An old adage claims we have 100,000 bad drawings in us that we must get out before we can get to the good ones. Today we take a deeper look at that quote.
Sometimes it’s said to be 10,000 instead, but I’m reasonably certain in my lifetime that smaller marker has come and gone and I’m still anxiously waiting for the “good ones” to begin. The quote is attributed to Walt Stanchfield in some instances, Chuck Jones in others, and other artists at other times. Whoever the first person to utter it was, they were on to a great nugget of wisdom in art: You must put in the work if you want to improve.
But how much work? 10,000 drawings? 100,000? More?
The truth is there are no set amounts of drawings or animations to be done, and no set time frame before you finally “make it.” For some it may seem to happen in the blink of an eye. For others- most others- it will seem to take a lifetime of struggle. Take hold of the root of this quote, though. It will arrive sooner if you put in the work. If you get out the “bad drawings.” This quote is not about the number at its core, it is about the effort needed to become a master.
This past week I decided to get those drawings out in earnest, and began keeping track via Twitter of how many were left to go. Typing “12 down, 999,988 left to go” is both inspiring and overwhelming, but it helps me to remember I’m on a journey and taking sincere steps to get where I want to go. (Then someone pointed out my math was wrong, and it was only 99,988 left and I felt even better!) If I manage to tick the counter down to zero or not isn’t the important thing: What’s important is putting in the time and energy and being conscious of it. Why not give it a try? The only thing you have to lose are the bad drawings inside you! The sooner you make a sincere effort to get them out, the quicker you’ll reach greatness in your art.