Care about your own artwork!

Close-up Ear Collage for Cooper Union Home test

During my second semester of foundation at Pratt institute I had a very interesting drawing teacher named Douglas Wirls. One my last day of class, where we had our final review he told me something that will stick with me forever. Professor Wirls said to me:

“It is your responsibility as an artist to care about your own work. It is a responsibility you have to your work, that you MUST care about it and seek to improve it, because no one else is ever going to care about it as much as you. No one else is as personally engaged in it as you are, so if you give up, that is entirely on you. No one is going to stop you one way or another, it is all on you. It is YOUR responsibility.”

It made me think, and although it has only been less than a year since he said this to me I have often reminded myself and taken solace in it. Perhaps during the early years of learning, this reminder is most valuable.

It can be an incredibly frustrating path to improve your artistic skillset. Sometimes the pencil just does not put down the marks you image and at times you may look at your work and feel it is all hopeless and never improving, but if you want to get better the only way is practicing. There is no shortcut.

You owe it to your work to keep going and improve.

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Have you gotten any advice that made a big difference to you in your career? If so, please drop a comment. I’d love to hear it!

Kiri Østergaard Leonard
kiri@kirileonard.com

Award winning Illustrator, Artist and Creator Kiri Østergaard Leonard happily shares her experiences making a living as an artist and pursuing a creative life. She grew up in a tiny village in Denmark, left her country behind to pursue art in the bustle of New York City and now resides in the delightful weirdness of Austin, Texas surrounded by sunshine and felines.

2 Comments

  • scribblepuff

    20.08.2013 at 06:49 Reply

    Seeing the title of the post, I thought of something completely different. I’ve heard of art teachers saying not to care too much about your work – that you should be able to make sketches and throw them away. It’s usual with new artists to care too much about every line they draw. But if you’re too attatched to the way you drew something, it’s unlikely that you’ll listen to critique to change it. You are saying the oposite, but it seems to me that improvement is the goal of both. 🙂

    • Kiri

      20.08.2013 at 10:04 Reply

      Thank you for the comment, scribblepuff. You bring up an excellent point! I think the fine line is to care about the development/improvement of the work, but be willing to let practice be practice.

      Personally I throw out a lot of sketches, especially stuff from my days at art school. I find that it isn’t worth saving everything I do. Not just because a lot of it simply isn’t very good but also storage space also becomes a practical issue.

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