Written by Zofia Chrzan
If you’re reading this, chances are, you’re an artist. Or you want to be! Or you used to be!
No matter which tense or art medium you find yourself in, I think we can all agree on several facts.
Being “good” at art takes a lot of time. A lot of effort. In the beginning it feels impossible to ever get “good,” and progress seems to never show.
Although I stand strongly by the notion of no such thing as a Magic Tip for improvement, nor any piece of advice that will guarantee your artistic success, I’m here to tell you about one simple habit that is, in fact, a Magic Guarantee for improvement. This is what helped me go from following How to Draw tutorials step by step to getting accepted into the top art universities in America.
Draw every single day.
Every. Single. Day.
I started this habit sometime in 9th grade, after watching a video from Sycra, one of my favorite artists on YouTube, who talked about how he had kept a daily sketchbook for the past 5 or so years, and had never broken his streak.
I started my own sketchbook series that day, thinking I’d improve in an instant. Well, that of course didn’t happen. After I filled two sketchbooks cover to cover I still wasn’t happy with my art. But looking at the first few pages and comparing them to the most recent? The change was so obvious. See, when you force yourself to do something small every single day, no matter how tired or unmotivated you are, it really pulls out the basics and the things that matter most out of you. It also gives you a great documentation of your progress, of the phases of both your personal and artistic journey. On really bad days I pasted in scraps of magazines, or receipts, or just wrote down a song title I was listening to, and that can count as a drawing! When I started working in a big grocery store I started saving all the shopping lists I found forgotten on the floor, stuck them in my sketchbook, and drew up a little character who might’ve dropped that list.
Don’t worry about creating beautiful art with this strategy! Just draw anything. You don’t ever have to show anyone any of these drawings. I kept my first sketchbooks incredibly private. The first two haven’t been seen by anyone but me. As I grew in confidence though, I started to post some pages online. There’s no rush!
Everything you slowly develop through this practice will be incredibly helpful in any piece of art you create later on. I truly don’t think I would’ve fallen in love with making art or have gotten so far relatively quickly without the 9 and counting sketchbooks (not counting the ‘nice’ sketchbooks I had to keep for art classes!) I’ve filled up over the past two or so years.
When choosing a sketchbook for this grand purpose of drawing every day I mainly looked for the amount of pages and the cost. I didn’t care for the quality too much at the beginning, the most basic small wire bound was enough for those first couple months. Somewhere along the line I fell in love with watercolor and gouache though, and I had to search for a better quality paper, but I still didn’t want to spend fortunes on a sketchbook not intended for finished pieces. That’s when Pentalic saved the day!
The 8×6 travel journal is beyond perfect for this job. With my pace, each one lasts about 3 months for me to fill up, that elastic band really helps it not fall apart when I’m through! I can stuff receipts and stickers and postcards into the back and use all sorts of media inside. 10/10, can’t recommend it enough!
I do have to admit, I don’t have a perfect streak. Life gets in the way sometimes. What matters though is to not let yourself give up after a missed day. Get straight back into it.
In the end, talent or a “natural eye” means very little. Instead, patience, practice, and persistence mean everything.
If you want to get good at art, DO ART.
And never stop 🙂