Happiness Project Reflection 6: Practice Makes Perfect?


Hello friends!  I hope you’re doing well.

By the time this blog post comes out, I will have told everyone I know that I’m quitting my day job at the end of July!!!  It’s super scary and exciting.  I’m taking a break from having a regular job so I can devote more time and energy into pushing my art/illustration career forward for a while.  I will write more about my exciting life change later in another blog post! Stay tuned!  It’s a HUGE change, believe me!

Now back to our regular programming 🙂

Today I’m reflecting on the concept of “practice makes perfect.”  I mentioned on my Why I Want to Write Regularly post that I set a goal to write regularly because I’ve never felt writing was my thing.  It takes me a long time to put my thoughts on a paper in a coherent and compelling way.  In order for me to feel comfortable putting something in the world, I need to be able to formulate my thoughts, analyze it  and organize it.  Over and over.

One of the many benefits of doing the 365 Day Happiness Project was I forced myself to draw something every day.  Before that, I drew occasionally.  I would draw when I had specific projects to work on and then get busy with other things in my life.   I knew that wasn’t a good practice if I wanted to be a working artist/illustrator.  How would I know if I like having a career in art if I didn’t know what it’s like to draw every day all the time?

I also mentioned in my Your Imperfections are OK post that you may never feel your work is “100% perfect” no matter how much you practice.  You will get better, though, and you will find your voice or your “style” through consistent practice.  In fact, it may be the only way to get better and develop your own style.

In the beginning of my 365 Day Happiness Project, I would sketch in pencil first and then trace it with pen because I was afraid to make a mistake.  I was also trying different styles of hand-lettering and writing too.   I would create the lettering separately, scan in both the drawing and lettering, digitally color them in, and make one picture to post.  Sometimes I would use a drawing pad to write my words.

I made these drawings using this method:



I quickly became tired of how very time-consuming it was, and so I began experimenting with just drawing with pen without first sketching with pencil.  It was scary at first.  My drawings were already kinda wonky, so it didn’t make a big difference in the quality.  But I grew to like how relaxed and organic everything looked.  Not to mention time-saving!  Well, except for when I couldn’t get something right and had to draw over and over… :p

These are examples of pen drawings from the early days:


I use Pigma Micron pens in case you’re wondering.

You might notice that I was much more experimental with my hand lettering in my early days.  I wanted fancy hand-lettering to be my “thing.”  I took a hand-lettering e-course by Seanwes and drooled over many fancy hand-lettered pieces on the internet.  Although I still love beautiful hand-lettered pieces and try a few different styles now and then, I settled on these very casual hand-writing/lettering styles.  I think it works well with my overall style.

tortilla-chips_web lilacs_web


I still just draw with a pen or a paint brush for many of my works.  I love that that’s my style.  It’s not “perfect” but it is “me”.  Simple, relaxed, and friendly.  Just the way I want you to feel when you see my art!

I’m going to say this again.  Don’t worry about becoming “perfect“: It is a dangerous trap for many of us.  What you want to see is improvement in your work over a period of time.  It’s easier to see your improvements if you compare your work from a year ago vs. a week ago (unless you put in many many hours of practice in one week!)  Are you happier with what you made?  Are you consistently producing high (or higher) quality work?  Are you putting in your best effort into your work?  What about your work says it’s yours?

Close out of your Instagram or Pinterest feeds now, and get making your own thing 🙂

You can do it!

xoxo  Yuko




10 thoughts on “Happiness Project Reflection 6: Practice Makes Perfect?

  1. Just read you’re becoming a full time artist! Congratulations on making your dream come true! Have been reading ‘the artists way’ and learning about my many reasons for not following my heart and trying to achieve my dream. So good to see others doing just that…I know it is possible! Will be fun to watch as you follow yours!

    1. thank you!!! I feel like things lined up just right for me, and I had to take the chance. thank you for following me along!!! I’d love to help people who want to follow their passion too, so please email me or comment and let me know if you have any questions or what your challenges are 🙂

  2. I’ve been contemplating leaving my job as well. But because I have a house and a child to care for, it is not possible for me to make that leap. Also about perfection, I was born as a perfectionist, and had to learn to let things go because it was very destructive for my productivity. Good Luck on your venture, your drawings are super cute.

    1. Thank you for your comment Kim! Not having a steady income is super hard when you have responsibilities. I hope you can shift things around gradually over time to have more time for your passion some day! Letting go of perfectionism is so hard. It takes practice and making a choice to think differently. You can do it!

  3. Yuko, I’m so happy for your! I quit my full-time job in late 2012, and it was certainly an adventure. It still is! I wish you the best on your journey 🙂

    And thank you so much for this post. I have to say, while your more time-consuming drawings are nice, I prefer the ones that are “less perfect.” I think it’s easy for others to tell when we are overworking things and when we are having fun as artists with our work. The later illustrations have a fluidity and fun quality to them. And I love your lettering! So excited to see what you come up with in the future and in your new post-full-time endeavors. Go Yuko!

    1. Thank you so much Michelle!! I have not regretted my decision to leave my day job even once after I gave my notice a few weeks ago. it is the right decision for me. I’m happy to hear you left your full-time job in 2012 and you’re still on an adventure 🙂 it is encouraging to know that it is possible, that people have been doing this a long time. Thank you for your support xoxoxo

      1. It is totally possible! Good luck on your journey and I look forward to reading more about it! And I’m happy to support. Us artists meed to stick together 🙂

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