For so many years I had “Imposter Syndrome”. I doubted myself and my abilities and always felt like I was faking it. I felt like this when I was teaching middle school art; like I had been “pulling the wool” over the eyes of everyone. It didn’t matter how many accolades I received in the field. As an artist, the feeling was even more intense- enough to keep me away from my work for months at a time. I was so afraid to put myself out there; afraid of being judged; afraid of not being good enough.
Belief in one’s creativity and skill is essential, but until you take the chance to create something, you won’t have a chance to start building that belief. And a belief is just a thought you keep thinking. So if you are not making, not being creative, not taking that risk, there is no chance for that belief to grow.
Here are some ways to sweep that self-doubt aside:
1. MENTOR A NEW ARTIST. It was always eye-opening to me how much I knew about teaching when I would impart my wisdom to a student-teacher. As a working artist, sharing what I know with students or other artists has been a great way for me to see that I have what it takes to believe in myself as a creative. Imparting advice or wisdom gives you that chance to articulate all the knowledge you’ve accumulated over the years. Even if you are just starting out, there is always a younger artist who would be excited to know what you know.
2. SIGN UP FOR A CLASS OR JOIN AN ARTIST PATREON. Patreon is a great way to stay creative and learn new tips and skills. Most well-known artists’ Patreon sites have different tiers of instruction and many include monthly critiques at the top tier. Critiques not only help you address areas you need to improve, but they will help you see where your strengths are as well.
3. TAKE AN ART WORKSHOP. So much fun! I only had the chance to take one workshop live before the pandemic hit, but the ZOOM workshops are great too. I have learned new techniques and connected with fellow artists. Just be careful to keep your own style, putting your own spin on the processes the workshop instructor shares. Some art workshops encourage this type of exploration. Oftentimes it’s better to take a workshop from an artist who has a completely different style than your own.
4. DAILY STUDIO TIME. Making art a habit is essential. I remember back in art school they required you to have a sketchbook. Some of the best artists throughout history and today sketch daily. I am still terrible about working in a sketchbook and I need to change that. However, I started painting from life just about every day and that is making a huge difference in my skill level. Some artists I know will paint first thing in the morning before they go to work, even if it’s only for 15 minutes. Getting better is really all about the “easel time” so they say. If you can’t get yourself to paint something, just get in your creative space and do something- clean, rearrange, set up a still life, framework, etc.
5. POST YOUR WORK! Yes, I know it is super scary to put yourself out there, but you will get such a boost from the positive feedback you get! Start off posting where you know there are people who love your work, then ease into posting on other art groups. There are some I still hesitate to post on, knowing my work isn’t in the same league. However, after doing a litmus test so to speak on my personal page, I sometimes find the courage to post on the “Big Dog” sites. You never know when a “rock star” in the art world will comment on yours or an art manufacturer shares your work. When that happens it’s enough to shake off all that imposter dust!
It felt so good to come out of that pile of self doubt and get creative again! Remember, we have been given a gift ~ and what good is a gift if we never enjoy it?
So no matter what your artistic endeavors are, take some time each day to take those risks to become the creator you have always dreamed you’d be.
What are your go-tos for boosting your self confidence in your creative pursuits?
Leave a comment below to help out a fellow creator in their journey to self-worth.
Laurie Basham ~ ARTIST
I am a pastellist who loves to capture those moments of visual excitement in life that take my breath away.