If you came into my home on any given morning, you would see a floundering woman, in her PJ’s, trying to decide what to do next and when, yelling at the cat to get off the bench while I try to get a hungry toddler breakfast! And on fewer than I care to admit days, a powerful, focused woman ready to take on the world (more on bottling that energy another time) Oh how I wish we were powerful and focused every single day!
There are so many things that hold us back and as humans, and specifically as artists. I hope you find some consolation and comfort in reading about my fears below and I hope that you find some of my Ideas for Change useful to you.
1. Fear to be seen as who we really are
As Artists and humans for that matter, we are afraid to show who we really are. We compare ourselves to others on social media and this is just not a good place to start comparing oneself (however terribly hard this is, we all know it’s not healthy)
If you really look into the profiles and websites of many artists, you are basically going to see the same thing over and over - a gallery of work, a profile about the artist and possibly a CV. We are not being real humans, we are showing everyone what we ‘think’ they want to see. Hey, I am guilty of this, but I am slowly working on this now and I will become a lot more real very soon, I promise you!
Your customers want to get to know you - they want to connect with you as a human - to have this special person’s art in their home. So, create your own unique story and tell the world about you. You will then be sure to stand out from the rest and have a greater chance of making an impact.
Ideas for change:
Think about what makes you unique - and how is your art different from other art? Write down just 3 unique qualities and start to focus on them.
Think about your unique personality. Are you aggressive, shy, happy go lucky or moody? Be real, tell this in your story and relate it back to how you paint.
What is your life story? Tell it and try to relate it to your art
What are your other interests? How do they relate to your art?
2. Perfection is a must!
Well, no it’s not! If you are anything like me, you will look at every tiny little part of that painting, nit pick it and criticise it. It’s just not fair. Pretend that your painting has been created by your favourite artist….what would you think of it then? It’s genius isn’t it? Yip!
“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” - Salvador Dali
We feel that our work needs to be perfect to be released out onto the public platform, but it really doesn’t. You are your own worst critic, don’t forget that and cut yourself some slack. You are talented, you love doing what you are doing. I find it helpful sometimes to get in touch with the little girl inside me. Imagine yourself as a little 4 year old, how would you speak to her/him? Would you tell her that her art is rubbish or would you think it was wonderful? You need to be kind and gentle with yourself and just enjoy your creative process.
Ideas for change:
Keep painting and creating art every day. The more you practise, the more you are going to get in touch with yourself and your processes.
Leave unperfect parts of your piece, you may learn to love them
Show off work that you are not 100% happy with. You will most likely get great feedback and gain some confidence that you are not so bad after all!!
Keep experimenting with different mediums and techniques. Remember that you don’t know what you don’t know - so keep learning - I don’t think that we can ever stop learning new things
3. Afraid of Failure
OK, I hear “inspirational” people all the time saying that failure is a reality and that you should expect failure! This makes me Mad!! (Grr) Now don’t get me wrong, I am not one of these people that wrap their kids in cotton wool for fear of being hurt, quite the opposite. I just don’t believe in Failure - no I don’t!! Absolutely Don’t!! I had a restaurant, I lost $650,000 in 18 months and I will never concede that it was a failure. No way! I learnt SO much and I am able to be grateful for so much because of that experience. I met amazing people, won a gold plate award, and in case I haven't already said it….I’m grateful for so much now because of that experience. I’m not saying it was a nice experience, it was not, but there is no such thing as failure - only lessons learned. If you don’t like something, you can learn to appreciate the things that you do like and you can recognise what you need to change for the future. In the artworld, the biggest fear of failure is about what people will think of you if they don’t like your work or your work doesn’t sell. Do you ever notice that you never notice what they other person is really wearing because you are always concerned about what you look like and what people are thinking of you? Well, same goes for your art….most of the time, people are not paying that close attention. So, go for it, do what makes you feel happy and stuff what people might think!
Ideas for change:
Don’t accept that failure exists. It just doesn’t. It is just a measure of how you define success and failure and every person has a different yardstick!
Try new ideas until you come up with what makes you feel comfortable and happy
Learn from the things that don’t make you feel happy or comfortable and change them
Learn what works for you and keep working it.
Nothing says that you have to paint a certain way forever - you have one life, you can do whatever you like with it! So stop caring about what other people think, you are not going to fail!!
