If you could tell your younger self anything at all, what would it be? What advice would you give them? How would you help them? Would your younger self even listen to you? I know mine wouldn’t. Ha ha ha.
This is the last article I’m going to be writing in this “Learning Series” on this here blog. Just telling yas. I’d like to get back to my regular life now, but I thank you for reading all the stuff I’ve been writing about.
I thought, in this last post, it would be an interesting exercise (for me) to address my younger self as an artist to see what sort of things I might want to say to me. What would I tell myself as my younger self? What would I warn them about or tell them to be aware of other than not taking candy from strangers? How could I best nurture them as they begin their life as an artist?
I would, of course, tell them they needed to believe in themselves. That’s first and foremost. And to keep going in the face of rejection. I’d warn them that there’s going to be way, way more rejection and disappointment than they think. They need to endure it and keep trying despite all of that. “Chin up” and all that. And lots of warning signs: “REJECTION” in bright red, neon lights.
I’d definitely tell them not to totally rely on money from their art, at first. At the same time, to keep trying to make money from their art. It’s a little reality check/double-edged sword kind of thing.
I’d have to kick them a little and say, “Recognize your strengths, but look at your weaknesses too!” And this would mostly apply to my drawing skills. I could always be better at this. I acted a bit like a rebellious teenager about that and kept thinking I could just draw cartoons forever. I practiced realism very little (only because I’ve never been interested).
I’d also have to warn them about being a kind of creep magnet. I don’t know why this is. Maybe it’s all artists, or maybe it was just me, but I have attracted more creeps than I can count. Maybe I knew deep in my gut from the start that these people were off, but I kept giving them the benefit of the doubt and continued to be nice to them until they stomped all over me. So I’d tell them to “look carefully for creeps that want to glom onto you! They’re everywhere.”
I’d sternly say, “Don’t feel bad saying ‘No.’ You don’t owe anyone anything for nothing.” I would also tell them not to be ashamed to be their authentic self and to just be themselves without apology. And to never apologize for the art they make.
I’d warn them of all the bad art that will be coming their way made by them! They are going to have to make a lot of it. Sometimes, you have to make a lot of that before you make anything good. But that’s better than making no art. You have to make something. You must try and put in your best efforts, even if they suck balls.
“Slow down!” I’d say. God, I wish I had heard myself say that to myself and listened. I created everything like I was going to die that very evening. It was all so goddamn urgent. I didn’t slow down until I was in my 40s. It made all the difference, and I enjoyed the process more.
“Don’t be where you don’t want to be when you don’t want to be there.” I’d have to tell myself that for all the times I let fair-weathered friends drag me away from my work when I really didn’t want to go with them. Not that I did that a ton, but when I did it, it took me some days to recover from it. It was a waste, and, obviously, a regret.
Lastly, I’d tell them to stop worrying. I worried a lot. Needlessly. I probably had a lot to worry about, but worrying about it never changes the outcome of anything. Duh.
What about you? What would you tell your younger self if you could? I’d love to know. If you don’t want to disclose it all as I did (I did bear my soul to you), maybe write it down in private and show it to your dog. It could be therapeutic.
So, this concludes all my windbaging noise and art advice. Ha ha. Hopefully, it was helpful, and you’re walking away with a sense of resonance with me, at least. That’s something. Please know that I was only trying to be helpful (because I want you to succeed) and wasn’t trying to be preachy. If I came off that way, well then, oops! and oh well. Too late. 😉
Take care and good luck!
I would tell myself, “You may not believe it now, but you will meet and fall in love with a great artist and the two of you will be together forever. So don’t sweat anything that happens before that.”
Well, that is the nicest, most coolest, and sweetest thing I’ve ever heard. Wow. I sure love you.
Thanks Ayin!! Great Series. Very helpful. Loved it.
Thanks Kevin. I’m so glad it was helpful. 🙂