Know You Don’t Know

September 24, 2012

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46 Responses to Know You Don’t Know

  1. Ian on September 24, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Glad to see this blog flowing with wonderful and inspiring work. :)

    • stephen on September 24, 2012 at 6:38 pm

      Ian! Glad you stopped by, buddy! Thanks! I appreciate it!

  2. Mike Laughead on September 24, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    This is so true and awesome. Love it!

    • stephen on September 24, 2012 at 6:38 pm

      Thanks Mike!

  3. Nathan Rackley on September 24, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    You are, of course, correct.

    In order to improve, first we must recognize that we are not perfect. Of course the fact of the matter is that none of us are perfect. There are ALWAYS areas in which we can improve.

    I like to live under the mantra that the more I learn the more I realize I still have to learn. My only fear is that I won’t be able to learn it all in this lifetime.

    We can all continue improving. This concept can be applied to any aspect of our lives. It’s not to say that we’re “bad” or “wrong”, simply that there is some way in which we could do better.

    A key in this recognition that we need to improve is to not be too hard on ourselves. I’ve noticed that we all tend to be our own worst judges. Just the other day I went over to a friend’s home. His hobby is building miniature buildings and cities (like the ones in model train sets). Before me sat an unpainted, but immaculately constructed miniature model of a greenhouse. I complimented him on this, and he immediately started pointing out his flaws, stating he was unhappy with the work. At this point I told him to stop nitpicking at his creation. Although he could see areas of improvement, it was far beyond what I might be able to create.

    Each and every one of us should strive to do better without tearing ourselves down in the process. It’s difficult, yes, but not impossible.

    Great post as always, Stephen!


    • stephen on September 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm

      Well said, Nate! I’m going to be working on a don’t-be-hard-on-yourself essay soon.

  4. Alyssa on September 25, 2012 at 2:32 am

    I think this one is my favorite so far!

    • stephen on September 25, 2012 at 3:20 pm

      Thanks Alyssa!

  5. Kait on September 25, 2012 at 5:57 am

    Love this. And I’m so glad the women are making their way into this comic.

    • stephen on September 25, 2012 at 3:19 pm

      From now on, I’ll dry myself as a lady.

      • Kait on September 26, 2012 at 5:10 am

        Haha, dry? I’m confused…

        • stephen on September 26, 2012 at 6:14 pm

          Not dry.
          My finger slipped.

  6. Phamiel on September 25, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    I do love your comic strips. I was an artist until life got me down to the bottom of the rocks. I have forgotten how to wonder at the world and this comic strip has reminded me of my innocence and how much I miss it.

    • stephen on September 25, 2012 at 3:18 pm

      I’m glad! I’m sorry to hear about the hard times in your life. Keep in touch!

  7. C on September 25, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    I know what you mean when once you achieve humility you feel proud and have to start again! The annoying thing is when I want to change how I think about things I forget what i’m doing all too soon… but this comic helps motivate me to keep trying!

    • stephen on September 26, 2012 at 6:47 pm

      Thanks for sharing, C.

      I think the key is making the right thing your identity. I know not everyone would agree with me, but as a Christian I think the best place for our identities is God. Family makes a better resting place for our identity than our art does, but even family can disappoint– and what a horrible responsibility to put on your love ones– to make them the source of your self worth. But when I find the faith to believe the bible’s description of God, that he is unchangeable, eternal, and he loves me so much he died to save me– I see the perfect resting place for my identity and sense of self worth. If the creator of the universe says I am loved, who can take that away from me?

      Thanks for your comment! I’d love to hear you thoughts on this.

      • Leigh Owens on November 14, 2013 at 7:32 pm

        See, I appreciate this response because when I hear ‘humility’, I think of what CS Lewis said about the subject.

        Namely, that humility is knowing our place in comparison to God. So it isn’t so much prideful for me to say, I AM A DAUGHTER OF *THE* GOD! WOO!* so long as I remember that means that while yes, that makes me have a bit of divinity, it also means I am a child. All my mortal life I am a child. That means I am never a master, always a student, that I’m never truly independent, that I can’t say, “No thanks, God. I don’t need your help.” Honestly, I find understanding my place far better than pride, because pride can be a lie, and my place can be shaken – but knowing where I stand for real, compared to God? There’s no shaking that.

        Also how sad would it be if I was at the top and I couldn’t learn anymore?

        *I know even some Christian religions don’t believe we’re actual children of God. Mine does, so thus explains my exclamation.

        ^^; Ehehe…sorry to butt in on the conversation but I didn’t want to make a separate comment if you’d…already discussed this sort of thing already.

        • stephen on November 15, 2013 at 4:09 pm

          Good point Leigh– humility is not saying you’re horrible, it’s understanding your place in the face of divinity.

  8. Friday Faves - [IMG] Insert Image on September 28, 2012 at 4:12 am

    [...] Know You Don’t Know [...]

  9. Andrew McPherson on September 29, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    But what if you are pursuing knowledge in something that isn’t as artsy, like in engineering and programming, where it really *is* possible to “know everything” about your craft? Do the dragons only exist in arts?

    • Lucy on October 1, 2012 at 6:47 am

      Which engineer ever said it was possible to know everything about engineering? Or programming? Both of those fields are about building things, and neither of them have been ‘finished’ yet; even if you combine the acquired knowledge of every engineer and programmer who has ever lived. The dragons exist in every walk of life, and that’s why people look for them every day. In my opinion, there are at least as many dragons in science as in art.

    • stephen on October 2, 2012 at 3:28 pm

      Great question Andrew! I suppose I would just question some of your pre-suppositions:

      How do you know what you don’t know? And if you don’t know that, how can you claim to know everything?

