March 20, 2022

Why "bad art" is important to an artist

I come to you tonight about 16 days after a hand surgery. It was my non-dominant hand, but it still caused me a fair amount of pain and havoc for the last year. I'm happy to be on the road to recovery, but I'm taking a look at my art folder and realizing that it needs a little love.

When I first started in digital art, I thought everyone's art looked good. I often still do. Even as I work to build my own skills, it's hard for me to see how to improve when I see so many darn good artists out there! But bad art is important, and I think we artists tend to shy away from sharing *everything* - if you know what I mean.

So, in that spirit, I wanted to share two still life pieces that I did a while back, and share why I chose to do them, what I learned, and how I've carried forward.

1. All "Bad Art" is PRACTICE - and practice makes perfect.

Have you ever stopped to consider what it would look like if you drew the same thing over and over, every day, for a year? How might you improve? What might change about the piece?

No one wants to sit there and draw the same cartoon bear every day for a year, but I think most folks realize that if you draw something 10 times, it's going to be a lot better than the first time you put pencil to paper.

That's why I like my bad art. Heck, sometimes I even keep it around. It reminds me of my progress. And if I haven't progressed, chances are, I've been leveling up other skills, instead.

These pears are almost painful to look at, but they're my pears, damnit. I can't remember what specific restrictions I was working with here, but I believe that I was trying to use the same splotchy brush all the way through, and really work on shading and value.

Would this sell? No. Was it practice? Yes.

2. Bad art shows others how to do the thing.

Part of being a teacher - of existing in an online space - is showing up where others won't. Anyone can speed up their videos to minimize mistakes. And of course the speed painting videos are going to be good. Creators wouldn't upload them if they weren't "amazing" - they wouldn't get any views!

But bad art, mistakes, and drafts all show other people how your process works. As artists, we need to learn from each other. And if that means I have to show you how wiggly my lines are, I'm doing it.

Seriously, that cone is wigglier than a snake. You can see my "rules" were different in this one. I used black outlines, still worked in gray, but I believe I was using a light pastel brush this time. I didn't really add much of a coloring to the background, either.

3. Bad art is fun.

Let's face it: we tend to over-monetize everything. If I can't sell it on a sticker, what's the point of drawing it at all? My bad art is a little rebellion against capitalism. With bad art, I'm not worried about whether or not it'll sell. So I can just focus on making it and having fun while I do. You know - the reason I started making art in the first place?

I hope you've enjoyed this little sneak peek into my process. Let me know what you think, and I'll be back soon with more exciting art.

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