How to overcome the fear of failure and under-valuing the worth of your art and skills
Lots of artists encounter an intrinsic fear of failure . And oftentimes, this fear is driven by a core deep-seated sentiment: My art (and thus myself) are not good enough.
These feelings of unworthiness are common amongst both new and experienced creatives. They feel their art is bad and that no one would even care to consider it seriously. And what I have seen happen in some cases is a fledgling artist succumbing to their feelings, putting away their canvas and brushes, and never daring to touch art ever again.
Now, I would be lying if I said I never experienced feelings of unworthiness. Nay! The opposite is quite true.
I have personally felt this way about my art many many MANY times, and in this post and video, I walk through the process of letting the fear go.
Even in all my years of creating, I still feel that self-doubt and battle big bouts of imposter syndrome. But, despite those feelings, I still keep going and create more art, to spite those emotions.
Understanding why our art IS good enough
Art is a learning process. What we often see as the art masterpieces in galleries and museums is an artist’s magnum opus – a culmination of their years of botched paintings, hacked drawings, sleepless nights, self-loathing, and whisky-induced tantrums. We don’t see any of the half-baked sketches or the horribly painted canvas. We only see the good stuff. And that is important to remember.
We often fall into the trap of feeling not good enough when we start comparing ourselves and our work to others. We see someone’s years and years of art experience on canvas and conclude that our experience is unworthy of notice. If I may inject some tough love, that notion is just utterly ridiculous.
Comparing your work to that of Monet, Bansky, DaVinci, or Picasso is like comparing apples to oranges. Every person’s creative journey is different, and thus, their art and progress WILL be different.
So be forgiving and understand you are in the learning process. It’s OK and perfectly normal to make mistakes and create art you absolutely hate. And as much as you need to love yourself in the process, you also want to have a positive mindset towards continuous improvement. You want your art to get better. So practice. Learn the fundamentals. Get back to basics. Do everything you need to do to cast that annoying little voice of self-doubt out.
Ignoring the Negative Voices
This is a very sore subject for me, especially as a creator here on Youtube, where my art is on public display for the world to see and comment on. The Youtube community as a whole is and has been absolutely wonderful. A majority of my subscribers are loving, supportive, grateful creatives who look to my work to get inspired.
However, with all the positivity and awesome feedback, come the negative ones. And I’m not talking constructive criticism. I’m referring to mean, insensitive comments that come from a place of lack. And it is these comments from negative people, what I like to call lack trolls, that really rub me the wrong way.
Beware the Lack Trolls
It is very easy to get wrapped up in the negative comments, whether it be comments talking about my appearance, my artwork, my “talent”, or how to run my art business (this one is my favorite one by far!).
There are ways to give art critiques and constructive feedback; it is quite another to put down another fellow artist in order to guilt them into getting more free stuff out of them. This is something that has not only happened to me, but to a multitude of other artists. Lack trolls just want to keep taking and taking and taking, and never see the full value of what these artists are providing to them. And what is worse is these lack trolls publicly slamming creatives, expecting special treatment and/or cheaper prices so they can get what they want.
This is literal poison to creatives, because they not only feel their art and hard work is worthless, but they also feel the urge to devalue themselves at the expense of the free-loading lack trolls. I have seen this soooo often in the art community it literally makes me sick.
And the buck stops here.
Art is expression and a means to spread a message; it is also a way for lots of artists to earn income to support themselves so they can keep creating more art. If we as artists continue to devalue our work, lowering our prices to keep lack trolls happy, that will only make you feel expendable, overworked, burnt-out, and worst of all, unable to create more art, because you just can’t freaking afford to do it anymore.
Now, there isn’t any way to block these haters. They will always be there doing what they do best.
What matters is what you do about it, and that starts mentally.
Know your worth.
There will always be haters, free-loaders, and negative people who will try to suck out every bit of creative energy out of you – most often for their own benefit like trying to sell your artwork as their own (true story!).
Instead focus on you.
You are so worthy, and you bring years of experience to the table with your artwork. Remember all those long hours and nights of sketching, doodling, painting, and re-painting, and know all those hours did not go to waste. You put your soul and personal story on canvas, a story that only YOU can tell. You invested in yourself with time and practice. You may even have taken courses to further improve your skill. All those things prove time and time again that you and your artwork are highly valued. Don’t ever try to short-sell yourself on this.
I know I went on a bit of rant here, but this is a subject I have been wanting to talk about for quite some time, and I felt it totally appropriate to mention it here for anyone who is struggling with the feelings of failure and unworthiness as an artist. You are in control of how you feel about yourself; no one else.
Know your value. Know your worth.