I figure it's pretty easy to learn from success. Everyone does that pretty much as a given. What's harder is figuring out how to learn from your mistakes. Mistakes are a big part of the art process, and I think some people are ashamed to admit that. People want to think that "there are no mistakes in art" but at the same time, pretty much everyone agrees that there are different degrees of success.
I for one, am not ashamed of my mistakes. I'm proud of what I've learned from them. I figure maybe some others could learn a thing or two from them too.
- Don't try to fit into an art cliche. Art is all about originality and novelty. Having inspirations is great, even essential, but don't try to make your art fit into a certain brand. That's not art. That's marketing.
- Don't be intimidated by great artists. Usually, they are happy to share their art wisdom and they probably don't think they're as great as you do. People are born with a knack for art, but it takes years and years to develop that skill. They've worked hard to get where they're at.
- Art is equal parts skill and vision. If you have one without the other, your work will be unremarkable. If you are a skilled artist without vision all you will have is a pretty picture, and paintings by an artistic soul without skill are not something beautiful to behold. Work on developing BOTH sides. I think I am heavier on the vision side, so I have to take extra time to develop my skill.
- Don't try to repeat past successes. Sometimes its scary to move forward after a success, but you have to if you want to grow as an artist! Its easy to stay with something because you know it works. Its harder to experiment and find something BETTER.
- Don't forget to balance your work. It doesn't matter what kind of art you do, balance is key. You have to find the right tone, the right colors, a balance of shapes and textures. Juxtaposition will make your work so much more interesting. Its more than just finding pretty colors and shapes. Its about finding the perfect BALANCE of color and shape.
- Don't be afraid to lose or fail. If you are always trying to stay away from the edge, you're never going to make anything that captures peoples' attention. Don't be afraid to do something different and don't be afraid of competitions. I once almost talked myself out of doing a painting competition because I was scared of losing. I changed my mind at the last minute and did a knockout job on my painting, met a lot of great artists, and learned some new techniques.
- Don't stay in your bubble. I still have trouble with this one. Once I get comfortable with a technique its easy for me to fall back on it over and over. Its important, though, to branch out and learn new skills and challenge yourself and your audience.
- Don't compromise. If you have a vision, don't stop working on your project until that vision is REALIZED. Don't settle for something less than perfect.