Don’t Fall for the Trap

Charles de Lint quoteIt’s easy to lose sight of our path. It’s easy to paint what everyone else is painting. It’s easy to think I’ll never be as good as “them.” It’s easy to fall into the trap.

If you aren’t painting for you, you’re stifling your own creative voice. This makes you unique, what sets you apart from other artists. There are dozens of artist/illustrators I admire, and there is a small part of me that hopes and wishes I might be as great as them one day. But focusing on that won’t get me anywhere. As much as I admire Todd Lockwood, Cynthia Sheppard, Dan Dos Santos, and Cory Godbey (to name only a few), trying to be them is a trap.

When I start falling down the hole of self doubt, that treacherous trap, I make a point of signing off social media. It’s easy to feel less than, to start comparing my paintings to others, and think, I’ll never get there. That doubt can become so intense it affects my creativity. So I shut everything out. I start drawing, doodling, daydreaming of new worlds and focusing on what my heart wants to create. Not what I think I should create. I focus on bettering my skills and stop trying to be anything other than me.

One day I’ll be the best me.

Spirit Guardian by Amanda Makepeace

Why am I sharing these thoughts? Because this applies not just to artists, but anyone who creates. Learn your craft, practice, hone your skills, create from your heart and then share it with the world. Be the best you, not a mimic of someone else. You’ll be happier.

About Amanda Makepeace

Amanda Makepeace is an award winning illustrator inspired by nature, mythology, magical beings, and distant worlds. She is the co-founder of the Bird Whisperer Project, a monthly art challenge focused on spreading the the love of birds and art making for everyone. Her art has appeared in ENnie award-winning games and on the covers popular independant novels and anthologies. Her latest project is the cover art for the Long List Anthology Volume 4, a book featuring Hugo nominated stories. Amanda is a regular at Fantasy and SciFi conventions in the southeast, and an award winner at JordanCon, DragonCon, ChattaCon, and LibertyCon.
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  1. Do you know, it took me a while to understand this lesson! I compared myself to other writers and felt I needed to adjust my words to fit, maybe mine just weren’t right…but there is no right or wrong! There’s good and learning, and practice helps with the latter, lol.
    Once I recognised my own style, my own words, my own writing, I was able to embrace it and be myself. What I admired in others was important, helped me learn more, and let me practice diversity, but my own style is mine…and is who I am.
    I don’t fight it anymore, I learned that people like, maybe love, my writing, and I was doing myself a disservice trying to be someone else!
    Embracing my own style was the best thing I ever did and the best thing for my writing too.
    We should always strive to be the best ‘me’…great words Amanda!

    • “I was doing myself a disservice trying to be someone else!” Yes!!

      I had a feeling others would relate to this, it’s good to be reminded and it’s good to pass it on to younger artists and writers who might be struggling with this right now. It pains me when I see creative folks say things like, “I’ll never be a great as *insert famous artist/writer/musician*.” Being the best You, the bravest thing any of us can do.

      Thank you, Lisa for sharing a bit about your overcoming the trap!

  2. Thank you for this, Amanda. I agree whole-heartedly with you about getting off social media. Unfortunately in there one is walking through a market selling everything you can think of. Naturally the guy selling potatoes is going to get rid of more than the lady selling pressed flowers – completely different customers.
    Comparing oneself to anyone is destructive and it took me years and a few breakdowns to realise it. Thank you xx

    • Thank you, Ailsa! Peace of mind and confidence in our own abilities can be a struggle. Sometimes it gets easier with age and experience, but I know for some it’s a constant struggle. I hope all of us talking about it will help someone in the grip of this trap!

  3. Just what I needed to hear. Thanks for the wise words and wonderful reminders.

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