You heard me, I want to kill my superartist. But hear me out, there are a lot of benefits, as I’ve been finding the more damaging blows I’ve dealt my delusions of perfection. You see, the problem is that just by existing, my superartist keeps me from being the best artist I can be. Sure, pursuit of improvement is great and I wholeheartedly encourage such, but the pursuit of perfection, of your superwhatever, is delusional at best. At worst it will kill you inside.
Now before you get all excited about such a cool original idea, it’s not. The husband and I have been reading through Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell and I was struck by Rob’s talk of his striving to meet the expectations of, basically be, his superpastor. I especially appreciated the uncomfortable image Rob writes of this:
“So I had one choice - I had to kill superpastor.
I had to take him out back and end his pathetic existence.”
Followed a bit later by this:
“And the only way to not be killed by it is to shoot first.
Yes, that is what I meant to write.
You have to kill your superwhatever.
And you have to do it right now.
Because your superwhatever will rob you of today and tomorrow and the next day until you take it out back and end it’s life.”
It resonated so much with me as I’d experienced the near death of my creativity due not just to depression or life circumstances (though one could argue chicken or egg here) but also to my pursuit of being superartist. Nothing I did was good enough, nothing was worthy enough. I wasn’t worthy of being called an artist and how could I when I wasn’t living up to superartist? It started out innocently enough, shirking creativity for other things in small ways and then in desperation as nothing I drew/created stacked up to my ridiculously perfect ideal. It all happened so neatly I never saw it coming until it was way too late.
My mantra of late has been, “perfect is the enemy of good.” Which I checked into and apparently is attributed to Voltaire. Anyways, everyone, especially myself, can always find just one more thing to fix about a work. But the dogged pursuit of perfect means that nothing you ever work on will be complete, meaning you will never share whatever it is with the world. And I get it, the world is a big and often scary place with which to share parts of yourself. Often it can feel like you are screaming into the void because nobody seems to be hearing you.
On the other side of it. What will the response be if I mess it all up, if I make a mistake? God forbid, if I have a typo in my post. What then? Honestly I struggle with this a lot, especially in my art. If it isn’t looking good within the first mins of a sketch I have to consciously push myself to continue. The translation from the pretty image in my head to paper (or iPad) isn’t ever going to be a perfect process.
And, I try to remind myself, the only way to ease it is to practice. But practice, especially for me with my art, makes me stare my imperfections straight in the face. That makes it hard to pursue, specifically when things are still so raw from my delusions of perfection.
So, yes, I’m working on killing my superartist one deft, hopefully critical, blow at a time. Unfortunately I don’t see it as clean cut as what Rob Bell wrote, I have to battle my superartist daily to retake the beauty of the imperfect and flawed that is my creativity.
The damage is stacking up against superartist, slowly but surely. I bought an iPad and Apple Pencil to start creating digital art, started seriously drawing and creating art again this year, started an art shop (still as shocked as ever on this one), and the most recent and damning blows against my superartist: buying myself an art app for my iPad called Procreate.
Each step has shed new light on the stupid stories of perfection that I was using to hold myself hostage to constant failure. A main thread of which was that I wasn’t a good enough artist to deserve a good art app (even though it was a mere $9.99 on the app store). I wasn’t a good enough artist to even deserve the joy of creating...that’s how bad it had gotten.
The craziest thing of the whole situation is that I am happiest when I am creating and my superartist led me into believing that I would be better off not doing that because I wasn’t good enough. I’ve been happily overwhelmed now that I’ve been creating again. I’ve got sooo much going on this year, and I couldn’t be happier. Even the discomfort of the hormone shift from stopping my birth control will not get me down for long!
—A Recovering Design Imposter
PS. This is a video of me trying to do some art and would be an oversite not to share on this post. Especially as this is one of my current projects that nearly didn't make it beyond a frustratingly abandoned sketch. Work in progress. This week has been somewhat rough but I'm actually excited to get back to this scary sea serpent piece.