My shelves are FULL of used sketchbooks, none of them match, they’re filled with torn off bits of paper and covered in ink, pencil and charcoal.
Those sketch books are chock full of failed ideas and I absolutely love them. Failure is a huge part of the art/ design process, you can’t improve your skills without learning what not to do.
A common mistake beginners (and stubborn veterans) make is to dive right in without considering layout or hierarchy (there is nothing wrong with this, experimenting in art is important), only to be disappointed when their hard work seems to be off centre or their perspective is wrong. Well, there’s a simple solution to this:
No, not the ones on your hands. Thumbnails are rough sketches used to jot down ideas, they’re experimental in nature. Should the palm tree be on the left or right? Do I want the palm leaves to frame the image? Where does this path lead exactly? A series of thumbnails can help you work out what the basic layout of your piece could be, so you can find what looks most appealing BEFORE starting the final piece.
The most talented artist could turn a masterpiece into a dud with bad composition. Here’s a great resource to help you hone your layout and composition skills.
Allow failure to be a part of your process, I find that my greatest improvement in skill comes after solving a particularly difficult problem. And by solving I mean failing until something works.