Welcome to Week 2 of #HOMwork! This week, we're tackling perfectionism by digging into our past. Okay, that sounded way darker than it actually is, so let me give you a little backstory (if you don't want backstory, just scroll to the end for the assignment in purple):
Before my lettering journey began, I'd never been much of a perfectionist. However, once I dove deeper into the detailed world of lettering and started to discover other incredible artists out there, I started becoming much more critical of my work.
Criticism that leads to growth & improvement is a good and necessary part of the creative process. However, often times it's easy to become our own harshest critics, causing us to fixate on imperfections and stuff our work into desk drawers, never to be seen by anyone else.
Logically, we know the formula to building a following around our artwork is pretty simple: make good work + publish that work where people can see it.We also know that our bottom desk drawer probably doesn't classify as a "place where people can see our work". So how do we break the cycle?
Whenever I catch myself being too critical of my own work nowadays, I like to remind myself of this old artwork from October 2012:
It was one of the first pieces I ever lettered & published online, and I very clearly remember how I felt about posting it:
"THIS IS THE BEST THING I'VE EVER MADE. I'M SO FREAKING EXCITED."- Lauren Hom, lettering newbie, age 21
You and I both know that it isn't the best thing I've ever made, but at the time, it sure felt like it. Because I wasn't "in" the lettering world yet, I had no inhibitions about sharing work that wasn't perfect.
Knowing what I know now, I can actually point out everything that's wrong with it:
As imperfect as my lettering was, I posted it. And then I lettered some more imperfect pieces and posted them too. This was the start of Daily Dishonesty, my collection of lettered white lies that ended up going viral, landing me abook deal, and kickstarting my lettering career into what it is today.
Imagine if I had let the fear of my lettering not being "perfect" stop me from sharing it? I probably wouldn't be writing you this email right now (gasp!)
Here's my revised piece:
I want you to choose an old piece that you remember being really proud of at the time, but when you look at it now, you're a little grossed out. I think that looking back at old work and kinda hating it is a good thing because it means your taste & skills have improved as an artist!
After you complete the assignment, the second part of the challenge is to share your "before" and "after" artwork on Instagram with the hashtag #HOMwork so we can see what everyone created. I'd suggest placing them side by side in an image (like I did at the top of this email) or posting individual images in an Instagram gallery.
In the caption, I want you to write about what you know now vs. then. Share a few stories of things that have helped you grow as an artist since you created the old piece, and tell us what you hope to accomplish in that amount of time from today!
The goal of this week's exercise is to learn how to embrace your past (not try to hide it) and to take a moment to appreciate how much you've grown in the time since you created the old artwork.
Seeing my old piece and my new piece side by side made me realize how much progress I've made in the 5+ years since I began lettering. There's a controlled crispness to my work now, but there's also something charming about the rough, wobbliness of my old work.
Remember: once your skills have improved, it's really difficult to go back to the way you used to draw. I encourage you to appreciate your past work, enjoy the process of creating your current work, and maybe even get a little excited for how good your future work will be.
Looking forward to seeing your #HOMwork on Instagram this week :)
PS If you're feeling nervous about sharing your old work, don't be. Here's a piece from my high school portfolio to make you feel better lol.