Taste is Your Teacher

October 1, 2012

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45 Responses to Taste is Your Teacher

  1. Kevin C on October 2, 2012 at 12:35 am

    Nicely done! I really enjoy this series of yours.

    • stephen on October 2, 2012 at 2:59 pm

      Thanks Kevin!

  2. Jerry Huynh on October 2, 2012 at 12:41 am

    you. are. endlessly. awesome.

    • stephen on October 2, 2012 at 3:00 pm


  3. Robin White on October 2, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Another great one. I wonder if there’s a similar parallel between learning a SECOND language and becoming an artist. Like, if you try to learn a second language as an adult (or even an older child) your native language kind of gets in the way. You’re so used to the specific sounds of your own language that it’s hard to change your way of thinking to learn the new language. I think as artists a similar dangers exists of getting into an artistic rut. Instead of trying new things, we use the same tried and true techniques that always work for us; so we stop growing and improving. Hmm…

    • stephen on October 2, 2012 at 3:01 pm

      Great observations Robin– most of my insights into learning have come from trying to learn a second language– I definitely think there’s a parallel!

    • Malik on October 3, 2012 at 1:47 am

      Love this insight too.

  4. Kait on October 2, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    I love the plunging musician. And the hand holding the compass is really nicely done. All those years of pounding comics from the library were really worthwhile studying, huh? Just developing your compass… :o)

  5. Kev Brett on October 2, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    These are awesome. Looking forward to seeing them all as a collection!!! Keep ‘em coming

    • stephen on October 3, 2012 at 3:56 pm

      Will do!

  6. Malik on October 3, 2012 at 12:47 am

    Awe. Some.
    Thanks for this perspective.

    • stephen on October 3, 2012 at 3:56 pm

      No prob!

  7. Kacey on October 10, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Wow, this series actually made me tear up a bit… It’s exactly what I needed to know right now. You’ve done a fantastic job of conveying the importance of persistence and self forgiveness. This should be required reading material for every art student.

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

      Wow, thanks Kacey– it’s cool to know there are other creatives out there who feel like I do about these things.

    • Kamie on October 16, 2013 at 11:24 pm

      I completely agree! “required reading material”

      • prabha on November 26, 2013 at 5:28 pm

        Love your work! Truly Inspiring!

  8. Christina C. on October 10, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    I just found out about this series from tumblr and I am so glad I did. It has told me a lot of things I needed to hear. I have been pretty discouraged lately in starting illustration projects because the inner critic in my head is telling me I suck. Glad to read a comic that tell me how to deal with it. Thanks for making such fantastic comics!

    • stephen on October 11, 2012 at 2:50 pm

      You’re welcome! Thanks for coming over from tumblr!

  9. Ayuning on October 11, 2012 at 7:17 am

    I love your series. It teaches me lots of important lesson. Thank you :)

    • stephen on October 11, 2012 at 2:40 pm

      Awesome! You’re welcome!

  10. Miguel on October 24, 2012 at 4:12 am

    Truly, I think you were meant for this. I’ve read your comics over and over, and no matter how many times I read them they still inspire me. You’re doing a great think, Stephen, and I hope you’ll continue indefinitely.

    That’s my sincerest wish. =)

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

      I’ll keep going for as long as I can! Thank you!

  11. Magdalena on December 21, 2012 at 11:03 am

    This is so great. Beautifully made with intellectual insight. I don’t know who said it first and it applies to all form of arts but taste is very important. “You can’t write better then you read”

  12. Jacob Tuttle on December 24, 2012 at 2:59 am

    i understand this one i like art and writing but i cnt find away to get it out

  13. Jacob Tuttle on December 24, 2012 at 3:00 am

    i understand ths one complety

  14. [...] Alley, which deals with sustainable creativity and there are a few pages I want to focus on: “Taste is your teacher“, ”Be friends with failure” and “Practice does not make perfect“. [...]

  15. Julien Brightside on January 22, 2013 at 11:25 am

    These comics are so inspirational that I think I have to share them with others.

  16. [...] Uncanny Adventures in Comic Costume Creation for her incredible costume designs. 7. Stephen  of Doodle Alley for his wonderful artwork and simple color palette. 8. Caitlin of The Siren’s Tale for her [...]

  17. [...] Uncanny Adventures in Comic Costume Creation for her incredible costume designs. 7. Stephen  of Doodle Alley for his wonderful artwork and simple color palette. 8. Caitlin of The Siren’s Tale for her [...]

  18. Mindy on March 1, 2013 at 5:03 am

    I just nominated you for a Liebster Award – Check it out!


    • stephen on March 1, 2013 at 7:38 pm

      Thank you!

