Sorry for the huge delay! I actually intended to post this last week on Sunday but a former teacher of mine invited me to meet up with Alex St John (Creator of DirectX) who happened to live nearby.
You'd think from the lack of posts that something terrible happened, but it's actually quite the opposite. No, I didn't win the lottery, but I did have a profound moment of insight over the past weekend, and I just wanted to make sure I wrote my feelings on it properly.
So first, a summary of the event itself, Overload 2014. We came into this much better prepared than last year, with more prints, more freebies, stands and even a tablecloth! It doesn't sound like much, but compard to our table last year, it was an improvement.
You can read my post about Overload 2013 here:
Another big difference from last year was how much more popular our table was this year. I'm not sure if it was because of location, or presentation, or something else, but we did far better than we expected to. Lots of really nice people came to buy and talk, the most memorable being someone who bought 9 posters! He even brought his friends to buy more. It really was a huge confidence boost, and I'm really grateful for it.
I only bought one thing this time, guess whose it was? Huehue.
Maybe you should come down and visit yourself next year, eh nano? Leaving poor halcyon to man the table by himself.
Okay, so to my main point. I didn't actually mention this to anyone but a close friend, but leading up to the event, I was really unhappy with every picture I'd drawn. I actually hated a few of them, despite how much time I'd put into making them. None of them felt "fun" or enjoyable for me to draw, it wasn't an issue with how difficult they were, I just didn't enjoy drawing them. At the time, I attributed this to the fact that most of them were older drawings which I was only now adding the finishing touches to, but looking back now I finally understand what it was.
Most of the prints were drawings I made based on what I thought other people would think looked good. Now before you say it, I understand full well that every artist wants other people to appreciate their artwork, sharing what you love to do with people who actually appreciate it is a great feeling indeed. But that's the key point. You have to love it yourself, first.
I'm not a hugely confident artist, as anyone who has ever joined me in a stream has probably realized, I make far too many mistakes and spend a lot of time not knowing what I'm even doing.
During the weeks leading up to Overload, my lack of confidence got to the point where I was continually sending my illustrations to a friend to get him to check them and give feedback. I secondguessed everything I done, and allowed my own sense of taste be overridden to the point where I didn't trust my own decisions. This lead towards me creating pictures that followed someone else's critiques and taste, that I myself did not like at all.
Honestly, by the end of it all I was really mentally drained out. I didn't know what I was doing wrong, it was only 2 days from the event and I didn't have a single drawing I liked, despite working so hard on them. I couldn't understand why, and my frustration with the entire ordeal manifested itself in the only way I know how to deal with drawing.
I pulled an all-nighter. I said "fuck it", I'll just draw what I love to draw. It won't sell well, it might not look as pretty as the other prints, it might be more rough, but I'll enjoy doing it, and that's all I really cared about at that point. I just wanted to have some fun drawing something I loved to draw. And that was the Nozomi drawing. And I loved it.
And you know what happened? At Overload, the print which sold the most was the Nozomi drawing. It gave me this strange sense of validation, like "Hey, these people actually like the one I liked drawing. Maybe I'm not totally inept." It was so surprising. I don't know what it was, but it almost seemed like you could tell which illustration I enjoyed drawing more, and the people reacted to that.
That's a long story, but here's the point I'm getting to. Overload 2014 was huge for me not because of how much we sold, but rather, what got sold. I came into the event uncertain, unconfident and unsure of my own abilities, judgement and taste. During the course of the event I slowly began to realize that I just needed to have a little more belief in myself, to do what I loved and hopefully people would gravitate towards that.
I also was able to try out their Cintiq they had open for people to draw on at the event. It was a really fun experience, and after awhile people started crowing up behind me to watch me draw. It was like I was livestreaming, in real life.
I didn't actually see who was behind/around me since I was so focused on the drawing, but luckily someone else took a few photos!
So, that leaves last Sunday. Why didn't I make a post on the event back then, when I had the time? Well, as I mentioned earlier, I was fortunate enough to meet Alex St John and have a talk with him about Game Development, given his large amount of experience in the industry.
If Overload was the kickstart to getting my mind in the right place, Alex St John was the finishing blow. Now, I'll spare you the personal story and just say this, it's very hard to stay confident when you've made so many mistakes. However, the correct response to failure is not to lose confidence, as that path really only leads to more failure. It's difficult to stay confident in the face of failure, but it's not wrong.
I think, for the longest time I've had difficulty with keeping confidence, as often times I feel the line between confidence and arrogance is paper thin. I've seen a lot of great artists blinded by their ego, and I never wanted to become that type of person. I don't want to be immune to criticism, or above mistakes. That's how an artist stagnates. At the same time, I needed to have more belief in my own judgement. A lot of great artists do things in a way which doesn't make sense, but still looks good or works.
This goes into a much larger topic on artistic skill and style, which I've had multiple discussions to a friend about. I won't go into it today, because this post is long-winded enough as is, but maybe someday I'd like to share my thoughts on the topic, because I feel it's a very important topic to discuss.
So, what was the point of all this, you ask? Well, here's what I learned. Confidence is king. You have got to believe in what you're doing, even if other people do not. It's the only way you'll grow, and find your own path. Not everyone is going to like that, but at the end of the day, if you're on the path you want to be on, people will gravitate towards it. Be prepated to make mistakes, acknowledge them and move on. Don't actively discourage yourself.
Lastly, I would like to extend a sincere thank you to those of you who actually took the time to leave words of encouragement leading up to the event. I know I constantly joke about how nobody checks this blog, but even if only 1 person reads this and took the time to give me a little push forward, it means a lot to me. I was in a pretty severe slump mentally, despite what it might have looked like, and your words of encouragement helped me every bit as much as what happened last weekend. I'm really glad to have people as cool as you all actually follow me.
Sorry for the long post. I know a lot of this might be obvious to some of you, but I also think there's a very large difference between knowing something to be true, and actually experiencing it yourself. For me, the past weekend was both validating to me, and encouraging. I will try to be a more confident person, in both art and life. Thanks for reading.