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Embrace being an amateur and share your work

Updated: Sep 12, 2021

I recently read Austin Kleon's book called Share your Work. It was really inspiring for me, and eye-opening in the way I get very nervous showing people my work, especially when it's not perfect. For that reason, I often hide much of what I do and then never have anything to share with you all! I'm learning to get over my complex of having to be perfect, and Austin Kleon's book gave me that boost. So, today I'm sharing the lesson I learned with you in his book: embrace being an amateur and share your work.

The key idea of how to embrace being an amateur and share your work

What does it mean to embrace being an amateur and share your work? Well, often people feel they have to be good at something straight away. We get nervous about the beginner stage, and feel like we can't be 'new' at something. In fact, Austin says that this amateur stage is one of the best places to be, as you get away with exploration and having fun and just learning new things. If you're an expert, you have no place to hide and more criticism. As an amateur, the world of learning and mistakes is open to you, and no one really cares.

As such, the time of an amateur is the perfect time to play around and share your work. Share the new processes you're learning, your explorations, have a bit of fun, and bring people along for the ride. People will come along for the journey and see how you're growing, and you'll develop a great network of people who also support you and love what you're interested in too.

How I've been embracing this idea

It's going to be hard for a while to get used to this new idea and breaking free from perfectionism. However, it's the perfect time to start: now.

Stage one of me using this is with my book writing. Actually, scratch that, with any writing in general, as since I read that book, I've been doing it with these blog posts. I used to spend ages worrying about what to write, planning it, drafting it, reviewing it ... now I just write it and let it happen. It's more me now, I feel, so I'm enjoying it more. I'm sharing my work, letting go of the need to be perfect, and I'm doing that also in my blogs while I share it.

Additionally, for ages, I've wanted to get back into drawing. But, again, I always worried when something went wrong or worried about showing people in case it wasn't good. How much angst is it to live like that?! No more, no way. So, I've been enjoying getting back into drawing (with pencil or biro on paper) and I've even embraced being an amateur by learning something new that I've wanted to do for ages but always worried about: digital art.

So, from here on, I'm going to show you my journey of teaching myself how to draw digitally and getting better at drawing in general and exploring the world of art again. I've really missed it. See how being overly critical of myself has held me back?

It's time to change that. So, with my writing, drawing, digital art ... anything I do from here on, I'm going to embrace being an amateur and share my work, and I'd love for you to come on the journey with me. Let's get rid of the mindset that we have to be great all the time at what we do. It can't be healthy.

And to start it off, here's the first digital art I'd like to share with you on this journey to share my work and growth.

Image 1: Pantherlily

Pantherlily is one of my favourite manga/anime characters ever. He's a magical panther warrior who turned chibi (small) when he was sucked into a different world with less magic. He's still really cool and strong though, and his favourite thing is kiwis.

Sorry, Lily, I forgot your tail :O

I used my Pantherlily plush (yes, I'm an absolute otaku and have anime merch for my favs) as the reference for this piece.

I learned a lot in drawing this by watching YouTube videos on a few techniques I wanted to learn:

  • Sketching and then using a new layer to make one single, sure outline. I'm a feathery drawer by nature, and my dad often tries to tell me to just to one single line ... but, Daaaaad ...

  • How to fill in areas of colour by referencing the outline layer and dragging and dropping the colour into that space.

  • How to make my lines smooth rather than uneven (look at the outline of the kiwis vs the outlines of Pantherlily. See how it's much smoother? Progress even in one drawing!)

Next drawing, I want to learn/develop:

  • Smooth lines for the whole image outline now I know how to do it.

  • How to use layer masks to assist with colour shading so I can add 3D vibes, not just block colours.

  • How to reduce the pixelated feel on lines by choosing the correct canvas size.

Onwards and upwards, and I'm excited to be doing this and sharing it with you.

Will you embrace being an amateur and share your work?

I hope this helps you give yourself a chance to embrace being an amateur and share your work. Is there something you want to try or pick back up again that you were being too harsh on yourself with that you really want to give a go again?

Try it, and share your journey. I'm sure you'll be warmed with the encouragement you're given. I think, more than anything, people like seeing the growth journey of others, especially as it seems more relatable than seeing someone be instantly great at something. It brings back the enjoyment of a hobby or skill and brings a more positive mindset to it.

And, if you want to buy Austin Kleon's book and learn more about embracing being an amateur and sharing your work, I 100% recommend it. It's a small but beautiful book with lots of little pieces of growth advice. You can get it on Amazon here: Austin Kleon: Share Your Work.

What do you think of this concept?

Will you embrace being an amateur and share your work?

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