As with everything you need to find a balance in your work. If you spend too little time on a piece it looks half-baked, but how long is long enough? When do you move into TOO much time spent?
To start, it’s important to point out that this matters for those who are looking to make a career out of their work. For artists who don’t care about that, you guys can take all the time you like. You have a bit less pressure on you when it comes to time constraints.
Art and music are quite similar in this issue. I have a friend who is one of the most talented musicians/singer/songwriters I’ve ever had the honor to work with. I really thought he would go far with his work. Why hasn’t anyone heard of him? He will take YEARS to produce and perfect a single song. The reality is, there is no single song today that you can produce that is worth years of work. The same thing with your paintings or drawings. You have been forgotten by followers by the time you produce something. In his case, he has spent multiple years on this song, done tons of self-marketing/promos, asked people to review it for him, spent tons of time mastering, then remastering then mastering it some more (if he still works today as he did 10 years ago). All for what? I’m not saying he shouldn’t be proud of a great song, but it’s ONE SONG! Not even a full album.
This artist will go through phases where he uploads to youtube occasionally, but overall both in music and online presence, he’s very inconsistent. You can’t grow that way. This has been typical throughout his career. It doesn’t matter how much skill you have if you’re not working your butt off using it.
Let’s compare that situation to another artist who several years ago decided to put out a new song EVERY WEEK. The music Unlike Pluto was producing when he started this was ok, but nothing jaw-dropping. After uploading and making weekly videos on youtube for several years he benefited from both a following and a HUGE improvement to his music. His skills shot through the roof! I’m personally obsessed with his music. If he had a single song, that would not have happened. Even if that song was amazing, it would just be ONE song. He would be irrelevant to potential fans.
Our paintings and drawings are the same. We have to balance how much work we complete while still maintaining quality and improvement. If you spend years on one painting, when it’s done you will get some attention for it if it’s phenomenal, but that attention is gone within a week. Now what? Are you going to expect to pay your bills while working for years on another piece? Of course not!
Sometimes you just need to get things done. If you have a HUGE project that will take months or years to finish, you better be working on smaller, quicker projects in the meantime to keep yourself relevant (and earn bill money).
We all want to avoid rushing work, but you have to be productive in moving forward at the same time. You need to learn how to finish something without spending weeks or months on details that aren’t going to actually make a difference in the final piece. This is one of my friend’s problems. Nothing is good enough. He will master a song for SO long changing and adjusting things NO ONE but else will notice. It’s time to move on and start the next project. Overly obsessing over one thing is no better than my next example.
I saw a post recently on Reddit from a girl who has been doing these plus-sized pinup girl drawings, not my thing but I could see this being quite popular with many if done well. She is frustrated because after a year of posting once a week they haven’t really “taken off” (built a following). I was curious what the problem was so I went and looked up her work. She was doing 15 minutes of work and expecting that 60 hour payoff. Here was an example of being consistent but half-baking the work. What she was doing shouldn’t have taken her more than 20 minutes of work. The sketches were messy (not in a creative way, just not shaded well, scribble marks, erased lines visible everywhere. And she kept doing this for a YEAR before realizing it wasn’t working. Your ideas are potential, but they’re not the actual work. She was sketching ideas. Had she taken the time to paint or color (marker or something like that) the pieces, to draw a real background not just scribble grass lines, this idea may have turned into something. She isn’t a bad artist, she is a lazy artist. She wants the same rewards those who work non-stop get without doing the work.
One of the things that pushed me forward both on youtube and in my own art was deciding that I was going to produce a new painting every week. Sometimes I do more, and sometimes it takes a couple of weeks on a bigger project, but I’m constantly working. I remember watching a video of an artist warning others from doing this because it would create rushed work. Nope, it created more work completed which in turn pushed me forward faster than if I was wasting time watching tv etc instead of getting my deadline goals met. The artist who warned others not to do this? Yeah, I’ve not seen anything at all from her in years. Which method worked?
Don’t be such a perfectionist that you produce nothing, but also don’t rush things to the point where they’re half-baked ideas. You have to find a balance to succeed with art as a career.