Updated: Sep 14, 2022
Well, that was just it, I didn’t know…
I’ve always loved Art and all things creative… However, I trained and worked as an Engineer for over 20 years. To be truly honest the idea of going to Art College did come to the fore when I was 18, but it was such a fanciful, unrealistic notion no one took it seriously including myself. I didn’t know any artists or people working in any creative type roles, everyone in my world had ‘real’ jobs…..
I was a very curious person though who was interested in lots of different subjects and ideas, so university and a science degree seemed to be the most sensible decision. I must admit now though I never felt at home in that world, I always felt I wasn’t where I was supposed to be.
The practicalities of life in the real world took over for many years and my art was ignored until my mid-thirties when I dabbled in the odd weekly class. From that point painting became a quiet backdrop to the hustle and bustle of everyday life often deprioritized and sometimes ignored for another 10 years.
My creativity came to the surface in other ways, but it wasn’t enough. As the years rolled by, I knew something was missing, really missing and there was a big hole that needed to be filled. I still didn’t understand what that hole was though…
Then out of the blue I got the opportunity to participate in a joint exhibition and I started painting in earnest. It was only then I truly understood what a huge part of my soul art and painting was and that it couldn't be ignored any longer. I realise now I had been longing to be part of a world very different to the one I worked in but had been calling to me for a very long time. So, now I’m on a journey and I’m not sure where this journey will take me. I don’t know what doors may open and what opportunities may present themselves. All I know is I can’t go back, I need to keep putting one foot in front of the other and welcome every new day I get to explore, create and transform. I’m reimagining a new life for myself which is so exciting and a little scary, but I know now I’m where I’m supposed to be.
As I follow this new path I’m growing and discovering what I can do but also dealing with those thoughts and doubts all artists and creatives have. The fear, the uncertainty, the guilt. I came across some great advice this week that really resonated with me on Artwork archive which I’d like to share.
Nine things you should give up to become a successful Artist
Give up feeling guilty or selfish
Everyone contributes to the world in different ways. We need doctors and lawyers and teachers, but we also need artists and craftspeople and creatives. All these diverse people and skillsets make our world more interesting, vibrant and enjoyable.
Artists often feel guilty for not having a “real” job and that they should be contributing more to the family income. They then either feel guilty when they are in the studio away from their family or away from the studio and not working. Guilt is a counterproductive emotion. If you find yourself feeling this way, remind yourself that your work is important and needed.
Give up your need for praise
You might want everyone to like your work, but that’s not going to happen. And, in fact, it’s better that not everyone does like your work. Self-doubt definitely plays a role, but it can be empowering to know that not everyone is going to love your technique or subject, and that is ok. It means you are getting at something interesting and something different.
Give up on the “not enough” mindset
Successful artists don’t frame things around “not enough.” There is never enough time, not enough money, not enough confidence, not enough of whatever it is at that moment to make or do that you need to do to be a successful artist. They all point to an underlying fear of not being enough. When you see fear differently it loses its power over us. That underlying fear is more uncomfortableness and uncomfortableness is a good thing, it’s an opportunity to grow and flourish. It’s just something we’re passing through on the way to your goals and aspirations.
Give up comparisons
Here’s the thing about comparisons: you are always going to be better at some things than other people, and worse at other things. Dwelling on either isn’t going to get you anywhere.
It can stifle your creativity as an emerging artist to compare yourself to someone who is twenty years into their career, and it can stunt your growth to compare your work to someone who is just starting out.
Instead of focusing on how you stack up next to someone else, invest that energy into comparing your recent work with the work you made six months ago, a year ago and five years ago.
● Have you grown?
● And where do you want to see yourself six months, a year, and five years in the future?
Only compare yourself to yourself.
Give up making excuses
If you want to be a successful artist, you have to show up. You have to do the work.
If you are like any other artist in the world, you probably have said to yourself at one time something along the lines of, “I can’t go to the studio today because I’m too busy, my family needs me too much”. And you know what? It feels good to do that. It feels justified and reasonable and like you are doing the right thing for yourself.
But this is about our FEAR masquerading as resistance; that thing, or idea, or busy work, or Netflix, or self-doubt, or procrastination, or rejection, that stops us from showing up and making our art.
Give up looking for validation where you know you’re not going to find it
You may have heard the adage that we are the sum of the five people we spend the most time with. Spend it with those that push you to succeed, those that encourage you, those that have succeeded as an artist and those that inspire you to do so.
Give up working all the time
Sure, you have to show up to the studio even when you don’t want to do the work. But you also have to know when to leave and when to take the time to take care of your body, your health, and your emotional and social well-being. You can’t make your best work if you aren’t investing in your body and mind as well.
Give up perfectionism
This goes hand-in-hand with the fear of failure. Artists who obsess on the need to make everything perfect often are afraid of failure. The irony in this is that they then fail to ever put anything out there.
The only path to growth is putting your work out to the public. The hard reality is that you will probably fail over the course of your art career (however you define failure). The comforting part of this is that so will everyone else. Failure just means you are learning and growing. Keep failing, because you will be learning your entire career.
Give up the myth of the scattered Artist
Successful artists know that they must be organized to get ahead.
Not only does being organized cut down on the stress that comes along with an art career, it also helps you present yourself with professionalism.