Do you ever feel discouraged when you scroll through feeds of amazing calligraphy work? Join the club!
It doesn’t matter how good you are, it seems like there’s always someone better. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard as an artist is to remember that even though you might be drooling over someone else’s work, someone else is probably drooling over yours.
You should never lose sight of your personal progress. And despite how hard it might be, you should never compare yourself to another artist. Your focus should be on being the best artist YOU can be.
I’ve been working hard at lettering calligraphy for several years now. Through many successes and setbacks, I’ve developed some habits that have helped me stay motivated and on track. I’m confident they can make a difference in your pursuits as well. Without further ado, here are some tried and true creative habits and you can start implementing them immediately.
1. Show Up Everyday
I hate to tell you this, but there are no shortcuts. I truly wish there were. No one has become amazing at anything by practicing here and there when it’s “convenient”. Let’s be real; there’s never enough time in the day and it will rarely be convenient.
If you’re serious about your work — and I mean really serious — you need to develop a routine habit. Even if that routine is 15-20 minutes a day, I promise it will make all of the difference in the world. Calligraphy, like exercise is a discipline. The more time and effort you devote, the more conditioned you’ll become.
When starting out, don’t go overboard. Start small — it’s all about baby steps. You might be anxious, but don’t put yourself at risk of burning out or becoming frustrated. The steps will naturally grow bigger over time.
2. Plan Your Work Ahead of Time
Make the time you’ve devoted to practicing count. The act of starting, particularly in the beginning, will be much easier if you’ve planned your work ahead of time. There’s nothing worse than sitting down to a blank page and trying to come up with something to write.
Whether you’re working abstract, or writing quotes or words, keep a list on hand. The majority of ideas that I have come about randomly during the day. For this reason, I keep a list on my phone. Once you get into the habit of recording your ideas, you can stop worrying about creative block. There’s always something to write!
3. Focus on Quantity
That’s right. Quantity over quality.
Do you know that Picasso is estimated to have produced over 50,000 works of art in his lifetime? Well, as it turns out, only about 100 of them are actually notably recognized. That means 0.2% of Picasso’s work was “masterpiece” quality.
I’m not telling you to rush and compromise the quality of your work. You should never rush your work. However, you need to suppress any perfectionistic tendency. Stop trying to make every work you create a masterpiece. Focus on experimentation and improving areas of weakness in your work. Pay attention to quantity and the quality will come naturally.
4. Never Get Comfortable
Have you ever heard the phrase “satisfaction is the death of desire”? Think about those words for a minute.
Putting yourself in unfamiliar territory by trying something new is the best way to progress. Staying in comfortable territory is only going to hinder your growth and lead to boredom.
Even if it’s too small for others to notice, challenge yourself to try something new every time you sit down to work on your calligraphy. This might be a subtle stroke technique or a different grid ratio. It doesn’t really matter. Just continue to try new things and explore. This will keep the creative juices flowing and the quality of your work growing.