I sometimes find that when I am drawing, there’s a sneaky, subtle temptation to imitate. Especially when I’m able to identify a certain style or mannerism that’s very popular with those circles I’m used to moving in – there’s the thought, “oh, well, this is what people like, and so it must be good, and if I want to be successful, I need to teach myself to draw like that.”
And it’s very persistent, and sometimes it wins over, and there is of course the bewildered disappointment when my attempts to pander don’t net me the success they have for others.
It takes a certain special kind of mental discipline to have enough faith in yourself to be willing to sing with your own voice. People are drawn to novelty, and if you are willing to be different simply by being yourself, rather than by some forced effort to stand apart from the crowd, that kind of distinctiveness has a very appealing resonance.
One of my guiding principles for about the last half of the decade has been: do the work that you want to do, and do it as best you can, and your audience will find you. It’s not a lesson that sticks, though. I have to keep learning it over and over.