Perfectionism is the worst! It almost killed me and I don't recommend it to ANYONE. You see, I am naturally kind of an obsessive person. I tend to put way too much of myself into everything I do to the point that I have ignored my own health and well-being until after I have completed tasks to the absolute best of my abilities. And I mean WHATEVER task, not only art-related.
A couple of years ago, I didn't know how to say ¨no¨ and didn't stop working until I was completely spent, always striving for perfection. At one point I made myself extremely sick and ended up in the hospital for the first time in my life. This is one of the reasons why some time ago, I made a promise to myself to put my own priorities and health first, before anything or anyone else.
I think my little perfectionist demon was already alive somewhere inside of me, but studying Graphic Design also contributed to its growth. I remember the first semesters were extremely tough because professors took off points for nearly non-existent pencil/eraser marks, etc. So I learned that, to be a designer, I wasn't only expected to find super creative and highly effective visual solutions to problems, but also that they have to be presented in a professional and organized manner.
Presentation, presentation, presentation!
After graduating with a BA in Graphic Design, I worked in agencies and advertising firms for several years. I was surrounded by very talented people, many of which seemed to view minimalism and cleanliness as the way to go. I don't regret having studied Graphic Design at all and am extremely thankful for the amazing opportunities I was given to work at these companies. I learned A LOT both professionally as well as personally.
Then came a HUGE shift in my professional life in which I decided to take a position as Art Teacher in a school teaching around 250 students each semester. At the beginning, my mind kind of imploded. It is safe to say that neat freaks would not last in this kind of job. Trying to get 25 students at a time to advance their art projects in a period of 48 minutes (clean-up included), while also grading and managing behavior problems, is INSANE.
Managing an Art classroom with no assistant at all and everything that comes with being an Art Teacher is very, very difficult. Perfectionism, cleanliness and neatness was simply not a priority. There is constant chaos going on, no real breaks to look forward to, and it is up to you (and only you) to make things work. I learned to let go of a lot of things or I simply wouldn't be able to get through the day. All of this while being patient and always well-mannered. You are an example for your students after all.
Many things have happened throughout these five years on this beautiful art-teaching rollercoaster. For one, I watched my perfectionist demon die slowly (which was ultimately a good thing). I learned that life is more about the journey than the destination and that we should value progress over perfection, ALWAYS. I learned that fear of failure only hinders our professional progress and that life is too short to spend in a constant state of worry/anxiety.
This experience has helped me understand that I should acknowledge my fear and use this energy to move forward instead of letting it stop me. If we let fear stop us, we risk wasting our precious time on this Earth and not doing everything we are intended to do. I honestly can't think of a sadder thing.
In this time I have been teaching Art and exploring all sorts of traditional media (yay! mess!) I have also learned that I love Art and Illustration perhaps even more than I like Graphic Design. Throughout these years, I have drawn, painted and experimented with different types of media much more than I ever did before.
I have discovered my passion for traditional media and working with my hands. I have found beauty in imperfection and in being human. Finally, I have learned that we should embrace life as an opportunity to progress towards who we want to be and what we want to create, always remembering (and not being ashamed of) the work we put in to get there.
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