Start to engage with and embrace the people that are showing you positivity for the work that you do - this is going to create self belief and confidence
You are never going to please everyone. Not everyone understands all art - one person may think that abstract is ridiculous and that only oil landscapes count - each to their own - you can’t please everyone!
(phew, I got a bit heated with that subject - it must have it a nerve!!)
4. Put yourself and your art out there (into the big bad world)
So, how do you go from a hobby at home to showcasing your art to the world? Quite simple really, just start putting your art up on Facebook and Instagram and you will soon get used to it.
I am assuming that most people reading this are a lot further along their journey than posting on Facebook or Instagram for the first time. So, the next steps could be turning your art into a business, setting up a website, selling your art online or to wholesalers or entering art exhibitions. Many of us could find these daunting tasks. I hate to say it, but there does come a time where you have to “just do it” Now, setting up a new business comes very easily to me (I have done it many many times) but I do appreciate that it may not be easy for many. There are so many things that you need to navigate to get there and they can seem technical, governed by the higher powers, and scary. So why don’t you do what I do when setting up a business…..do all the parts that you love first. If you love photography, then build up a nice portfolio of photos of yourself and your art, your art room and things that inspire you. Then start on the next most exciting thing - it could be creating a website. I use WIX as I find it really easy and i have done it all myself. However, I am not beyond getting help from the professionals when I need it!
You can also get onto sites like Freelancer and put up job notices and the price you are willing to pay for something. It can be anything from creating your website, to editing a video, to managing your social media or creating a logo.
So for this part of being Brave - it is also about just jumping in and getting started - you will soon find that things are snowballing in the right direction.
Ideas for change:
Seek out a mentor and gain some positive direction and encouragement
Listen to positive podcasts - I have always got one running, in the shower, in the studio and even during PT sessions.
Do a lot of research. Youtube is great for free information
Start selling your art for what it is worth. Consider the time and products it has taken you to complete that one painting and don’t forget that it could mean 20 have gone in the bin prior to this one for sale….you have to factor it all in, otherwise you are going to be working for a few cents an hour!
Get excited by this new world of opportunity that is just around the corner. There are so many ways to show your art to people, choose what suits you and go with it. You can always open up new avenues for sales later on down the track. You don’t have to do it all right away.
5. Asking Questions and asking for help
You can’t be expected to know everything...and not knowing something doesn’t mean that you are not good at what you do. Each individual has their own talents and their own interests. You are naturally going to be better at what interests you because you are going to research it, you are going to learn it, because you love it. I find mixing colours comes naturally to me and I liken it to someone that can sing or is tone deaf. You either naturally have it, or you need to learn it. And there is nothing wrong with having to learn it - that works equally well. And then something I am terrible at, is freedom of movement…..I am so stuck in my head of perfection that each brush stroke must be right otherwise I find myself wanting to throw it in the bin. I need to learn to relax with that and learn to move more freely and criticise myself less. So, on the technical side of things, this could come down to asking questions and/or asking for help on technical issues such as colour mixing, contrast, complementary colours etc
I am humbled when I am asked for help. That is the first thing I think, humbled. I don’t think oh, how stupid is this person to be asking this? I am actually so grateful at the opportunity that I am able to help someone out with their little problem part of the world.
I am sure that I am speaking for the majority of Artists out there! Come on fellow artists, tell me I am right, you weren’t thinking I’m a pain, or stupid were you? Whenever I have asked for help, I have found that the responses are so friendly and generous. This is a real community that feels like family to me.
Also, research, listen to podcasts and practise lots. There are many ways of getting help other than actually asking for it, although, I feel that you shouldn’t feel bad asking. The answers may be extremely surprising to you and you never know where it may lead.
Hey, I have met some awesome artists that have become friends all because I reached out to them, said hi and asked them over for a cuppa. Don’t forget, we are all human beings, no matter how untouchable some of them may look!!
Ideas for change:
Remember, no one knows everything no matter how accomplished they may look.
Don’t be afraid to show your vulnerable side - it is endearing to others and can get you far
If you don’t ask, you don’t get - it is as simple as that. And when you do, you will wish you asked sooner!
If you ask me, those that ask questions or ask for help are the smart ones!!
I really hope that this blog has helped you in some way today. Maybe this is just what you needed for a little faith and confidence. Please can you let me know in the comments below that you have checked in, and if this has helped you.
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