A Confident Artist?
Over the past few months, as I have been meeting more and more artists of all types of media, I am learning that a truly, 100% confident artist ranks right up there with unicorns and other fictitious creatures – they probably don’t exist. Sure, there might be some who know their work rocks every single time. That’s great to be that confident, but I know more who are in the not-so-confident camp.
When I created this image, I was not at all confident in it. I was afraid to post it. I had no idea if anyone would get what I was trying to say with it or if it would even be liked at all. Most shocking to me, however, was that it received a lot of positive feedback. I didn’t see that coming!
Does any of this sound familiar to you? Your heart races and your face flushes. You are shaking inside and your hands are trembling over the mouse. Your stomach starts to turn. “Do I dare click “post” or do I delete?” Oh my God. The irrational fear rips through you uncontrollably. This is sometimes how I feel before posting an image to social media.
A few months ago, I went to a board meeting where a mural project was being discussed for our town. I was a contributing artist in a very small capacity – I provided a few photo composites of images so the painters had a reference to paint on the wall (only one of them ended up being used for the project.) After the meeting, the artists, most of them I really hadn’t known much at this point at all, invited me to join them for drinks. I was beyond intimidated to be around all these very well-established artists. I felt “less than” because not only were their works beyond beautiful and of a technique I will most likely never master (paint), but they had Bachelor’s, Master’s and even Ph. D.’s in freakin’ art. They had also had an entire lifetime of experience in the field. Did I say intimidated, yet?
While we were sitting there, talking among ourselves (ok, they were talking. I was entirely too intimidated to open my mouth for fear of sounding stupid to them), one of the artists started to mention how worried she was that the people who hired them for the mural wouldn’t like her work, the town people would think the mural was ugly, etc. I recall looking at her with a crinkle in my brows. I was shocked. I was not understanding how someone whose work I admired so much and was so beautiful was worried about these things. It didn’t make sense to me.
A few days later, my art gallery manager friend and I were talking. We got around to discussing confidence. I was telling her how I lacked confidence (I had to leave the gallery on my very first art exhibit because I was so afraid I would hear someone say how ugly my pieces were. My anxiety levels rose to an all time high, and if I didn’t get out of there immediately, I was going to cry – or throw up. Not sure which would have been worse at this point.) I told her I didn’t understand why the other artist was so worried. Her exact words will never be forgotten by me: “There is no such thing as a completely confident artist.”
Surprisingly, my fellow artist friend’s lack of confidence is what helped my confidence to grow. Knowing that even the best of the best from time to time feel not so confident made me realize my feelings were normal. I was not alone in feeling “less than” when it came to my art. Having her express her fears helped me to tackle my own. (This in no way implies that I have all of a sudden become completely confident in every piece of work that I do.)
Since I am very confident in every other area in my life, it was odd to me that I had zero confidence in this area. But then it hit me. Our work is personal. So very personal. It is who we are to the very core of us and we are putting that out for the world to see. Sharing our innermost self with others is scary. It’s downright fear-inducing sometimes.
My reasons for writing this particular blog post is in the hopes that it may help someone else. Knowing we all lack 100% confidence will hopefully help someone who was just like me start to feel a bit more confident about their work. It’s hoping you don’t give up because for some reason, you feel “less than.”