      Is there really no creativity involved in engineering and programming? They seem like vastly creative fields to me. And if creativity is involved, isn’t there naturally room for growth and learning?

      I would make an analogy between a programming language and a brush– I may know every detail of the brush, but that doesn’t mean I know everything about painting. I may know everything about the grammar and syntax of a language, but that doesn’t mean I know what to say.

      But then again, what do I know. Ha ha.

      I’d be curious to hear your thoughts! Thanks for commenting!

  10. Greg Candalez on October 10, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    The part of “For he lives in a world without dragons” made me literally shout in excitement. It was a simply brilliant metaphor.

    • stephen on October 11, 2012 at 2:51 pm

      Thanks Greg!

  11. jayzhell on October 15, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    That was very nice, ah, I want to see some dragons.

  12. CC on October 27, 2012 at 2:42 am

    These are just wonderful, I really needed to hear a lot of the thing said in your comics. Great reminders while being uplifting!

  13. Traci on October 28, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    My two favorite parts: Trees EAT sunlight! And: Humble artists are free to learn from anyone.

  14. Nabilah on October 30, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    Thank you for creating these arts. The beauty of it is not only that is it pleasing to look at but it helps budding designers and art students like us.

    To create an art like you do : an art that helps people, is a dream we all are trying to reach.

    Thank you for creating..
    Long live the dragons!

    • stephen on October 31, 2012 at 2:45 pm

      I should make a t-shirt out of that slogan… long live the dragons!

      • Nabilah on November 1, 2012 at 4:45 am

        Do tell us if you do! :D

        • Falkel on February 19, 2015 at 2:13 am


          • Dude234 on February 19, 2015 at 2:14 am

            Yeah, that’d be kewl.

          • Dude234 on February 19, 2015 at 2:15 am

            Cool, sorry. I like to do that. It annoys people.

  15. Jacob Tuttle on December 24, 2012 at 2:54 am

    I like the way u look at things i love art used to draw lots but not as much now i wish to improve evarywher but i need some motivation and inspiration again. ^^

  16. Samantha Morrison on December 30, 2012 at 3:48 am

    Your thoughts, words, and comics really help me. I think whenever I am feeling down, when I fail, when I am beating myself up unnecessarily or when I give in to insecurities and anxiety, I will visit this website and read everything you have posted. You are inspiring so many people, and you inspire me to not only be a better, more efficient, humble, confident artist, but to be more of a whole person. When bad things happen to me, or to people close to me, I cease to see the world and its wonder, and begin to see my creative self trapped by a whole encompassing fear, which stunts my growth as a human being, but somehow within the magic simplicity found in these comics I feel that can slowly heal and become free again. The most important things I have learned from your comics is the need for wonder, acceptance, and patience; they have never resonated this loudly, and deeply, for which I am eternally grateful. I will carry these lessons on my journey with every field I explore, from medicine, to art, to education reform. Thank you for your contributions, and for teaching us like we have never been taught before. Thanks for existing, and continue being awesome! Sincerely- SJM

    • stephen on December 30, 2012 at 3:06 pm

      Thanks Samantha! I really appreciate that– it’s an honor to know my comics are making a difference for people.

  17. Matt S on March 3, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    Loved the second to last page. My ten year old niece recently taught me how to do some basic graffiti art. It was a simple technique, but nothing i had ever learned before. It doesn’t matter who you learn from, as long as you try to learn a little something from everyone.

    • stephen on March 4, 2013 at 5:12 pm

      That’s awesome! Thanks for sharing, Matt!

  18. Airyu on February 28, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    What is the difference between humility and self-depreciation, though? I constantly think I will never ever be able to succeed, and people tell me this isn’t humility, but is self-depreciation. I think that everyone else is better than me. I really do think I am small and insignificant, and that I can never hope to be remotely decent at what I do, and I always take all my negative feedback to heart. What am I missing?

    • Dado on March 3, 2014 at 5:30 pm


      Integrity is to know who you truly are – to be truthful to yourself and others. You may in fact be small and insignificant in your own estimation, but is that where you want to stay? You can break out of this thinking by gaining the wonder of the greatness of the universe and by understanding your importance in it. Trust your friends to help you.

    • stephen on March 9, 2014 at 3:55 am

      I guess that is a really hard concept, isn’t it?

      I thought about this, and I don’t think I can explain humility without talking about God. I would say that humility is understanding your place in light of God. In the comic above, instead of talking about God I talked about the bigness of the universe– but when you think about it, the universe is very big and cold and doesn’t much care for us.

      I don’t know if you believe in God or not, but when I think of myself in the face of God, I see how small I am, and yet I know he loves me. This allows me to be small and yet not be crushed by my smallness. You are small because God is big. But you are big because God sees you and loves you and cares about you, small though you are. There’s something about this loves that makes it okay to be small. It gives even the most broken people dignity because God loves them and knows everything about them.

      I hope that helps! I struggle with arrogance, but it sounds like you have no problems taking a humble view of yourself. I just hope you know that you’re worth something and you don’t have to hate the things you make because it’s okay to be small and not do everything perfect.

  19. Zachary McKay on March 11, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    Very wonderful way to look at the world

  20. Dy on October 10, 2014 at 11:43 am

    This is a lovely and I would say, a kind art.
    The thoughtful message resonates in me and gets me reflect on my attitude towards my commitments in stuff that I do.
    Job beautifully well done, keep it up!

    • stephen on December 3, 2014 at 1:35 am

      Will do!

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