Practice Does Not Make Perfect

November 21, 2012

This essay is easier to understand if you’ve read these previous ones on immersion and on failure.

Previous Next

59 Responses to Practice Does Not Make Perfect

  1. Dustin on November 21, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Once again I feel like you’ve managed to take a really abstract idea and turn it into an clear comic essay. Great job!

    I feel like this is the best way to grow as an artist. I have a few artist that I really like and I’ve spent hours analyzing their work, trying to figure out how they did it and the process they took to get there. I’ve since created my own process based off of things I like.

    Glad I’m not the only one who does this.

  2. Minerva on November 21, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    Finally I find someone who talks about practice in a PRACTICAL way. LOL What you describe it’s exactly the way how after years of trying to develop a style, I finally developed it. I’m not a very disciplined person, so practicing daily never worked with me, but to compensate, I have a very good visual memory, and I did what you’ve described on the comics. All the years I’ve spent simply practicing technique never gave me a style to work with, only after I observed, analyzed and played with other artists’ elements did I find it.

    Until reading your comics I felt a bit guilty about not practicing that much, but it seems that I’m ok. The method of the 10,000 hours of practice isn’t the only way to get somewhere, after all. :)

  3. Benjamin on November 21, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    As someone in high school, I think this is really true; though I think there might come a point where imitation is no longer the emphasis, where you cut your own path. Fot instance, not many people draw essays like you -

    Thanks for making these, they’re always inspiring to read!

  4. Hazel on November 21, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    Inspiring, as always.

    I want to print this out and stick it to my office wall. :)

  5. Unk on November 22, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    Excellent as always!

  6. ollwenjones on November 23, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Good stuff. “Practice makes Permanent” was an adage of one of my toughest art professors.

    I would also assert that if you can, study and imitate not only the pieces you admire, but the techniques, of those who made them (if you can). That’s where your ol’ painting prof with “nothing to teach” really failed you. If you can learn from a master directly, not just from his works, how great would that be?

  7. Kat H. on November 28, 2012 at 3:47 am

    This nicely deals with the misconception that many people have about the term ‘practice’ It’s always upsetting how many people honestly seem to think ‘practice’ means to do the same thing over and over. My husband often quotes the phrase ‘crazy is a person doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result’ and I think that is exactly what you’re talking about here.

    I approach practice using the learning/study techniques my college teachers showed us. If I’m having problems drawing men (a frequency with me) I go back and study the real life anatomy and use measuring and proportioning techniques to sketch from photos and life and get a sense of how things work. Then I stop looking at those things and move to studying the way artists I admire draw. I can put those things together and draw my own way then taking a little from both sources.

    Practice is important, but it’s pretty different from what a lot of people think XD

  8. Bassam Ahmed on December 3, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    You are simply genius sir :)

  9. Julien Brightside on January 22, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Suddenly, I feel like I learned something new that I already knew from before.

  10. Miguel Bell on March 17, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    Great work, as usual. I’d like to add that “practice makes perfect” gives the wrong impression that there is such a thing as perfection. And maybe there is; if you only copy then you’ll be perfectly good at replicating the original. However, you’ll never be able to do something original yourself, if you keep that up. Either way perfection isn’t gold because it glitters. Practice shouldn’t make perfect–practice should make better. By the way Picasso is the boss! =D

  11. vox on March 20, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    This is great. It makes me think a lot. I’ve been so arrogant growing up as an artist, thinking I don’t want to look into other artists’ work too much, as I feel like I want a style of my own from within. Today, I am still not satisfied with my style, and lack education in so many areas. Now I hope to gain this from the commissions I manage to get! Anyway, thanks for reminding us that it’s okay to steal techniques from others.

  12. Jacques on May 15, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Do you have a spam problem on this site; I also am a blogger, and
    I was wanting to know your situation; we have
    developed some nice practices and we are looking to exchange techniques with others, be sure to
    shoot me an email if interested.

  13. on May 21, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    I need to to thank you for this wonderful read!
    ! I definitely loved every bit of it. I have got you
    saved as a favorite to look at new things you post…

    • stephen on June 3, 2013 at 4:32 pm

      Thank you!

  14. Linnie on May 30, 2013 at 3:51 am

    Excellent website you have here but I was curious about if you
    knew of any user discussion forums that cover the same
    topics talked about here? I’d really like to be a part of group where I can get advice from other knowledgeable people that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Cheers!

    • stephen on June 3, 2013 at 4:31 pm

      Hmm… I’m not sure– What I’ve done in my case is connect to peers through twitter or facebook– and after emailing and interacting with them– start talking on skype and building real relationships. They help me and I help them.

      Maybe you could try something like that!

  15. Kamie on October 16, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    This reminded me of something a professor in architecture said. “You have to know the rules before you can break them.”

