“Work through the shit.”
There have been many times where I just can’t seem to make anything good, or sometimes even decent. Which is more than discouraging – critique after critique without anything worthwhile. But usually at my most frustrated my professor was there telling me I gotta work through the shit to get to the good stuff. Not everything can be the best idea you’ve ever had or the best piece you’ve ever made. So, make the bad stuff, keep the bits and pieces that work and throw out the rest. Repeat.
“It’s good to experiment and try new things, but it’s also okay to do what you’re best at.”
When I was trying to come up with something amazing for my undergraduate senior exhibition, I continuously tried to do things I had never done, stuff completely different than any of my previous work. Of course, this was unsuccessful and frustrating. The photography artist in residence at the time finally took me aside after a rather frustrating critique, and told me that it was great that I was trying new things, but it was also okay to just stick to what I was really good at: portraits. There is no shame in doing what you’re good at – you can always experiment, but in preparation for an upcoming show is not necessarily that time.
“Read about art. Look at art. Make art.”
As an artist I feel like I have to be constantly making artwork. But I never seemed to have time to recharge, find new ideas, and push my work further. I was struggling to make anything new even just once per week and I was feeling completely artistically exhausted, I asked the photography artist in residence how he did it. His response has been something that I have stuck too and has helped me immensely. Read about art, look at art, make art. You don’t have to do all three at the same time, but you should always be doing at least one of those things. You need new ideas, new material, new inspiration. You have to be watching and reading about what other artists are doing. Take time to recharge yourself. Work in your sketchbook and save ideas for when you have the time and energy to execute them.