Why You're Disappointed with Your Artwork

Do you feel disappointed with your drawings? I do. Often!

As a beginner artist in my teens, I dreamt I would outgrow this feeling. However, at thirty-four, I am still disappointed with my work. I am still waiting for the day when I feel like my work measures up to the artists I admire.

Why is it that creative people feel disappointed in their work?

To explain what we experience, Ira Glass coined the term Taste Gap. He says...

"All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But it's like there is this gap. For the first couple years that you're making stuff, what you're making isn't so good. It's not that great. It's trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it's not that good."

Trying to reach.

What Lured You to the Game

Perhaps the admiration of your favourite artists made you want to be one yourself. But once you draw, you realise it's not as easy as the masters make it look. It's simpler to appreciate good art than to make it yourself. When you look at art created by others, you can discern what you like and don't. But if you try to create good art yourself, you start to realise the amount of dedication that goes into mastering your craft.

In the beginning, it can be difficult to even know what to draw when you open your sketchbook. Once you start drawing, you are faced with the mediocrity of your own work; this can leave you feeling disheartened. Many people quit at this point rather than face the challenge ahead of building the skills required to be a proficient artist.

"But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you're making is kind of a disappointment to you. A lot of people never get past that phase. They quit."

climbing uphill

You knew it fell short

The reason that you feel dissatisfied with your art is that you have confronted THE TASTE GAP. You recognise that your art falls short of the work you admire.

Your taste in art is good, perhaps too good. The artists that you respect have been at their craft for decades. Meanwhile, you are beginning your journey to be an artist. You compare the apprentice to the master. No wonder you are disappointed!


"Everybody I know who does interesting, creative work they went through years where they had really good taste and they could tell that what they were making wasn't as good as they wanted it to be. They knew it fell short. Everybody goes through that."

Okay, you understand what the taste gap means and why you feel your work falls short. What now?

Bridging the gap

Developing your artistic muscles takes time, consistency and dedication. You need to show up and create even when your work disappoints you. You must be prepared to do the hard yards and create a lot of work. Building a commitment to your art practice is the only way to improve. Show up daily, if not, as often as you can until you can create the art that got you into the game.

Do a lot of work.

"And if you are just starting out or if you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week or every month you know you're going to finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you're going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you're making will be as good as your ambitions.

I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I've ever met . It takes a while. It's gonna take you a while. It's normal to take a while. You just have to fight your way through that."

Shifting goal posts

I need to caution you. So far in the post, you might believe that there will come a day when you will be satisfied with your art. The reality is that it probably won't happen. As you practice your art, you realise that your taste evolves. What might have been difficult to master a few years ago is now easy. This means that you have new goals and new levels to aspire to.

Newer, higher aspirations

I think feeling disappointed with our work simply means we care. We want to be better and push ourselves to improve. Let's come to expect it and show up anyway. Ignore the doubt and as Ira Glass says "fight your way through that".

Fighting doubt and uncertainity

This post's content comes from my fortnightly newsletter. If you enjoyed reading it, consider signing up for my newsletter where I cover the challenges artists face and provide solutions to overcome them.

If you are feeling stuck and unmotivated, check out this post on - How to Enjoy Your Creativity & Overcome Your Fear of Failure

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