Am I a real surface designer or am I just playing at being an artist?
This is a question many of us may have contemplated, especially when we get discouraged and compare ourselves to other artists on social media. But it is possible to find the inspiration we need to create the art we want to see in the world without scrolling endlessly on Instagram. Because there is no need to fit ourselves into social media squares.
The first thing we must do as soon as we claim ourselves as a designer or illustrator is to BELIEVE deep down that we are indeed artists.
It’s true that my art taste may not match my skill level, but I must believe and trust myself that I can make great artwork. Maybe I’m not meant to fit in a specific category, but that doesn’t mean my art has no value. On the contrary, I have to keep creating the kind of art I want to see in the world.
In the past, I slowed my design processes because I was comparing everything I created with other artists on social media. But I came to understand that while I can like another artist’s work, I don’t have to feel bad because I don’t create the lovely things they do. Instead, I have to find the things I do well, and that comes from lots of experimentation and listening to my gut.
And in my 4-year journey as a surface pattern designer and illustrator, that means I’ve tried many different drawing techniques, such as:
Manually drawing, then vectorizing in Illustrator
In Illustrator with a tablet
In Procreate and vectorizing in Illustrator
In Procreate, but then creating the pattern in Photoshop
Creating my patterns in Procreate
In Adobe Fresco then creating the pattern in Illustrator
With watercolors and markers to create the pattern in Photoshop
From all that experimentation, I came to realize that I’m the only one that can choose what the right processes are for me. I’m in charge of the themes I use, the colors I choose, the number of designs I want to have in a collection, and the niches I want to design for. Because yes, we can listen to advice from agents, educators, and mentors but at the end of the day, you get to make your own decisions.
For me, I finally understood that I decide how I want to show my art to the world. So I encourage you to embrace your own art journey.
Start looking deep inside yourself instead of looking at others for what your portfolio needs. Because there are a lot of great artists making it in art but that doesn’t mean you are not a good artist.
Figure out which design program/s works best for you. Know that you can follow trends or advice, but what’s most important is to follow your heart and your gut.
You can learn all the skills in the world but until you start designing with your soul, you won’t find the answer you’re looking for. In my case, I’ve dealt with rejection of my art for the past 4 years, but I came to realize that rejection comes from within.
The rejection I felt from the outside was a reflection of what I was feeling on the inside. But the minute I embraced the fact that my style is a reflection of my soul and my own personality, I felt at peace with my own portfolio knowing my designs will eventually bring the right people in my way.
Related Article: How to Know When You’re Ready to Start Your Surface Design Career
So do your best to cancel that voice in your head screaming your art is not good enough — I know it’s tough — and start looking deep inside yourself. Embrace your own process and the fact that it doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to be real.
And if you feel your art skills are not at the same level as your taste is, then be brave and start experimenting with new techniques or try something different to inspire you. Learn how to use different software or art mediums and enjoy every minute of the process, understanding that the learning process is beautiful but not perfect.
And most of all remember you are not in competition with other artists; your only competition is YOU. Because at the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide how to develop your art business. For now, I’ll leave you with this:
“The world has a special place for all the amazing art you create and the first one that needs to believe that is you.”
Written by Lau Hernandez
I live in the middle of the Caribbean where the sun is bright, the food is savory and the music is joyful. My designs are bright and bold, always a reflection of my happy soul. I like to think we can design the future we want to live in and paint a better world filled with bright colors.
Brilliant mindset to have, Lau!
I’m going to print this out and read it every morning! Thank you so much!