22 January 2014

More & Better

Sleeping cats and what-now from my instagram

Although inspiration doesn't come quickly, I've been going through my sketches and I have a few ideas. But nothing that feels like "Yes! This is perfect and must be drawn now!". And that's where the trouble starts I guess, me looking for something perfect. Also I think that I'm embarrassed that I'm tired after work, that I might not be up to creating more. It's a little arrogant in a way, because I know that most people are tired after work and can't be supercreative, yet I insist on wanting to be a little better and not feel like that. I read that perfectionist have a fear of becoming like everyone else. Although this is true, I wonder if not everyone, even the ones who aren't perfectionists, have a fear of becoming like everyone else? What do you think?
Sure you want to fit in the group and be accepted - but we also want to be a little extra special. Not special in the way that "oh darling, everyone's special". Not everyone-special, but special-special.
Hmm... the thirst of creativity - wanting to be great.
I would rather not confess this, because I really want to urge all my readers not to strive for perfectionism - to enjoy a cosy open fire more than fame. But I do have a need for creating things that I feel are better and grander than what I've done before. And sometimes this more-and-better feeling tastes really sour. I constantly tell me friends that I dislike when people respond "I can't wait until I see more" when I show them new work. Although this is a kind comment it makes the current work we're looking at unintresting. We're not focusing on whats created but of what could be created. During my school years I was told that I should always strive for more, never settle for what was achieved. Does any of you have this statement ringing in your head?

I would love to have a discussion about this, because I know many of you are creative and have the same thoughts :)


  1. Uli, I am preparing portfolios for my universities just now. Few more days and they will be off on their journey. It's given me some strive due to time constrains as well as understanding to what extent I should freely interpret the criteria, however I do not make much of a big deal out of it after I have spoken with my art teacher. You know why? Because she made a very interesting point. Much rather than trying to think of what they are looking for and satisfying the 'model', be yourself. And I believe, it is very important. Although it may seem slightly off the topic, I would say that you should get to making once you feel like it and be you!;) Cause that's when the best things are born or just don't take it seriously and pressure yourself. Try to play with the media, experiment, without hoping for a 'grande finale" to come! It is so refreshing! :) xxx

    1. Fist of all, good luck with your uni applications :)
      Sometimes I actually feel that first when I accept that I'll have to wait for my mind to be ready to create again - that's when I want to. But as long as I want to force myself to create it just feels so blaha.

  2. Thanks for being so candid and honest in your post, it's really valuable to hear about your perspective and experience. I know I certainly find myself in a similar place from time to time.

    Whenever I de-emphasize the creative process and focus instead on the end result, the experience begins to feel like a chore, sucking all the joy out of it.

    What I have learned is to practice being mindful of my unconscious motivations. If the voice says, "Do this, it will be fun!" I know I am on the right track. If the voice says, "Do this and you will be worthy," that's a red flag. I know that the second voice is really just my insecurity talking - The part of me that feels like just BEING ME is not adequate, and believes in the need to achieve something or prove myself in order to become "enough."

    By needing to be more or do better than what I am now and how I've done so far, I'm just operating under the delusion that, "I'll be good enough when ____."

    At first this seems harmless enough - after all, it motivates me to go farther, work harder, do great things!

    But there is no limit to how high we can continue to raise the bar for ourselves. And if it is always above us, where we are at right now will never be good enough.

    So I try to focus my energy on the creative process itself, and put the outcome out of my mind.

    I stop worrying if it is technically good, or if the subject matter is even relevant. I don't bother asking myself what possible effect it may have on others. I ask myself simply:

    Is it honest? Is it authentic? Is it me?

    And you know what? The stuff that meets those three criteria is always stronger, more raw, more real - and by far my favorite.

    And that goes for everything in life, not just art :-)

    Anyhow, the flow of creativity always come and goes! I'm sure another wave will be heading your way soon. Good luck, Uli!

    1. Hi Lia, thanks for replying so honestly.
      I totally agree on the "I'll be good enough when ____."
      I know however that everyone in my family feels like this - we seldom celebrate accomplishment - we only keep going. It's useless really, because it means that it doesn't matter what you do - you'll never feel the joy of accomplishment.
      I hope there's a way to change this path of mind :)
      Wish you a happy week!

    2. I think it is healthy to always want to do better, but it is more important to reward yourself every time you achieve a goal weather it is big or small. The problem is that it is easy to lump your happiness with your level of success, which allows you to put off happiness until you achieve the next big thing which is always changing therefor we make it nearly impossible to reach happiness.

      What seems to be more important to me is breaking down my goals into small steps and rewarding myself every time I achieve one, and the rewards are usually a mental acknowledgement of what I have done. And like Lia said, focusing on enjoying the process instead of working for a final product is a very good way to try and get into that more positive mind frame.

      I constantly have to remind myself to stop for a moment and be happy about what I already have and to enjoy the little things. I wish it was so much easier to break away from that "I'll be good enough when ____." mentality.

      Anyway, hope you both the best!
      Tatyana 'Avo'

  3. Hey Uli,

    I definitely have to agree that I have a little fear of being like everyone else. I continuously search for my own unique style which I don't think I have settled on yet! I find it difficult to be happy with my current work. I always think I could do better, always!

    Being tired is ok in January, I feel the same and I think it's probably a natural reaction to the New Year which I'm sure shall soon bring you a new lease of creativity. Until then, try not to focus on it too much. You are so talented, I love everything you create. I wish I could photograph things the way that you do!

    Nikki x

    1. Thank you Nikki, I'm glad that I'm not the only one feeling like this.
      It's february soon though! We have snow now so it's much lighter - it actually helps the tiredness :)

  4. I was leaving a comment and after a few lines I remembered this list I found online:
    9 Things happy successful people decided to ignore.
    1-Other people's judgement
    2-Old troubles from the past
    3-Each day's little frustration
    4-The necessary pain of work and growth
    5-Insignificant busywork
    6-Impatient thoughts
    7-The things that can't be controlled
    8-Unfounded fears
    9-The mind's endless stream of doubts.
    I can perfectly relate to how feel about wanting to create something special but you should let your instincts drive you, I don't know you and I come back on this page because your words and images inspire me. We all have a monster sitting on our shoulders telling us that we are not good enough but what I am trying to do with mine is befriend him and hold his hairy paws instead of fighting all the time. :)

    1. Hi Chiara, it seems you have to be some super-human to never be bothered by anything on that list. I think it's healthy not to dwell to much on these things, but I don't think it's healthy to ignore them completely. But I understand your point :)

  5. Let your art reflect more how you feel right now, stuck and frustrated not just how you want life to be .I think that can give you more satisfaction?

  6. Sometimes it's about just doing it as well. Like you don't want to do something that does't seem perfect, but if you do something that's not quite perfect it will possibly get you closer to the perfect one. I did some time ago a challenge I set myself which was purely about quantity - the 365 trees (one every day for a year sort of thing). And sometimes when you don't do things at all it is harder to do ones you are happy with. So the idea of this was to just keep pushing through blocks etc. and keep going. Outcome was that I created some I was happy with, a few that were pretty good and a whole lot of shit ones. But if I didn't do the shit ones I wouldn't have done the good ones either.

    I also know everything about being tired after work and no wanting to do things. But sometimes it might be good to warm yourself into it gradually, like spend 5 minutes first and then each day a little more. Apparently if you do something for 21 days (or something like that) it becomes a habit.

  7. Wise words Zyzanna, I agree with you there - I often tell my students that too; to just keep doing stuff. Don't get upset when it turns out crap - you're learning in the process.
    A 365 day kind of thing might not be a bad idea :)