Irrational Confidence

Ryan Stegman is an amazing artist who’s probably best known right now for drawing Superior Spider-Man. On Tuesday, he wrote an amazing tumblr post about Irrational Confidence and How It Helps Artists, which I think everyone should read. In it he talks about the confidence level that all creative people, hell, all people period should have. Here’s my favorite part:

I’ve seen plenty of guys along the way that had the wrong type of irrational confidence. In their eyes, they are already good enough. They were born great and it is just on the world’s shoulders to stand up and notice them. These guys hit a certain level of ability and just seemed to stall out. Why? Because their self-assuredness told them that they didn’t need to study. They didn’t need to read books on illustration or de-construct their favorite artist’s work. They were already pleased enough with themselves.

But the irrational confidence that I had, that I would hope that you as an aspiring artist would have, is that you can teach yourself to be better. Because you can ALWAYS get better. 

I spend a lot of time talking to younger people and students through the music I make. I’ve never seen a generation of young people who have more enthusiasm, while lacking the self confidence to do things. A lot of people who want so badly to do things; but are seemingly waiting on permission to do them. It’s not just young people, a lot of people in their 30s and 40s that I know still exhibit this lack of self confidence (but maybe lacking the enthusiasm). So many people who think that somehow the stars will align for them, that Mufasa will appear in the sky and tell you that you can now be an artist, or a musician, or… I dunno, a wood carver. Whatever.

But more than that, I think a lot of people are just terrified of being bad at something; much less being PUBLICLY bad at something. The idea that when you finally release your beautiful gift to the world, it will be perfect. It will never be perfect. It shouldn’t be perfect. You should always be growing, improving, evolving as an artist. And that evolution often comes, hell, it HAS to come with some public embarrassment, some gnashing of teeth over the fact that others see your work, and that you know deep inside that it can and WILL get better.

That’s what being an artist is about. It’s not about how great you are at any given moment. It’s about how much you resolve to get better every time you step into the batter’s box. The confidence that next time you swing the bat, it’s a home run.

Chris and I could probably tell you tons of stories about songs/comics/arts that we’ve done that we hate. How much we think we’re awesome at the things we do, while hating almost everything we put out. That unfailing, unwavering confidence that you will get better. That someday, you’ll be great.

Start there. Start by reading Ryan’s post. Get better. Make stuff.

Also, he’s awesome and everyone should be reading Superior Spider-Man:


Rap game Otto Octavius out.

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