Highs and lows

Going to a design college is really fun, but it can also be hard on your ego.

In high school you learn things you often know nothing or very little about for subjects you’re not particularly interested in. If you’re not very good at them, too bad. You just try hard enough to pass. But if you go to an art college (or music or whatever), you must already be proficient at it.

It’s likely you only showed your work to family and friends so far, and they will never be objective in their opinions simply because they know you (unless you’re really, really bad I guess). So you go in feeling pretty confident, until you see what other people have produced. You start to wonder if you’re really as good as you thought. And then industry professionals start pointing out what you’re doing wrong. If you’re not confident in your own artistic abilities, this can be difficult to deal with. A large part of your identity is tied up in your work, so it being critisized can feel as a personal attack. The result?

Self-doubt.

You wonder why you’re really doing all this. You look at your work and you hate it, you say to yourself “I’ll never be as good as person X or Y”. All creative people go through this phase at one time or another. If they didn’t they wouldn’t be good artists. You need that self-doubt to become a better artist (or musician etc). Because if you think you crap gold, you’ll never improve. You always need something to strive for. You need people to come in and point out what you could be doing better. That doesn’t mean you are flawed. You’ve just got room for improvement, and I think that’s a great prospect. Think of all the things you’ll learn along the way!

So if you’re feeling down about your work, the best thing you can do is give it a rest. Take a little break, go do something else, relax, unwind, forget about it for a few days. Thats often when the best ideas pop up. They can come out of nowhere, during the most trivial of tasks. Taking time off can get you to think of your work in a way you never had before, and come up with fresh new ideas that will get you excited all over again. These are often the times you will produce your greatest work. You may never be perfect, and nobody is, but if you never start, you’ll never get anywhere either.

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