Ever feel like there’s something holding you back? Do you have a little voice inside that says “am I really good enough?” or “should I be wasting my time with art, my work’s not good enough”? If so, chances are you’ve got imposter syndrome.
Imposter syndrome affects so many artists and creative people and can stop you from growing your business or pursuing your dreams. But how should you deal with imposter syndrome as an artist?
Fear and self-doubt was something that hugely held me back for a long time, and I know it holds a lot of other artists back as well. Now you may think “well Amanda, you seem super confident, you do Facebook Lives and YouTube videos and you make it seem easy!”.
The truth is I had to force myself do them.
Naturally, I am quite introverted and like being alone a lot of the time. I had to learn to push through the fear in order to be able to do these.
Imposter syndrome affects us all in different ways. One of my biggest fears was not having an art degree.
Because of this, I thought that my work couldn’t be good enough and I couldn’t stand next to the other amazing artists out there with their phenomenal work. For a long time, I didn’t even pursue my art career.
The truth is we’ve been given a gift or talent, we have something to say, we have a message to get across and we say it in our own unique way. Every artist is different, and it’s that difference that makes us amazing.
I don’t think there’s ever a point that we get to as an artist where we think, yes, my work is good enough. It’s a constant process of evolving and learning, and trying to get better and analysing. The whole process is amazing. But I don’t think anybody ever gets to a stage where they’re like, “yes, everything is good enough. Now I’ve finally reached that pinnacle, I’m there” – for creative types like us, it never seems to happen!
Remember though – it’s your own unique voice as an artist that’s important – nobody else is gonna say the same thing that you are going to say in the same way and you’ll find your customers who love your work because it’s yours.
Fear and self-doubt as an artist can show itself in so many ways, from pricing our work too low, doing exchanges or freebies for friends and family and things like that. It’s fine to do that if you want to gift something, but quite often artists feel, because they enjoy their work, they shouldn’t charge for it or they should discount it because it was easier. And that is not the case at all. You should be able to earn a living from your work!
One of the things that held me back was just the fear of thinking you can’t make an income from art, and I don’t want to struggle. I have two boys, I’m a single mum. I have responsibilities and bills and I don’t want to be struggling my entire life.
And again, that’s fear and it’s old, outdated beliefs.
It doesn’t have to be like that.
You don’t have to look far to see how many successful artists there are out there, and that it’s a myth that you can’t make a living from art! There are so many artists making a fantastic living now, and a lot of them are doing it in their own way. They are either selling direct through their own websites, or perhaps they’re doing it blended with a gallery and the support of a gallery.
There are so many different options open to us and so many different possibilities that to say, in this day and age, it is impossible to make a living from your art is just a mindset thing and completely untrue.
The other thing about fear and self-doubt is energetically, it’s never going to work.
If we are in a mindset of lack, fear, self-doubt, then that gives off a certain vibration, and it’s impossible for us to do well, really, if we are in that state of lack, rather than that state of abundance. And I know it’s very easy to say, “well, how do you get from one to the other”, or it’s easy for me to say “oh, be in this kind of mindset”, but it can be difficult to achieve. Imposter syndrome as an artist is tough!
So, how do I get from a mindset of fear and self-doubt, and being unsure as to whether anybody will buy my work, to being in this more confident mindset?
How do you overcome imposter syndrome as an artist?
It’s about just knowing quietly, knowing deep down inside that it’s going to work. Not hoping, not keeping your fingers crossed, not being unsure, because again, those are all doubting and slightly more negative mindsets.
It’s about getting the evidence together, and seeing just how many artists that are out there at the minute, looking at what they’re doing and how they’re doing it, how they became successful and knowing deep down, knowing that it’s possible for you too. The next step is to create a plan and just quietly work towards your goals.
If you know something’s going to happen, and you know it’s guaranteed, you kind of relax into a little bit, don’t you?
When you go to the supermarket, it’s a crazy analogy, but it just come to the top of my head. You know there’s going to be food there. Well, actually, some of the shelves are a bit bare at the minute, and that’s probably about a bad example ;-).
But there are certain situations where you just know what will happen, for example you put your dinner in the oven and you know it’s gonna come out cooked (or in my case, burnt!). But that knowing feeling makes you relax into the situation. And it’s that knowing that we need to develop as an artist.
Yes, we need to continuously strive to make our work better, to learn more, to step back and impartially critique it, which is going to obviously improve it, but not to rip holes into it and pull shreds out of it, and to doubt ourselves and our own ability.
We each have something unique to say as artists – each and every one of us. Tune into that voice and tune out the voice that says it’s impossible.
I remember there’s an old tale about two wolves, one of which is confident, assured of abundance and wealth, and the other is negative, fearful and doubting.
You get to choose which one it is you feed.
Which of those wolves are you going to allow to survive?
The answer is whichever one you feed.
By allowing yourself to get wrapped up in the fear, the self doubt, the “it’s not possible”, that “nobody’s gonna buy my work” attitude, that will grow and it will get stronger and stronger. If you quiet it down and don’t listen to it, and you feed the other one, yes, it’s possible. Why would it not be possible for you if it’s possible for other people?
One of the main things I regret looking back (I don’t really have regrets to be fair, ’cause there’s nothing you can do about them), is being held back by those voices that say “it’s not possible”, “it’s gonna be difficult”, “you’re not good enough because you don’t have a degree”, “you can’t sit next to those other artists”, and we all have them. I don’t care who you are, whether you are at the very top of your career or whether you are just starting out, everybody has them.
The choice is yours – do you want to live your life listening to those negative voices? Or do you want to feed the other wolf, the one that’s gonna move you forward and give you joy, and just allow you to see what an amazing life it is if you step into your courage and bravery as an artist.
If you need support moving forward with your art journey, get in touch! On the blog there are tons of resources to encourage your confidence in your art (such as the free Artists Roadmap to help you figure out your next steps) and the Passion to Profit course can help artists create a thriving and profitable art business in 90 days or less.
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