Before we begin: being confident is not synonymous with turning into an ego driven delusional maniac, just as being humble is not synonymous with being self-deprecating and negative. Okay? Got it? Awesome.
Why should you care about being more confident? Ultimately you will feel better as an artist, you will feel better about your work, other people will feel better about you and your work, and you’ll attract other artists with the same attitude, which in turn will likely motivate you to be more positive about your own work and about the work of others. All good things!
As artists we all seem to think that an attitude of negativity is the one that is most acceptable when it comes to ourselves and our work. That is wrong. I’m here to (hopefully) encourage a more positive outlook on ourselves as artists and our work!
- Accept compliments. When someone pays you a compliment, say ‘thank you’. Don’t say ‘thank you, but I don’t deserve it,’ ‘Thank you but there are better artists out there than me’. ACCEPT IT. Own it. Realise that someone liked your work enough to tell you! Don’t insult them by saying ‘your taste is bad’, because when you throw back a compliment, that’s what you’re saying. You’re also saying you’re not good enough, and you ARE good enough!
- Don’t compliment other artists by undermining yourself. 'I love your work'. There you go. YOU'VE DONE IT. YAY! You've paid a compliment to another artist without tearing yourself down! Don't ever say 'I love your art; I'll never be as good as you.' 'Your art is so good, it makes me want to stop drawing forever.' God, no one wants to hear that. No one wants to deal with that. 'Your art is so wonderful, it really inspires me to keep working on my own'. THAT’S the real compliment you wanted to pay.
- Speak positively about your work. If you don’t care about your work, if you don’t like your work, then why should anyone?
Don’t send mixed signals where you post your work (ok, cool, so, you want us to care), then you say ‘this sucks, I’m terrible, another awful piece from me’ (??? what’s going on), then someone tentatively decides to battle through the confusion to tell you, ‘no, your artwork is great!’ and you respond ‘no, it sucks,’ (what do you want from me?!)
It is TIRING being around artists who don’t like their work and who constantly need third-party feedback that they throw back anyway. Don’t be the kind of artist that hijacks someone else’s livestream to post their art all over the chat, only to say how much you hate it, and how you think the artist streaming is so much better, and everyone just sits there in awkward silence because 1. you’re so desperate for approval you’ve hijacked someone else’s audience 2. no one knows how to deal with you.
It is DIFFICULT to talk to artists who hate their own work, who always speak negatively of the things they produce. No one wants to be around anyone who constantly moans about how their work just isn’t as good, who constantly acts like a little child threatening to give up an activity forever just because they’re not good at it. Maybe you’re not good at it because you think you’re not good at it and it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Quit it. ‘I’m not where I want to be now, but I will work hard and I will get there.’ Better already.
- Don’t speak about your work as if it is always in the shadow of someone else’s. This just breeds jealousy and discontent. There are so many confessions where artists state that they get so terribly jealous when a friend is perceived to be ‘better’ than them at art that they want to give up. WHAT. That is the saddest thing to know that the success of another artist is enough for some people to want to quit.
You will never be as good as artist x or y because you are NOT artist x or y. You are all on your own unique journey, your art is unique, the things you make and what you learn as an artist, are unique, so they are not comparable. Think of your art as a unique, individual entity. The success of someone’s art has no effect on your own. YOU are the effect on your art.
It’s like you and a neighbour decide to start renovating your houses. And after a while you look over the fence and you realise, oh my God, my neighbour’s house is so nice. And you get obsessed with it. And you get bitter about it. And it gets uncomfortable everytime your neighbour calls you over and tells you how proud they are of their house and you just sullenly say ‘it’s better than mine’. Awkward. And you wonder why everyone goes over your neighbour’s house all the time, why don’t they go over to YOUR house? Maybe it’s because you got so focused on your neighbour you stopped working on your house, and in the times you did, you didn’t enjoy it, you kept looking at your neighbour, and everybody can tell. Don’t be like that. It’s OK to admire other people’s houses but always work on your own, and don’t lose sight of it.
- Bad art happens. Get over it. Not everything you turn out will be a masterpiece (and by this same rule, not everything you turn out is the rotting rat carcass fished up from the sewers that you seem so intent on making everyone believe it is). Don’t beat yourself up about it. Yawn. That’s boring. We all produce bad art, cry me more artist tears about it, I don’t care, no one cares. Bad art doesn’t last forever. One piece, two pieces, fifty pieces of bad art doesn’t mean you’re a bad artist. Bad art helps you learn. All art helps you learn. You don’t need to shout to the world about how disappointed you are with a piece. ‘God this is so bad …’, oh no here we go, we’ve heard this before, ‘because I know I can do better/I have done better. Because it didn’t turn out how I wanted, but I’m going to try again. But it was fun and I learned a lot from it. But it makes me laugh and I’m not actually that disappointed.’ Oh? What a plot twist. Bad art isn’t a sign of your failures, it’s a sign that you’re learning and growing. Embrace it.
- You are worth it and your art is worth it. That’s really all you’ve got to remember! Repeat it in the mirror every day until you believe it. Own it and be the best artist you can be. (´∀`)
There are some of you I want to smack over the head with this entire post.
Great advice, great read, great help.