Lessons from Revisiting Old Work

This is a sketch of Superwoman a.k.a.  Lilly Singh I made back in 2016.


This is the start of the final product that I started around the same time.

It has stayed like that up until a couple of weeks ago when I was tired of staring at its undone state. This is what I have so far. (Scroll through my instagram to see the finished product!)


It has taken me so long to complete this work because of some insecurities I had with my style and the content that I wanted to create. If I were to sum it up, I basically felt conflicted by the influence of people who advised me on what to make and how to make it. Additionally, I am recovering from my own kind of perfectionist syndrome where I manifest this grandiose vision of a thing in my head and neglect to make anything because I want it to be perfect.

By actually truly starting on this work, I have learned some things:

  1. Don’t play the victim.

    I wrote a post before about someone who assissted in my insecurities as an artist. This person really made me feel invalid and whenever I explained what this person did to me, people generally agreed that this person’s method of teaching me were harsh, but they said that it seemed like this person was testing me to see how much I could take and therefore how far I could go.

So basically, instead of telling me how tough the creative business is, a Mr. Miyagi was pulled me, but in my version of the story I was not told the purpose of wax on and wax off. So, I questioned myself and questioned my work. At one point, I told myself I wasn’t cut out for art and I should just do something else.

Well, that sucks and all, but I realized that I needed to ignore all of that and keep making art. Now, I’m not going to be a military fitness instructor and scream at you to pick up your butt and move on. It’s not that simple because people feel stuff and it’s amazing how much stuff can hurt us and have a lasting effect. However, you have to ask yourself a question.

Would you rather cower away from what you want because you are afraid that people won’t like you, won’t think you’re good enough, or that you won’t be perfect?


Will you do what you love and face not being liked by everyone and not being perftect because asking ‘what if’ for the rest of your life is not an option?

I’d choose the latter. Again, I know that people can be cruel. It’s the reason why I just started dancing again and the reason I’m just now finishing this drawing of Lilly Singh. We all have phantom pains to deal with, but the point is that I don’t want to waste anymore time worrying about that kind of stuff and I don’t want you to either. I may be the sweetest orange there is, but someone out there hates oranges and prefers apples. If I take another dance class, some people may laugh at me and others might dig my style. If I finish my artwork and share it on instagram, some people might tell me its crap, while others might comment a fire emoji. But the whole deal is I’m not doing it to seek everyone’s approval. I’m doing it because I love it and maybe I will find a tribe of people who dig it too.

2. Discipline is more important than motivation.

Motivation will only carry you so far. I was initially motivated to create this piece because I wanted demonstrate my appreciation for people who pursue their own unique vision of creativity and for those who walk in the clouds. That’s a lovely sentiment and all, but that doesn’t always carry you into actually wanting to get up to paint before you have to go to work/school. It doesn’t always pull you out of your rut and it certainly won’t make you stop movie marathoning.

But discipline. Discipline does not care about five more minutes of sleep. Discipline will haul you onto your feet, so that you can get in half an hour of painting before you have to do your homework or so that you can complete day 14 of your fitness challenge. All of us would love to make our desires audibly known and have them rain down upon us, but that’s not how life works. We don’t get genies. What we have is the ability to do something and make ourselves do it. Now, I’m not saying that you need to get up at 5 am tomorrow. I mean, if that is your goal, you should work up to that in thirty minute intervals. Anyway, we are in charge of what we do and do not do. I mean if we skip class all the time, the professor will eventually drop you from the class. That’s discipline. If I don’t paint, no one’s going to take away my paint, but the paint will certianly be left to collect dust and I will have the sinking feeling everytime I pass my unifinished work. My only choice is to cover it up to try to forget about it or to pick up the paint and do the thang.

Finishing Old Work

3. I need to give mysef permission to be imperfect.

Aside from external validation and lack of discipline, there is always the fear that whatever I’m doing or making won’t be perfect. It won’t live up to that ideal vision that I have built up in my head.

And guess what? That’s ok. Actually, it’s pretty great!

If everything were perfect, it’d be mighty boring. We may look at other artists, musicians, youtubers, or whoever and think “Wow, that person makes such perfect work. Why can’t I make a perfect thing like they did?” First of all, their work was born out of imperfection. I mean I love Bruno Mar’s song “When I was Your Man,” but he was explaining how the lyrics are about him almost losing someone he loved due to his own insecurities in the relationship. That’s far from perfect and yet we think it’s a great song anyway, probably because it sounds real, relatable, and human. I may be drawing and make an unintended mark. I could choose to scrap the whole thing or I could try modifying the work to see what can be done about it. I may make something that I really like that I would not have thought about doing if I had not made the mistake or it may be awful. Either way, loosening the leash of your expectations will make you more relaxed, see more possibilities, and allow for an easier comeback at your craft when things did not go the way you expected them too.

In Essence

You need to do work that you love even when it gets hard. I mean, you should take breaks to avoid burnout, but don’t sell yourself short and cut off your endeavour all together. Also, don’t worry about trying to please everyone or being perfect. Not everyone is going to like the apple that you are and you may have some little black dots, but that’s what makes you, YOU!

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