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Confessions of an Artist, Professional Artists Struggle Too

An artist confessing about their life.

Confessions of an Artist, Professional Artists Struggle Too

Confessions of an Artist, Professional Artists Struggle Too

Even seemingly successful artists struggle with their craft. They can be left feeling like they haven’t genuinely earned that success or be in a creative slump that they feel they will never get out of, despite having “made it” in the world of art. 

It just goes to show that everything is relative. An onlooker might see a wildly accomplished artist, though that might not be how they perceive themselves. Here, we’ll share confessions of an artist, go over a few common hurdles all creative people have to overcome, and some helpful tips to aid you in overcoming them.

Artists rarely post their worst work

Looking around at all the amazing art out there, and then looking at the beginnings of your own work can be a little discouraging. You are left constantly looking at what you deem as “bad” work and have a very high standard because of what you see other people posting and sharing. 

Keep in mind, when you see all that fabulous art, it has likely taken a decent amount of time to hone that skill. Artists aren’t going to put their first poor sketches out there, just like writers don’t publish their first drafts of a book. Why would they? Everyone wants to show off their polished masterpieces, not the dozen pieces before it that weren’t so hot.

So remember, everyone has some bad pieces and occasionally makes less than awesome art. Just because you don’t see other’s bottom of the barrel work, doesn’t mean it’s not there. They have just selectively shared their best. As you should too!

Successful artists can sometimes feel like imposters

A lot of times, when an artist has “made it” in the industry, they can still feel unworthy. Like they somehow pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes and are truly an imposter pretending to be a great artist. Even though they may be working on crazy big projects with other famous artists or getting rave reviews from galleries, self-doubt can be a very big challenge.

They worry about whether they are really equipped or even at all qualified to play the part of an artist in the first place. The people who regard their work as wonderful must be confused or somehow fooled into believing the art is worth admiration. Though that is seldom true.

In her amazing book Big Magic; Creative Living Beyond Fear, Elizabeth Gilbert discusses this phenomenon and emphasizes the need for courage in these moments of doubt. In a laundry list of fears, she mentions “You’re afraid of being exposed as a hack, or a fool, or a dilettante, or a narcissist” and goes on to say “when courage dies, creativity dies with it.”

The creative life is a life for the brave. We all know this. Every single time you take a pen to paper or a brush to a canvas it requires fearlessness. Do yourself a favor and make a claim to the world that “I am here and I am an artist!” 

Most importantly, don’t discount yourself. You are where you are for a reason. All the hard work and effort you pour into your craft does indeed mean you are well equipped and fully qualified. And most of all, worthy.

Artists can sometimes get into a serious slump

Professional artists struggle too.

As a creative, it can be really easy to slip into a slump. Struggling to not only create, but also hating everything you are making. Feeling like it’s just no good and losing motivation. 

This funk can be hard to get out of, for sure. When you tackle a project and all it makes you want to do is cringe, how do you keep going? Don’t worry, all artists go through this. It’s rare that an artist is struck by endless flowing inspiration every moment of every day. Most of us experience a wide, and sometimes frustrating, range of creative motivation.

Set aside the time and make something, anything. Make a plan for a project and stick to it, even when you can’t even imagine what you would draw or paint, do it anyway. Set a thirty-minute timer and just put something down. It doesn’t matter what, and it certainly doesn’t have to be perfect. Or maybe try pulling out an old piece that you really enjoy and recreating it. 

Some artists find it helpful to get outside, take a walk, and find inspiration in nature. Anywhere you can capture a little joy and beauty, you are bound to dig up some motivation. Scroll through your favorite artist’s feed to see what they’ve been creating. Listen to music that moves you. Anything to get those creative juices flowing. 

Artists feel like others are surpassing them 

Pro artists struggle as well.

With so many people doing such fantastic work all around the world, it can feel like a bit of a race. Perhaps within your art community, someone who started out at the same time as you has “surpassed” you in their renown within the industry. 

The most important thing we can say is to not compare yourself to others. We all learn and grow at different rates. It does not mean that you are any less of a wonderful artist. It simply means that your path has taken a slightly different course. And that’s ok! Who knows, maybe it will lead you to new and exciting opportunities along the way.

You can, however, use that fear as a motivator. Learn more, do more work outside of your comfort zone, and also try teaching. Taking time to teach others only improves your understanding of a topic and inherently will drive you to learn more so you can share more.  

After all, they do say that teaching is the best form of learning.

Inspiring artists are also trying to inspire themselves

These days, online art courses, tutorial videos, and social media posts have become super popular. Great artists are posting helpful tips and tricks to aid other creative people in their journey. Though, a lot of the time those affirmations are also for themselves as well. 

Sharing things like cultivating positive reinforcement to stay on track, keep going, to believe in yourself, and to pick yourself up when you’re in a slump. All of those ideas are pointed at the greater art community, but they are also good reminders for the artist posting them too. We can all use a cheerleader in our corner, and you are your best advocate.

Positive self-talk is critical in staying motivated and inspired. If you are constantly saying “man, that last piece I did was awful” or “why can’t I get my butt in gear? I must not be good anymore.” All of that negativity will wear down your creativity and, ultimately, your self-worth as an artist. 

Any time you find that awful little voice in the back of your head discounting your value as an artist or telling you that you’re not as good as that other guy and you should just give up, kindly tell it to take a hike. You have art to make and don’t have time to listen to that nonsense. 

Many artists find having affirmations can be a big help. Something like “I trust in my abilities and that they are exactly where they need to be” or “I am capable of bringing forth the hidden gems within myself.” 

Maybe share something on social media about your struggle and provide support for others by sharing your affirmations. You’ll be amazed at how many encouraging comments you will get from other artists who feel the same way. Creating a positive feedback loop that benefits you and others. 

Be courageous so you can create

Confessions of an artist.

There will always be moments of fear and self-doubt when you make any form of art. Any time you step into the creative realm, you are bringing forth meaningful art. Have faith in yourself and your abilities. And for goodness sake, don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Remember, everything is relative.

It’s going to be a challenge, but getting used to the pressure and stress of being an artist is going to be a huge help. Let those doubts and fears be the fuel to the fire that drives you. If you can keep them in check and use them to your advantage you can do amazing things. 

Just keep pushing forward, no matter what. Even if you are scared or doubt you will be successful. Always be kind to yourself. Speak kindly to yourself and have some affirmations that reinforce just what an awesome person and artist you truly are. 

Don’t forget, no artist makes only flawless work. We definitely all have terrible pieces that the world will never see, and that’s alright. You deserve to be in a creative space, regardless of whether you believe you are worthy or not. 

If you create art, you are an artist. It’s that simple. Don’t compare yourself to others and their rapid success. Only compare yourself to who you were yesterday. Always keep learning art. Teach others things you have found to be helpful and in doing so you will also inspire yourself. 

So get to creating! We believe in you!

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