Many excellent artists get stuck because they doubt themselves and their work. Overwhelmed by the competition, they think that everyone else is more accomplished and that success comes through luck or by some magic formula. I listen to their worries every day: “but I don’t have an art degree . . . I don’t know anyone in the art world . . . my work doesn’t fit current trends.”
While honest doubts will get you further than a raging ego, remember that your belief in yourself is both a powerful strength and a necessary first step in an art career.
Gender roles have created two familiar stereotypes. Many women artists keep apologizing for their work, while their male counterparts never pause in their self-promotion long enough to listen to feedback. Both extremes get in the way of building real confidence.
Confidence is grounded in an active, consistent art practice. You cannot believe in your work unless you are doing it, unless you are immersed in it every day or every week. Being deeply involved in art making is the foundation for everything else.
The next step is to take your work out of hiding and let it breathe in the world. This might mean entering your work in juried shows, or inviting people for a studio visit, or sharing new work with artist friends. Choose whatever feels like a safe place for you, and welcome the views of others you trust. Objective feedback helps you understand your own art: its strengths and areas for growth.
Never apologize for your work, for your effort, for the fact that you are an artist. Instead of discounting the praise you receive, accept it gracefully, as something you deserve. Practice talking confidently about your work and soon you’ll convince yourself.
Mary Edwards, Ph.D
Career & Life Coach for Artists
“Left Brain Skills for Right Brained People”
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As an artist coach, I bring a unique combination of business knowledge, art world experience, and professional coaching skill to my practice.