Practice Does Not Make Perfect

November 21, 2012
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This essay is easier to understand if you’ve read these previous ones on immersion and on failure.

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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. alasbarricadas.org 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

    OH MY GOD. THIS.

    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.

    Duh.

    • 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

    discernible*

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