Relinquish your fear, establish self discipline and control your ego. This is the simplest advice I can give to any person aspiring to reach personal goals.
I’m writing this not only for the students and aspiring artists that follow my work but also in hopes of solidifying some personal ideologies thus, hopefully, keeping myself in check. I am not always adept at taking my own advice. I will do my best to keep this straightforward and to the point.
It is dangerous to define yourself solely as your ultimate goal. If you want to be an artist than you must be much more than just that. If you define yourself solely as your ultimate goal, say an illustrator, then you are laying a thin and weak foundation that will not withstand the slightest amount of failure. Since there is no progression without failure the foundation of one’s true self must be complex enough to withstand such force. Welcome failure and do not fear it – just prepare for it.
Be skilled at more than just one thing. Do not be just be an artist or say to yourself “But it’s all I’m good at,” or “It’s all I know,” this will not garner sympathy. Sympathy will do nothing for you so do not go searching for it. You must be a whole person, well-rounded with experiences. You must be complex. When creating anything you must have a wealth of experiences and original ideas to pull from. The personal ideologies that you hold are the very building blocks of which you use to create your work so if you feel you have none then ask yourself this: How can I expect to create anything meaningful if I have no experiences, no opinions or original ideas? Your life is what you have to work with so add to it as much as possible. You need fuel for the fire.
Do not become a prisoner of your ego and allow yourself to believe that you are the best or worst at anything. Your ego tries to protect you from what will hurt you and so it may lie to you. It will cause you to become disillusioned. When it comes to meeting a challenge, if left unchecked, your ego will become your worst enemy. Your ego will take your mind to distracting places, “Who is watching?” “What will they think?” “I’m no good at this,” etc. But chances are that when you decided to become an artist for a living you said to yourself, “Who cares what they think! I got this!” So when it comes to meeting a challenge and taking risks why would you suddenly decide to care? Control your ego and take chances. You will grow because of it.
Get to know yourself, be honest and unafraid. Experience yourself for who you truly are. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and exposed. A seed will not grow under a stone. Do not shelter yourself. Do not hate or pity yourself when you fail. You have a responsibility to yourself to be happy. You have no one else to blame for your attitude and well-being so do not romanticize the struggles of being an artist. Stand by the decision you made to be what you are or get up and change. No one will blame you for changing your mind nor sympathize you for staying unhappy.
This industry rewards those who are original and pays no attention to those who are not so comparing yourself to other artists is completely pointless. It is so easy to spend all your time on the internet gawking over what others are doing but it will get you nowhere. Again, I am not always adept at taking my own advice and I am guilty of this as well. But this is not a race. There is no competition. We all have great things ahead of us so just stay focused, get up early, gather what you can from life, explore, experiment and evolve. Inspiration does not come from envy – it comes from experience.
This could not be worded any better.