  19. Comanche Stoolsen on March 1, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    You are good. Like, so good! At being boring #suckit

    • stephen on March 1, 2013 at 7:35 pm

      Thanks for reading it even though you find it boring! I hope you have a good day.

  20. Daniele on May 19, 2013 at 11:30 am

    how beautiful is the process, and how hard is to explain it to who doesn’t follow a creative way. seen from the outside, it can seems just entertainment, but it’s studying. and you described it perfectly.

  21. | Monkey Minion Press on July 6, 2013 at 2:44 am

    [...] https://doodlealley.com/2012/10/01/taste-is-your-teacher/ 0 Comments – Leave a comment! « Previous PostNext Post » [...]

  22. Dani M. on December 2, 2013 at 1:10 am

    This is a great article. So I’m wondering, if I want to create indie games or basic video games, does that mean my immersion is to play more games?

    • stephen on March 29, 2014 at 6:18 pm

      Yep! Just watch out that playing games doesn’t take too much time from creating them! :)

  23. Jason on December 13, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    I just came across your work today and I must say it’s incredibly inspiring. It also provides great insight into the artistic process. I can show someone your work and say, “Here, this is what it’s like!”


    • stephen on March 29, 2014 at 6:18 pm

      You’re welcome!

  24. mmmbftujn on March 18, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    answer the question

  25. Kesja on September 9, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Not only greatly explained, but also very motivational. Thank you. I liked the connections that you made for the other professions.

    • stephen on September 12, 2014 at 9:26 pm

      My pleasure~!

  26. […] I love this teaching. You can find the author/artist’s website here. […]

  27. Cari on December 11, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    Babies probably have it easier because they get to start practicing closer to the point at which their immersion started. I guess this explains why it’s hard for old dogs to learn new tricks.

    A baby’s tastes haven’t developed past their practice since they’ve spent (in our perspective, at any rate,) roughly the same amount of time experiencing and practicing.

    If you were immersed in something long before you start practicing it yourself, your tastes can get so far enough ahead of your skill that you end up perceiving yourself as simply unskilled. It’s also a convenient excuse to use as a way out if you find the disparity too big, making the task daunting to tackle. “Oh, I’m just a shitty [insert tradesman here].” But what if it’s just that you’ve been exposed to a lot of quality work and as a result set the bar too high for yourself?

    There’s a learning curve to anything, and the difficulty of it, if you ask me, is measured by the amount of disparity between the exposure/immersion curve and that of the practice/experience curve. It’s always harder to get better at something when you see that big gap because you’re ultimately comparing yourself to what you’ve seen. If you’re still at step 0, but have seen others at step 10,000 you’ll say “no way, that’s too hard– I’ll never be good.)

    I think this post of yours goes hand-in-hand with the Be Friends With Failure one.

    Anyway, if any of you guys are like me and find it hard to keep this in mind and overcome that measurement of difficulty, then maybe try practicing something new when you’re still getting your early exposure to it. Did you discover some kind of art that you think is really cool and you MIGHT want to try some day? Good! Go ahead and give it a shot right away, keep practicing as you get exposure to it, and try to keep up. As you discover new things through these peripheral pursuits (tools, techniques, concepts, etc.), you can find ways to incorporate it into your own work. It can help in the grand scheme of things.

    Plus, for anyone that worries about being perceived as a monkey-see-monkey-do hack, think of this: since everyone has their own tastes, they’ll incorporate their own blend of things they like, and end up making their own unique recipe that has a distinct flavor of their own. That flavor may be reminiscent of others like it (such as being told “your work reminds me of the work of so-and-so’s!”), but it of course will be unique. It’s the same as if you said that Chow Mein reminded you of Pad See Ew. There’s subtle differences in the ingredients, preparation, and where they come from. Similar, but still unique.

    The body of work done by all of humanity is one giant creative buffet– pick out what you like, and hey, some time later you might even get an idea to combine two things into something completely new that nobody else thought of– and in turn contribute something entirely new to the buffet. Others can then follow in your footsteps. Maybe someone first thought of a wheel. Someone later thought of grippy treaded shoe soles. Someone later yet could have thought to combine the two and end up with tank treads. Who knows!

    Also, some people might not want to try too many new things because it’s seen as being flighty if you don’t commit to it and lose interest after a while. For instance, not too long ago I found a neat art form called Popotillo, so I started practicing it right away. I eventually lost interest in it, but these things are no-strings-attached. Don’t feel obligated to follow through in mastering everything you try, it’s useful as a change of pace and helps broaden your experiences and can even improve your primary skill. It’s supplemental! You can be a jack of most trades and master of a good few.

  28. megatube on November 24, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    This two-minute film explains how to carry out the Taste investigation with your class, step by step.

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