Getting Bullied by Imposter Syndrome

This Tuesday night, I find myself sitting before my computer staring at a drawing━a real drawing: pencil and paper━it's digital scan, and wondering about the complexities of artistry and technique and how technology has impacted the art field as well as our own personal feelings about art-making.

For those of you unfamiliar with the torture that is impostor syndrome, allow me to enlighten you. It's the anxiety you get when you undervalue yourself and your accomplishments, even when you and your accomplishments are well-received and obviously up to, if not exceeding, the standards of the general populace. One can also feel, "The way I do something isn't a legitimate way to be doing it, especially when compared to how all these other people in my field accomplish the same thing."

How this looks in my own life: I don't like drawing. I think I finally have to be honest with myself and say that I just don't care for it, which sucks because that's the cornerstone of all art-creating processes.

It especially sucks when the kind of art I love and wish to produce is art that features beautiful, clean, expressive lineart... which needs to first be drawn.

To cope with this, I've subconsciously been gravitating more towards starting my pieces in Photoshop; I can work out all the messiness there, project the finished "drawing" onto my desired painting surface, and trace it.

But even in Photoshop, I'm not really drawing anything. Most of the time, I'm re-posing and manipulating something that's already been done, such as that real drawing I mentioned at the beginning of this post. At best I'll put down a sketch and then manipulate everything, like having a digital pose-able figure.

Basically my process consists of way too much technological manipulation of digital drawings and not enough real drawing, which creates the perfect avenue for Imposter Syndrome to come along and whisper in my ear, "You're like, not even arting right now, how fake."

The worst part about this? I can sit here and rationalize my art-making process all day long: I've found this to be more efficient and consistent than drawing everything by hand and I'd like to get my books out sooner rather than later, thank you very much.

Technology is always made to make our lives easier, to help us advance as a society. Of course this principle applies to art-making technologies like Photoshop and Procreate as well. Why shouldn't I use them in this way? Is this not development of a new technique? A marriage of digital and traditional art?

Of course it is, but again, I.S. comes along and tries to contradict me. "You're getting worse at real drawing because you never do it. Photoshop is just the easy way out, not the challenging way."

"Do I have to be challenged in this way?" I ask. "Art is never easy; this painting I'm making is challenging me in other ways. I have to finally visualize Serra's disgusting, deformed leg in a way that makes the anatomy fantastic but still believable. Her neck spines have to be the right size in relation to her neck vertebrae. Her wing structure?? Her flight bones and muscles connect to her body somehow, but whether they share a joint at her normal shoulder, form a new shoulder entirely, or maybe connect to a more sturdy structure like another pelvis??? She's incredibly long and I have to make sure her tail balances out her head, neck, and shoulders so that she's not front-heavy while flying.

"I have all this and more to worry about and you're making me feel guilty about not wanting to draw it by hand???

"Real artists can draw."

"So I'm not a real artist?? You want me to abandon my drawing manipulation because I'm not putting forth the effort to make things harder for myself when I already have limited art-making time? The final result that I'm putting forward is a painting, not a drawing; why should I or anyone else care how I get there?"

At this point I have to sit back and take a moment to breathe, and wonder.

If someone else came up to me and said they were having this exact problem, what would I tell them? "If you want to get better at drawing, then draw," I'd say, "but if Marcel Duchamp can put a urinal in a museum and have others call it high art, you can manipulate drawings in Photoshop and project them onto paper and paint them, dammit."

I'm going to take my own advice for now and keep manipulating drawings and projecting and painting... at least until I.S. decides to materialize out of the shadows again. Sigh.


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For those of you who are concerned: No, I do not have some kind of personality disorder; it's easiest to explain my feelings in this blog post by personifying some of them.

Picture was found on Google Images. There's plenty of funny illustrations about I.S. that I just couldn't fit in here; I'd encourage you to go have a look at them.


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