When I first starting getting into art properly (around my first year of 6th form college), I’d convinced myself that, because I was a poor student, I couldn’t afford ‘the good stuff’ and I needed to just pick up rubbish versions of good products and bodge things together.
Cue never testing out my designs – or even bothering to design things before I started! – along with cheap paintbrush sets that came apart on their first use, £1 sets of acrylics that were so watered down they just bled everywhere, and trying to glue pieces of wood together with PVA. And then I would just bin them and get more because, well, they were only cheap!
And my work was, well, rubbish.
But it didn’t need to be. One or two good tools, and I could have done anything. I found an awesome artist on Instagram this week who makes really cool jewellery out of recycled toilet roll tubes. The reason her projects work is that she takes time to design them properly, measures out the pieces, and uses good tools, colours and adhesives to make the finished products shine with her little bit of awesome. And she’s recycling, which is always awesome in my book. (For anyone interested, she lives here: LINK)
Now that I saved up some money and took the time to choose some good tools (and actually design my projects and make prototypes out of some lovely cheap recycled paper before I take a knife/brush/needle/hammer to my final pieces) I am noticing a huge difference in my work.
However, with that difference I’ve also noticed that while my work is getting better, I’m often distracted by personal stuff. Like whether I fancy a nap, which biscuits I should munch on, and my slowly expanding waistline.
It’s all very well and good sitting and making things all day, but I’ve realised that if I don’t treat myself the way I treat my tools, I’m going to end up like one of those rubbish sets of paintbrushes and come apart. Because as an artist, I am my most important tool. (Yep, get those “Steph’s a tool” jokes out folks!!)
And for your success, you’re a pretty important factor in that too! So make sure, if you’re not looking after yourself the way you would that customer, or report, or project or even paintbrush like me, try giving your most important tool a little TLC. Go for that walk, eat that salad (or soup, I love soup), get someone to give you a shoulder rub, and balance your time so you get chance to stop and watch the clouds occasionally.
Maybe you’ll create some better art too!