What Anime Loving Artists Need to Remember About "Art"
A personal anecdote on my artistic journey that I hope helps other aspiring, anime-loving artists, like me.
I know what it's like to look at your artwork mid-completion and realize it's nothing like the artists you look up to. Those artists you love also love anime like you and it seems like you'll never reach their level. I used to try to give myself the benefit of the doubt: "They're professionals, that's why they're so good." Then, you run into someone who just draws just as a hobby and has remarkable talent. Your heart sinks, you take up the title of otaku garbage, and you stay away from your drawing tablet or sketchbooks as much as possible because it's too painful to relive that feeling. Yeah, I've been there...but I want to remind you that art at it's rawest definition isn't supposed to discourage you. I need you to remember some things when it comes to creating fanart of your favorite characters or creating original characters.
All the art in this article is mine, by the way.
Art is first and foremost a form of self-expression.
I personally don't think it's possible to express yourself perfectly. I don't even think expression is supposed to be "perfect." Expression is all about venting or releasing what's stuck inside. When we're angry, yelling isn't enough; some of us hit, punch, or kick whatever. When we're excited, some of us can't help but scream and jump around. Art is another filter or translator for our emotions. We draw a character because we love them. We may try drawing them in a different style because we felt the possibilities of our favorite character in this kind of setting would be pretty cool. Inspiration isn't always spoken. For some of us, we need to dissect our passions with a weird color palette and chunky lineart. We have to try and see what it looks like. Expression, especially artistic expression, HAS to be released. We shouldn't be labeling it with any extra adjectives during the creation process. It just is.
Drawing is a learning process and everyone learns at their own pace.
Please stop comparing yourself to the artist overseas who has been drawing since they were children. Stop focusing on the artist who can do a near perfect copy of your favorite manga-ka's style. Quit believing your art isn't good enough to be online (this is coming from someone who deleted and reuploaded and deleted their artwork repeatedly). Lastly, don't you dare completely destroy or delete any past or half-drawn work. You need to understand that every time your pencil or tablet is moving, you're learning more about who you are as an artist. It's fine to reference other artists who inspire you or ask for advice, but please remember that you process information in your own way. When you draw it's for YOU. Just you! Stop thinking of other people!
The original creations you manifest are a mirror for you.
My sketch right here represented how I felt about being in a position of service for others, whether it be doing my job, doing a favor, or anything like that. It hit me that when we give our genuine, heart-felt efforts to others, it's impossible to get a full refund. I actually tried to paint over this digitally later on, but decided to save it for my usual cell shading style instead. Additionally, a pretty intense story came out this little sketch and I liked the theme of that story. While drawing this, I thought about how it always feels like you lose a part of yourself when you give to others and they don't fully accept it, but you do eventually learn to give carefully or give unconditionally. This sketch was my mirror. Similar to what I said about self-expression, your artwork is a mirror for you. No filters, no labels. It's just you.
Don't give up.
So what if you drew uneven eyes? So what if the neck is too long? So what if the arms aren't proportioned right? All of these things are fixable and they aren't worth giving up.
- If you give up on your art, you're silencing yourself.
- If you give up on your art, you're shaming yourself for not learning fast enough.
- If you give up on your art, you're missing out on the many chances to learn more about yourself.
Why. Would. You. Give. Up. On. What. You. Love?
If you love anime and you love drawing, just do it and keep doing it. It can grow into something remarkable one day and inspire others around you. Do not be silent, ashamed, or ignorant. Every uneven eye or extremely long neck is experience. Just experience.
Art is just experience.