Making art can be a struggle—and for many artists, the idea of “quitting” always lurks in the background.
Now, when you think of quitting your art, you probably think of no longer doing art at all. That’s the big one, but there other ways to let the “quitting bug” infect your work and life as an artist. Here are four.
• When you quit learning
• Anytime you quit on a piece too soon
• When you quit marketing your art
• Or if you just plain quit believing in yourself
I’m sure you can add others. That’s not the question. The question is how to do you quit quitting?
Tip #1: Improve your existing skills
Nature abhors a vacuum. Something is either growing or dying; increasing or decreasing. Anything that becomes static soon begins shrinking, and that includes artistic skill. In other words, the moment you stop improving your craft, you begin losing it.
Granted, it may take months or years for the decline to become noticeable, but it will happen!
The cure? Continue learning about your chosen medium, subject, or style. Practice your method until you can do it in your sleep. Learn how to draw your favorite subject better than anyone else. Learn your tools inside out. Whatever is involved in the creation of your art, learn everything you can about it and keep improving!
Tip #2: Learn something new
Another way to keep quitting at bay is to learn new things. If you love oil painting, learn a different method of oil painting. Or try a different subject. Or learn a new medium altogether.
NOTE: One of the best ways to expand your skills in your chosen medium is to learn a totally new medium, then discover ways those methods and techniques can be incorporated back into your favorite medium.
Maybe it’s time to think way outside the box. If you usually do flat work, try a little sculpting. It doesn’t have to be serious—think Play-Doh!
Photography is also a good way to stimulate creativity in other mediums. I know from personal experience that viewing potential subjects through the lens leads to better drawing and painting. Give it a try and see what you think.
If you’re a serious artist, you might want to try something less serious like an adult coloring book or a paint-by-number. I’m not kidding! Nothing brings out the kid (and the fun of art) in an artist like a coloring book or paint-by-number.
Tip #3: Finish a project when it’s finished
Sometimes quitting looks a lot like finishing, and a few mediums are more vulnerable to this problem than others. Colored pencils, for example. Artists new to colored pencils often quit on projects when the project is half done. Either the color is unfinished, or the values are wanting, or the drawing simply isn’t polished enough. But it looks good, so the artist thinks it’s finished.
It’s easy to quit in mediums that are naturally slow, and not realize that’s what we’re doing. If you work in naturally slow mediums, make sure your projects really are finished before you quit and move on to the next.
Not sure how to do that? See Tip Number 1.
Tip #4: Be persistent in your marketing
Artwork doesn’t sell itself. Not the best art, not the worst art. No art sells itself. If you don’t market your art, no one will see it. And if no one sees it, who will buy it?
But marketing is difficult.
We may start with a flaming passion to market every piece we create, but when results are slow in coming, it’s all too easy to quit. After all, time spent marketing is time taken away from creating, right? Artists are creative, so why bother with marketing?
The problem is that if you’re not marketing, you’re not selling and your art becomes a hobby. If that’s what you want, then OK! But if it’s not, then giving up on marketing is almost always equal to giving up on your career as an artist.
Tip #5: Stop giving up on you
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve given up on myself and my art. Why?
• My art’s just not good enough
• No one wants the type of art I make
• No one wants the subjects I like to draw and paint
• No one wants art
• It’s too difficult to earn a living this way. I should gone into _____
Whew! That’s a tough list to read. Don’t tell me you haven’t had days where you think at least one of those things, because I know you have! Everybody wrestles with this because we’re all human and our circumstances are always tough to see past.
The best way to combat this form of giving up is to think back to why you do art in the first place.
I once participated in a conversation with a talented artist who was very down on herself. When I visited her website, I read a page in which she told visitors why she painted.
So I recommended to her that she read that page again. She did, and just from reading her own words, her enthusiasm was rekindled.
If you’ve written such a page for yourself, review it every time you think about quitting. I guarantee it will help. If you haven’t written a page like that, why on earth not? It may be the single best vaccination you can get against the “quitting bug.”
Lastly, the best way I can think of to quit quitting is to stay in contact with other creative people. They don’t have to be artists, either. My husband is a creative person, but his creativity runs more toward music and building things. We both fall victim to quitting occasionally, so we do whatever we can to help the other avoid that.
Find a fellow artist or other creative and encourage one another. It’s time to quit quitting and get back to your art!
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