But My Work isn't Good Enough

To add to the previous post, which was on artists block. Today I'm going to write about your art, and mine, not being good enough. 

Every artist of every medium has thought to themselves at one point or another that their work isn't good enough to do _____ or it isn't ready to go _____. Other times, because we are artists and feel that we deserve to be heard. There's no fighting the fact that we have to have a certain sense of self worth to want our work to be seen.

I heard someone say once, and have repeated it many times: "I usually think I am simultaneously the most incredible person in any given room and also the biggest piece of human garbage to ever walk the earth".  If you didn't giggle at that or say "ah", maybe this post isn't for you. 

In my work, I walk a very thin line, because my subject matter is almost completely autobiographical I have to think that my story is one worth telling, and one worth consuming. However what makes that work "good" for lack of a better term is it also explores my darkest and lightest moments, my insecurities, trauma, and the way I was raised. None of those things awaken a lot of confidence in myself. 

So how do you learn to balance the two? And how do we get past the "my work isn't good enough" stage? As usual there are no good or real answers to this, but this is what has worked for me 

  • It is probably not good enough yet.
  • It may never be good enough.
  • Your heart might not be in it. 
  • If those three things are true start over. 
  • If it's still not good start over again
  • If it's still not good start over again
  • If it's still not good start over again
  • Get people to talk about it 
  • Critique the shit out of it until it cannot be critiqued anymore. 
  • Then get someone new to critique it 
    • you don't have to always listen to a critique

Are you picking up a pattern yet? Through practice your art will get better, your concepts will evolve into something more tangible and complicated, you will feel better about it. Do you think a songwriter writes a song in one session and it's ready to be recorded and played for hundreds of people? Odds are no. Of course there are a few exceptions, there are people who can sit down do the thing and be done with it. But they are a minority, and usually those people are the people who have dedicated their lives to it, so they've been through all of the terrifying stages that we as young artists have to experience still. 

So what I'm saying is, your art is probably good enough, it's just buried under the stuff that we need to strip away to find what our true concept is. Hell I started a thesis about one thing with a lot of drama and ended up with some quiet photographs I didn't leave my house to make. They were about the same thing, but I had to chisel away the drama to get to what I really wanted to say. 

Make a lot of art, enough that it feels like too much art, and then throw stuff away because if you aren't willing to kill your art babies you're in the wrong business. Start over a lot. And then when you feel confident stay confident. Once it feels right it probably is going to be.