Tutorial Addiction and the Pitfalls of Social Improvement

Ok, so you’ve got your 700 Photoshop brush packs from your favorite artists, you’ve downloaded all the free eBooks, you’ve got a black hole of bookmarks in your web browser, and a folder of 10,000 inspirational images. You’re ready for some serious artwork! Except you have no idea how to even begin a drawing or painting. “Wait, I’ve got all the resources at my finger tips don’t I? That’s the glory of the internet and social media! All my friends love my sketches and tell me what a great artist I am, but all I do is sketch on my homework and draw fan art of my favorite anime characters. Why can’t I just start a drawing?” Two words my friends, “Tutorial Addiction.”

This phrase came to me earlier this week and it’s been really festering in my mind. Even I fall prey to the illusion of social improvement, being both an avid watcher of art videos on YouTube and a creator of them too. However, at the end of the day everything still comes down to actually making something. This is where many young (and even old) artists get stuck. You think that after one tutorial you’re ready to create a masterpiece, and when your piece turns out less than expected you get frustrated. “Hey I watched the tutorial and understood it, why can’t I do it like they can?”

This is the difference between having resources, and properly utilizing them. Following a tutorial and doing the demonstration only goes so far. The catalyst for true improvement happens when you apply what you learned to your art and build up your own techniques based on what other artists have done. When you apply the concept behind your favorite paintings, matched with knowledge of the artists that came before you, then and only then can you start to improve your work.

The idea of social improvement through your art community isn’t a bad thing. I would sound like a complete hypocrite if I was trying to imply such a thing. However, focusing on your community rather than your own work can stint your growth as a creative individual. Additionally, hording resources doesn’t help you either. Having great tools only goes as far as your experience and skills. If you still don’t have a grasp on the human figure, no fancy Photoshop technique or type of pencil will help you master it (only time and determination will).  If you spend the majority of your time finding tutorials instead of creating art, then what you will master is your office skills not mastery of drawing.

Sure tutorial addiction isn’t quite as nasty as say substance addiction, but it is something that plagues many artists. At the end of the day, however, you work is more important than simply a bundle of free tutorials and inspirational images. Having a love for creating art is always the first stage in improving it. You have to love to create regardless of the quality of the finished product. You have to make the time to create your work too. Maybe you’re a busy student, maybe a single parent with a love for creative projects. Maybe you’re single and work 2 jobs to pay off your college loans. Regardless of your situation your time is precious, so finding the time for your art should be just as important as your day to day life. Create a schedule for drawing or painting if you have to. MAKE the time if your art is something you truly care about and want to improve on. When you have the time then you can work on your art and once you finish a project, start another piece learning from your mistakes on the last one.

What are your thoughts on this concept of “tutorial addiction?” Are you an addict yourself, or have you broken free of your chains of doubt? Join in the conversation about it in the comments below.