Are you an Artist?
Sometimes answering that question can be intimidating. Or answering it can feel contrived, artificial, or arrogant. Looking at others’ work, and where they are in their art journey can be intimidating too.
Heck – Sometimes? How about ALWAYS.
Are you in that space in your journey where you find yourself second-guessing? Are you getting urges to quit? Or maybe you are feeling that super-contagious artist envy over and over again? Telling yourself you will never be as good as so-and-so, then spending hours trolling the internet, looking to be proven right? Here is a tip:
THAT ISN’T HELPING!
So in addition to ignoring the internet feeding into your insecurities and fears, why don’t you put away the social media too? At least for awhile. Then put the blinders on, plug your ears to block out the naysayers. Here are 4 perspectives to jumpstart your grit and level up your self-confidence to keep doing that thing you love, no matter what.
Write these down. Then tack them on the wall.
ROME WASN’T BUILT IN A DAY, AND DA VINCI’S PORTFOLIO WASN’T EITHER
So wrap up the pity party. Shut it down! It isn’t becoming, it isn’t constructive and it isn’t going to make your art better in any way. Just draw. Just paint. Just commit. That is how you get good. And then better. And it’s also how you will arrive at building a portfolio so that whenever people ask you “Are you an artist?” you can say, “Why yes, and here is my portfolio.” Wherever you feel your skill level is at right now does not determine whether or not you are an artist.
YOUR ART SALES DO NOT DETERMINE YOUR IDENTITY – OR YOUR WORTH
Remember Van Gogh? He had hundreds of paintings, stacked up, unsold when he died, and it is unclear whether he sold even more than one in his lifetime. That isn’t to say you will suffer the same fate – especially if you have enough grit. Those were different times. Oh, if only Vincent had TikTok! But the point is, look how famous that guy is now. Everyone who doesn’t live under a rock knows who Van Gogh is. So his lack of financial success through his art was no measure of his talent or whether or not he was an “artist” or even popular. Not one bit.
The same goes for you. Just because the world doesn’t know your work (yet) doesn’t mean you aren’t an artist.
YOUR # OF FOLLOWERS DO NOT DETERMINE WHETHER OR NOT YOU ARE AN ARTIST
Some artists are lucky enough to not have to go on social media to gain exposure. And others actually seek to escape it. Some artists are finding that social media is not helping them at all, and others gain sales solely from their social media. Life existed before the internet, and if we ever see the zombie apocalypse, life will go on after social media too.
If you want to have followers, you know what to do, but don’t feel like just because you put up a few pics of your paintings and they aren’t getting any bites that your work is no good or that you are an artistic failure. Not true. It probably is more of an indicator that you have not found your tribe (but more likely your algorithm) yet.
When you do find those people who love your work – and they are out there – and you tap into that group, you won’t know what to do to keep up with the demand. Until then, keep trying new things to see where those folks are, or if you want to tighten up your style. Whatever you do, don’t give up. If you pack up the brushes just because you lack some online engagement, you will never know if you were just on the brink of finally cracking your target market code.
YOU ARE STILL AN ARTIST EVEN IF YOU DIDN’T GO TO ART SCHOOL
Have you heard of Paul Cezanne? Who hasn’t! (Probably the same people that haven’t heard of Van Gogh) Well, guess who was largely self-taught? That guy! I am pretty sure someone asked him, “Are you an artist?” and I bet he said “Yes! Yes I am.”
Maybe you have taken some classes here and there, trained for awhile under someone whose work you admire, or maybe you started but never finished art school. Maybe you have never taken a class in your life. None of that – not one bit of it determines who you are, your value, or the quality of work you do.
In essence, you do you. That’s it. Now, if you want to be a better artist, that takes time, grit, hard work, perseverance, and some serious ear plugs, because for every painting you paint, pot you throw, or figure you sculpt, there will be someone right there, lining up with an opinion. Your job is to know when to listen, and when to walk away.
So, are you an artist? Don’t ever be ashamed to tell the world that you are. And if you want to be an artist, just make art.