I’ve often heard the phrase, “I don’t like failing, so I just don’t try” and while I understand it, I also view it as one of the greatest mental traps of all time. Personally, I typically fall for a cousin of this concept, which is the “I don’t like failing, so I’ll prepare and prepare and prepare so it’s IMPOSSIBLE TO FAIL BECAUSE I WILL HAVE A CONTINGENCY FOR EVERYTHING.” Still, they’re all in the same family, born of the same place.
The funny thing about learning is that it comes from mistakes, not successes. So it’s strange that we avoid mistakes with such fervor when really they’re the best game in town. John Wooden said “If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.” I think this illustrates the consequences of “Don’t try, don’t fail” — namely, that by not trying anything is the greatest failure at all, because it means that nothing is being done! Which means that nobody gets better, nobody learns, and the world becomes a completely stagnant place. How miserable!!
That’s part of why I enjoy seeing how terrible my artwork was ten years ago, five years ago, one year ago. If I can look back and say “Oof! That’s awful!” it means I have gained the skills to see the mistakes. So I’m still getting better. I hope with all my heart that I never look back at my work after a year and think it looks just as good, or better, than the work I’m doing today.
Don’t believe me? Okay. You brought this on yourself. Here’s what I was working on when…
(14 years ago) I was 13: Issue Three of OtherM
(11 years ago) I was 16: First pages of Shades of Grey
(7 years ago) I was 20: 80% of the way through Shades of Grey
(4 years ago) I was 23: I started Oberon’s Garden OCT
Can you see the difference? I sure can. Ye gods, have I improved!