Why The ‘Spartan’ Approach To Art Doesn’t Actually Work

Introduction

When the online art community started to grow and discuss practice methods early in the hay day of the internet, a lot of them even now still champion this frankly Spartan like approach method of practicing art, mainly concept art or illustration, i.e the commercial arts.

What is this method/approach? Much like Spartans where all they ever knew or do mostly is warfare or fight. This method, entails you do nothing but art as much as possible in such a Spartan way, that you isolate yourself, away from family, friends, social time, luxury time, you dedicate all your energy, all your time, everything to art, singularly and in totality.

Drawing nonstop, for hours, for days for a long period of time. Forgoing much sleep, meals, family time, friend time, etc. Just to get better at art.

I have seen people writing that the book The War Of Art, which I have not read suggests this method, it may or may not regardless it’s more of an approach than a method, a thinking mindset applied to art, intended to help you get better at an exponential rate to let you be better faster essentially.

There are schools that believe in this approach and anyone who has been to their courses has told everyone that you have to get ready to eschew any time with anyone else and spend that one year intensive course entirely in art making.

Problems

So, what are the problems about this approach, why doesn’t it actually work in the long term?

I have always been of the mind of moderation when it comes to practicing to improve your art, you cannot say that “Oh I am just having much needed personal me time” and don’t practice at all.

On the other hand, you also shouldn’t go full ham and practice for so long and have no sleep and no personal time that you burn out and get sick of it.

The obvious problem is burnout, you get so burnout from wanting to create like a factory, to quickly practice and improve as fast as you can.

Artists were not meant to be content creating factories 18 hours, 7 days a week, despite what social media algorithms want, not only that but with no down time or personal time or companionship time as well. Concept artists and story-boarders are supposed to create a lot of art to show to art directors and production crew but they too also know:

  1. The process of how to do so and have mastered it.
  2. Have rest days.
  3. Get paid for doing so.

We are looking at the Spartan approach as an approach to practicing art to improve in it not work and gain money in it.

The results do show improvement, its not as if they do not, if you put in that many hours that many days, of course a great gap of improvement can show (or even sadly just a small gap if you don’t deliberately practice), but at what cost.

  1. Possible wrist injury from overwork.
  2. Creative burnout.
  3. The results possibly are/can be not equivalent to the effort and time you put in.
  4. Anxiety consuming mindset (oh I should be drawing right now, what am I doing), etc.

Like I mentioned above there are schools notoriously known for this approach and they also have this lasting implication of “if you can’t survive the one year course of this approach then don’t bother trying to have a career in concept art cause it only gets worse” (specifically the schools are aimed at concept art careers/training).

The threat of career lost, demoralization of this is how it is and always will be and gatekeeping are not how educational courses should be run and you should not allow that threat to affect you or be in the position for that threat to bother you.

Conclusions

Ultimately, personally, I do not agree that this technique or practice or approach or mindset is the best in the long run.

Its very tempting to see the improvement achieved by people of this approach/method and throw yourself into it as well, into the courses of those schools, but I will suggest thinking twice before you fully commit to it if ever for the reasons stated above.

Its not a very self-appreciative method and you might be better off with a more forgiving schedule than a Spartan-esque one of a over disciplinary approach and mindset.

Here are some other articles I have written about art, please take a look!

If you liked what you read, please consider supporting me on Patreon (monthly) or ko-fi (one time donations).

Stay safe~!
JR

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