No Success Like Failure

Probably teaches you a little more, too.

The acquisition of knowledge is (arguably) the most important part of learning any new skill or set of skills. There are many different ways to acquire that knowledge, for example, but not limited to: learning from others, learning from experience, learning from courses/activities, or learning from your own successes/failures. The last one is something that I feel many novice learners fail to grasp as quickly as they should. While some would also argue that learning from experience and from your own successes/failures are one and the same.

However, learning from experience is more about accruing knowledge over time rather than from a particular result.

As you continue to learn, develop your skills, and improve you’re going to be accruing a lot of knowledge that will almost passively help you understand more. While learning from your successes/failures is looking at a particular result critically. Observing what worked as well as you’d have liked, what didn’t, what held you back, and what you can learn from this result to differ the next one. One of the more common questions I see novice artists asking is how to overcome their initial failures. Quite simply? Learn from them. Understand what you didn’t like and find a way to approach that differently the next time out.

This is, ironically, a skill that most people already have. But they’ve yet to realise that while they can immediately look at something and be displeased with it- they can also identify those very reasons and improve on them. You’ve just got to take that step from “I don’t like this…” to “I don’t like this because…” to capitalise on it.

There’s no shame in not getting the result you want every time, either. You know yourself better than anyone else will and so you’ll be able to identify your potential more accurately. One of the reasons you’ll dislike some of what you do is not because it’s bad- it’s because you know you can do better. You’re comparing that result to what you know your actual potential is. While others, who may not see that potential, will like it and support you because they’re enjoying it (and what you do in general).

Which is why you should never be overly critical of yourself and your abilities.

You understand that you can do better, you can identify your potential, and you’re not happy about that- but that doesn’t mean the work isn’t good. It just means that (for the time being) it’s not hitting your expectations. Which begins the cycle anew. Learn, accrue knowledge, identify what doesn’t work, improve on it, and continue to do so until you are happy with it. While it sounds overly simple- that’s all there is to it. Really. It’s also funny to look back, several months, if not years, later and realise how far you’ve progressed. You won’t actively see that, either. It will just happen as you continue to push yourself further and learn more.

Which is why I like to have a collection of work on my personal site that covers older to newer work. It really helps to see that transition from the older pieces you weren’t happy with to the newer pieces that you are happy with. Most importantly? Have fun. Don’t stress to the point where what you’re doing isn’t fun or enjoyable any more.

Have a nice weekend, all!


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