  16. Mitzi P. Delima on October 18, 2013 at 5:17 am


    I’ve been starting to realise this at my current stage of studying art and it’s so mind blowing to know that people actually recommend it.THANK YOU.THANK YOU SO MUCH, I LOVE THIS SITE AND I AM CRYING BECAUSE it actually delves in to the reality of a work process.

    • stephen on October 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm

      You’re quite welcome! It’s true, I understand where you’re at!

  17. David on December 2, 2013 at 3:23 am

    My trumpet teacher said “Practice doesn’t make perfect, Perfect Practice makes Perfect.” Everything we do has fundamentals. Mastering the fundamentals through practicing without mistakes gives you the skill to ply your craft. Becoming an outstanding performer means your performance is noticeably higher than the average. You must master the fundamentals of your instrument through perfect practice to begin the journey to outstanding performance. I practice my fundamentals everyday so I can be prepared to perform at any time. No one wants to listen to music played with mistakes especially if you bought the ticket.

  18. Darren on December 5, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    I really like how this whole series applies to just about any other walk in life, besides artists. I’m a software developer, and by replacing a word here and there to match the medium, it totally applies to improving and perfecting my techniques and skills.

    Thanks for all the work you’ve done to put this together!

    • stephen on December 6, 2013 at 6:13 pm

      You’re quite welcome!

  19. doddy on January 25, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    nice article you make it clean and very straight explanation :)

  20. Michelle on February 4, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    Thanks for this. You have just helped me plan out what I need to say in my Statement of Practice. Discussing other artists and artworks seems to be much simpler than trying to explain my own processes. Now to lay out the bits and pieces before me…

  21. Ibrahim Vatih on February 27, 2014 at 4:46 am

    This is always happen in our life, just how about our attitude. Thanks for your post!

    • stephen on March 9, 2014 at 3:07 am

      You’re welcome!

  22. Nojuan Especial on April 15, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    It seems like practice has a different meaning to me than it does to everyone else. To me practice isn’t mindlessly doing the same thing over and over. At least not in minute detail.

    The “practice” part of improving in art refers to DRAW/PAINT/SCULPT/ETC every day, nobody in their right mind or of any discernable intelligence would think it meant to draw/paint/sculpt/etc the SAME THING every day.


    • stephen on April 19, 2014 at 12:06 am

      Yeah, perhaps it’s a blunt way to view the word practice.

  23. Nojuan Especial on April 15, 2014 at 1:36 pm


  24. Facetime On Windows on February 5, 2015 at 2:35 am

    Thus to counter any kind of financial urgency, click cash payday advances for everyone Facetime On Windows understanding boat loan lenders before choosing a boat.

  25. hill climb racing cheats iphone on March 4, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    This growth rate of around 74% during 2010-2013. Let me hill climb racing hack introduce three
    top mobile games are all kids and teenagers are great medium
    to establish a good way are obstacles on the available category and location. But this application also supports visual voicemails.
    You can enjoy the play way required to slice fruits
    which pop up through shuttered windows. Download 1, they offer more entertainment
    to their archives of cards, 3d graphics accelerationchips etc.

    The cutting is done by collecting gems and also dangerous spiky

  26. game of war fire age cheats ipad on March 4, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    Possibly game of war fire age cheats the most outstanding action game as Angry Birds Video Game Tester NowStep 1: Escape The Classifieds
    SectionYou are not burdened with the line for your gamer because there are bound to get them.

  27. csr racing hack yahoo on March 6, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    On the contrary, mobile phones and tablet users, at csr racing hack any time.

    The latest innovations in this context, but its share price has increased.

  28. bakery story cheats on March 6, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    In the present times, mobile software, mobile games are designed
    bakery story cheats to entertain ourselves which indeed help
    in the original version left off. Standing in the lap of players and easily
    establish interaction among friends easy. The ability to obtain the
    original version but it might ask you to suspend the game directly to
    the one of the code I3U1M8 to get out quickly.

  29. potencja on March 9, 2015 at 9:38 am

    Also, they have ruled the market due to their anatomical constructions of shoes that make the shoes anti-stress with special shock absorption system.
    It compares the design of vintage motorcycles to today’s models.
    Choose not only from the styles of the shoes but also make sure that they ate comfortable.

  30. http on March 9, 2015 at 10:20 am

    It is not better to select high-heeled shoe, if you are an obese.
    Style- Most of us looks at the design and style while
    buying any item. 1990′s – Bra became a highlight on women’s wardrobe.

  31. on March 15, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    Use an Emulator to test your reflect and timing for your satisfaction. Snake games
    marvel contest of champions cheats are a game on a
    mobile casino games. At the same time it becomes very difficult to implement, in a handy way.

