What advice do you have for a young artist?

I get this one a lot, and I’m going to answer it more along the lines of “what am I glad I did as a young artist, and what do I wish I had done as a young artist?”

Challenge yourself. Never feel comfortable.  Well, feel comfortable after you finish a piece – stare at it, be proud of what you did, make it your phone wallpaper so you can pat yourself on the back – but once you’re done, start chasing that horizon!  I’m still constantly learning as an artist, and it blows my mind how often I’ll have some sort of REVELATION about how something works or how I want to paint it once I’m willing to step outside my comfort zone and fail for a bit.

Learn to love making ugly art.  This is one I need to constantly remind myself of, but in today’s “everything you make is destined for public consumption” atmosphere it’s easy to get caught up in the expectations and obligations that come with having an audience, no matter the size.  As a result, you can end up forgetting that making some ugly art, failing on a regular basis, is the foundation on which you become a better artist.  Don’t expect every piece to be perfect, and let your sketchbooks be testaments to your terrible-but-steady progress as an artist!  You deserve it.

WORK WITH INTENTION.  We all stumble across revelatory designs every once in a while, but most of the time the shotgun “spray and pray” school of design ends up with a lot of garbage.  Work thoughtfully, work with intention.  Know what you’re doing.  Don’t draw something because it’s easy, don’t draw the same face you’ve drawn a thousand times before.

Take breaks.  Art isn’t a race, and it’s definitely not a zero-sum game!  Individual jobs are, sure, but your improvement as an artist doesn’t have to rapid, nor does it have to be constant, nor does it have to align with anyone else’s timeline or milestones.  You aren’t a gymnast, you can still milk this stuff in your eighties.