Austen Kleon in his nifty little book called Steal Like an Artist suggests we start being what we want to be now, rather than wait until we think we’re ready. Well, duh! I think about those who have doodled forever, saying I’m going to draw something really good—some day. And they never do. They’re terrified of drawing, painting, creating and then someone laughing at them. Or worse saying their creation sucks. Or even worse than that, that it looks like so-and-so’s work. First off if someone laughs, they just don’t get it. So ignore them. If they say it sucks, ignore them. You didn’t write that story for THAT person. You didn’t make that quilt for THAT person. You certainly didn’t paint that picture for THAT person. Even if THAT person is the nearest and dearest person to you. They don’t get it, can’t see what you saw in the thing you made. BUT there IS someone out there—a hundred thousand someones—who DO get what you were doing. Sure, you might sort of done your painting like someone else’s. Or that quilt resembles someone else’s. What a compliment to that other person–that you tried to imitate them. Critics make you feel like a phony but hey, how else are you going to learn.
Let me give you three things to think about:
“It is better to take what does not belong to you than to let it lie around neglected.”—Mark Twain. (Now I tend to think the good man wasn’t telling you to go rob a bank, taking all that money rather than just let it lie there being neglected.)
“Start copying what you love. Copy copy copy copy. At the end of the copy you will find yourself.”—Yohji Yamamotoa
Steal so you can figure out what they were thinking when that piece was created. Sooner or later you’ll find that you create things that speak to you, in your own style. Ah and that’s worth it all. But don’t ‘wait for some day’. Start now!