Dawn DeVries Sokol


Questioning Everything

So I made the mistake of going online to look at others’ lettering illustration. Why did I do this?? It always makes me question my desires for the next steps of my career and leads me to believe I’ll never get there. And it’s not worth it. I’m just setting up another roadblock.

It just so happens I’m not the only one to do this, though. You do it, too, RIGHT? You think, oh, I want to get inspired so I think I’ll wander around on the internet to look at others’ art and creations. If you’re not careful, though, this can turn into a hole you dig for yourself. It’s fine to look. But it’s BAD to compare, to start to question, to tell yourself you SUCK.

I’ve received a couple of emails lately that were so wonderful, yet made me a little sad. They told me they loved my work (wonderful part) but that they can’t doodle or journal like I do (the bad part). Admiring can turn into comparing, writing yourself off, and eventually becoming dreadfully blocked.

WHY do we do this to ourselves? It’s a way to procrastinate, to give into the fear we have. What fear is that? The fear of succeeding. The fear of trying and possibly NOT succeeding, or creating the way we want to. We need to give this up. We need to stop doing this to ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with admiring others’ work, but we can’t start comparing. And don’t say to yourself, “I’ll never journal like so-and-so.” Truthfully, why would you WANT to?

Honestly, I see so many journal artists that really have their own styles. I see their pages and I can immediately identify whose they are. As a former magazine art director, I used to do that with illustrators, too. I can still do it to an extent, but not as well since I don’t keep up on the market like I used to. Anyways, if you’re looking at your pages and thinking you want them to look like so-and-so’s, you need to do some re-evaluating of why you’re art journaling.

I see many journal artists who are blatantly copying other journal artists’ styles and that makes me sad. If you can’t be your TRUE self in your art journal, where CAN you be true? Our art journals are where we spill OURSELVES, our dreams, our hopes, our ideas, our visions, thoughts, etc. If we simply emulate someone else’s journal style, our pages tend to feel a little flat. It’s possible to emulate styles when we start out, just while we’re learning, and that’s OK. But to continuously do that and not grow, not evolve, not become your OWN voice, that’s not TRUE art journaling.

One of my mentors (I will not name names) once said she feels art journaling is more than just documenting our days in our journals. I don’t agree with that. I think we can get to something deeper through documentation, that documentation is the ROAD to baring our souls. So if you’re starting out, don’t feel pressure to journal “deep, soul-baring” pages. It’s too much stress.

And if you’re a doodler, like I am, and you start comparing your doodles to someone else’s, STOP IT! They are DOODLES!!! There are no BAD doodles!!! There are no BAD art journal pages!!!

I may have covered this topic before, I may have already said some of the very same things before, but I feel it deserves another post. I always need to remind myself of this, and I think other artists do, too. Thanks for reading my pep talk to myself. I needed that.