  32. geometry dash cheats on March 25, 2015 at 4:27 pm

    Cell phones are made geometry dash hack only for Apple devices, whereas scrabble games increase
    the knowledge of the technology or softwares installed in the player’s body face, hair, and an alluring game design studios.
    Moreover, the idea is that when you advance. Like an Netflix, GP can connect to other players.

  33. buy steroids review on April 27, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    Some drugs that have been utilized for treating steroid withdrawal try to restore
    the hormonal system following its disruption by steroid abuse.

  34. buy steroids from canada on April 27, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    You can purchase it in almost any fitness center, vitamin retailer, college,
    college and even in church in America.

  35. buy injectable steroids mexico on April 28, 2015 at 12:50 am

    Size is the key, the much more steroids employed, the
    bigger and leaner you get.

  36. deshumidificateur on April 28, 2015 at 12:56 am

    Nous ne recommandons pas les purificateurs ioniseur
    usb car ce sont plus des gadgets que de veritables purificateurs d’air.

  37. Best Paleo Bread Recipe on April 28, 2015 at 1:28 am

    And be as truthful as you can with yourself about all of them!

  38. affiliate marketing programs without website on April 28, 2015 at 1:44 am

    The coopkie iss there in yyou computer system for when you will need

  39. design a shirt on April 28, 2015 at 4:51 am

    Hey There. I found your blog the use of msn. This is a really well written article.
    I will make sure to bookmark it and return to learn extra of your useful info.
    Thanks for the post. I will certainly comeback.

  40. Hi there to every body, it’s my first visit of this blog; this web site includes amazing
    and truly excellent data in favor of visitors.

  41. paleo recipes on April 28, 2015 at 8:39 am

    The diet regime will reset your metabolism , clean all of the chemical compounds and toxins from your body, and boost your digestion.

  42. Bennett on April 29, 2015 at 1:04 am

    This post iss invaluable. How can I find out more?

  43. ramadan on April 29, 2015 at 5:10 am

    Very roughly, one quarter are of Arab descent, one quarter
    are of South Asian descent (primarily Pakistani and Indian), one quarter are
    of African American descent and the balance come from other backgrounds, including Caucasian-American and Latino.

    He had succeeded in taking the pagan, tribal society of Arabia and changing it to a monotheistic land
    that denounced tribalism and nationalism and completely
    changed every aspect of the society and government. The
    Eyup Sultan Mosque in Istanbul is busy with activity the whole month.

  44. home loan offers on April 29, 2015 at 5:18 am

    Thank you for the good writeup. It in fact used to be a enjoyment account it.
    Look advanced to far delivered agreeable from you!
    However, how could we keep in touch?

  45. free rehab on April 29, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    Thanks for your personal marvelous posting!
    I actually enjoyed reading it, you can be a great author.I will ensure that I bookmark your blog and will often come
    back from now on. I want to encourage you to continue your great
    job, have a nice weekend!

  46. schlüsseldienst berlin friedrichshain on April 30, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    What also separates Stanley from the other three companies is funds paying.

    Programming the Pet Porte is again a very short and simple
    process, as there are no complex steps involved, indeed the
    whole installation is only a single step process.
    Getting the perfect set can prevent injury on the door and trigger locking issues.

  47. trading bot Coinbase on May 1, 2015 at 10:06 am

    Go to our Video web page to see the plan in action!

  48. online pharmacy legit on May 2, 2015 at 1:19 am

    It is actually a great and useful piece of information. I
    am satisfied that you shared this helpful information with us.
    Please keep us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.
    online pharmacy legit

  49. best online pharmacy international on May 2, 2015 at 4:34 am

    It’s amazing to visit this web page and reading the views of all mates
    concerning this post, while I am also keen of getting knowledge.

    best online pharmacy international

  50. selling t-shirts on ebay tips on May 2, 2015 at 9:39 am

    I added some merchandise to your plexos.

  51. Rodolfo on May 3, 2015 at 2:58 am

    He’s an old soul; no push-over; extremely courageous; not afraid to be
    going up against the very corrupt powers that be.
    The package that is incorporated in the Magniwork merchandise contains an e-book that gives
    data on electrical energy, record of the machine and other backgrounds.
    Also make sure it is a cooler area, as HHO units run better when they are kept cool, you don’t want
    them to boil as they just generate steam into engine.

  52. online pharmacy prescription free on May 3, 2015 at 3:45 am

    It’s truly a nice and useful piece of info. I am glad that you
    shared this useful info with us. Please stay us up to date like this.

    Thanks for sharing. online pharmacy prescription free

  53. ,hoodie jackets on May 3, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    Right here is the perfect web site for anyone who would like to understand
    this topic. You realize so much its almost hard to argue with
    you (not that I really will need to…HaHa). You definitely put a fresh spin on a subject that’s been discussed for decades.
    Great stuff, just wonderful!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *