Show me what you got…
Self-Confidence… something we all battle to maintain one time or another. For creatives, it’s hiding away the talent that should be shared. Without self-confidence, the ideas that we personally love won’t find the light, won’t inspire or reach other souls, won’t amuse or make someone glow with enjoyment but instead will leave the colourful mind torn and grey.
Accept the black and red gamble
Yes opinions will surface (positive and negative) towards your work but everyone is entitled to thoughts, so if you share opinions (because that’s what *art is) how can someone say you are wrong? It is more about how a person hears your idea than how they judge your skill. We need to break that link that if we think someone won’t like it, we are a failure. Some work I’ve done and hated have spoken to people the most and some work that I’ve loved has not had much of a reaction. You can’t predict what others have been dealt, their hand influences their decisions and how are you supposed to bank on any certainty? It’s what makes the game interesting - there would be no fun with the same cards, same odds, same winner, every time.
Lay your cards out on the table
The most important goal for you as a creative person is to use your craft, if you are not then you are not being true to yourself. You are insulting and starving yourself, you will feel lonely because the only you you are does not exist. You will feel alienated because your thoughts are not being interactive with the public. The only way to gain self-confidence is to get your work out there, you may not like it, it might make you shudder with fear and dread but you need to… Keep the connection and understand that your thoughts do not define who you are but you bring ideas together to challenge, inspire, madden, please or even disappoint an audience.
If you don’t get the reaction you expect or want - what do you fear? that people won’t like it? Well they will only move on and find something that speaks to them, you will not ‘speak’ to everybody.
Full House or Straight Flush?
Move forward with the decisions you make. Fear may protect you from failure or pain but it will also keep you away from success and happiness. The way to beat fear is to acknowledge the thought, push the doubt aside (because it’s ALWAYS ok to try) and do it anyway - that’s courage to get somewhere closer to your goal.
Dealer takes none - Don’t Doubt yourself
Comparing yourself with others will only feed your doubt - do not do it. Use what inspires you for reference and do not use it to judge yourself. Their successes should be celebrated, that includes you and it should end there.
Distract that thought and use the work you like as reference instead - it may be the biggest form of flattery but it plays a part in some of your best work - you look at styles you like, try it, and then decide if it fits or not. Use mood boards to keep these references for future projects.
You can fold but you will not call
The truth is if we are oversaturated with doubtful thoughts, you will feel that you are no longer able to contribute in any way and then it gets hard for a compliment from others to stick or be felt. You have probably had many a compliment and it just gets absorbed by the bigger bully thoughts which is insulting to the person that paid you the compliment and you are cheating yourself out of feeling what you deserve.
Don’t hide behind that poker-face
I hid from art for a very long time and getting back into it by going back to College was the best thing for confidence. It forced me to submit and show work and I may not have been ok with doing that but I learnt to accept that people have different talents and different responses and that is ok. I have different taste when it comes to books/art/food/shows so it’s right to expect it from others. Competitions are also a great way to show your work, stay involved, get inspired by other work and boost your confidence.
Or ‘Personal PEP Talk’ to keep your competitive drive alive! Think of something that will summarise encouraging thoughts…prep for the game ahead. The coach motivational speech. Make it relevant and fresh so that every time you read it you will take a deep breath and inhale the words. I have a few quotes printed that I refer to or I dip in and read a few pages of Neil Gaiman’s delightful book “Art Matters” illustrated by Chris Riddell to remind myself that what we do IS important - inspiring illustrations and words. Not everyone can think up ideas, it is a talent even though you may think it’s the most natural thing to do.
Remind yourself your work is your own and people are invited to play their cards - they may fold their hand but the game will go on with the players that raise you - take those compliments! Win that game!
*Art is referenced as any form of creative expression.
“Beyond Thin” Digital Media by Karen Hitchcock entered and chosen for display at the St Helens Open Art Competition at the World of Glass St Helens.
Would you like to read the story that inspired the image? Link can be found here.
If you would like to see the winners of the St Helens Open Art Competition 2019, visit The St Helens Star Article.