lichtenstein sucked at first.

(Just another observation from The Broad last week…)

They have a great collection of Lichtensteins and I spent more time with them than anything else. I was amazed at how much his work developed over the early part of his career. His style was pretty much fully set by ’62 and, from across the room, those early paintings look very similar to later ones. For example –

But up close, it’s a different story.

In “Live Ammo (Blang)” from 1962, the quality of the brushwork is very poor. The Benday dots are messy and smeared, the black lines are awkwardly placed and shaped… the line edges are rough… there’s pencil lines that never got filled in. However, 3 1/2 years later, the style is almost identical, but the quality is at a whole other level. They still have a handmade feel, but the details are crisp and confident. Here’s some closeups I took (click for full-size) –

I don’t know, I just thought it was really inspiring to see how someone at such a high level was able to develop their craft over time. I had a few takeaways for anyone interested in doing or learning or creating anything:

  1. In the end, you’ll be judged by your best work, not your worst.
  2. You don’t have to be perfect before you start putting your work out there. If Roy had waited for perfection before showing his work, he probably would have gone broke and never even had the chance to sustain his practice or reach a higher level of polish.
  3. It doesn’t matter where you start because you will only get better. So, start where you are, suck, and take comfort in the fact that you can only improve from here (and be sure to save those early attempts because even they might be worth $12 million someday…).
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