J.K. Riki

Artistic Arrogance

When I was a younger artist, I was arrogant. I’m sure I haven’t completely rid myself of this terrible habit, but I remember many instances when I scoffed at the advice of more experienced artists, thinking I knew better. Or, at the very least, thinking MY journey in art was different, so I didn’t need their advice.

I was super wrong.

I live life without regrets. I do my best to learn from mistakes and experiences, but regretting them seems pointless to me, because not only can I not change the past, I wouldn’t change it if I could because it has delivered me to this point and the person I am today. However when I look at how much farther in my art I could be if I had only listened, those regretful feelings do tend to poke at me.

I share this only to pass along a bit of wisdom that comes with age: Listen to those who came before you.

I’m not going to tell you to take any and all advice you come across, but back then I didn’t even listen. I had my fingers in my ears. I didn’t stop to really consider if they might be right, and as a result I sit decades later with a lot less progress than if I had paid more attention.

What’s fascinating is that now that I have a bit more training and offer help to less experienced artists, I come across so many younger versions of myself. Artists so sure they know it all that they brush off any comment that isn’t “You’re so great!” Being encouraged is terrific. It needs balanced with humility.

Listen. Absorb. Try what someone with more experience suggests.

The worst that can happen is you discover for certain that their method isn’t a good fit for you. More likely, you will discover some wisdom in their advice that will rocket you forward towards your goals. Either way, to write it off outright, as I once did, is an act so full of pride and ego that it should be a huge red flag that something is in desperate need of a readjustment.

There’s so much wisdom already out there that we can learn from without making the same mistakes as others. All we have to do is be open to it.


  1. Pingback: Listening to Yourself – J.K. Riki

  2. Adam

    I’m reminded of an insight from Douglas Adams: “Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.”

    It can take courage as well as humility to consider the advice of someone more experienced. It often means leaving a comfort zone in order to relearn something. I suppose some artists (and human beings, generally) find self-confidence, however blind, easier than trying something new.


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