In the wake of the end of year contest deadline announcements there comes the wave of artist anxiety and fear and sometimes anger and frustration over these contests. Being judged is never a comfortable experience, but I’m here to tell you all that if you’re experiencing a great deal of anxiety or fear over entering these contests, then you’re thinking about them entirely wrong. If the fear of rejection is keeping you from putting your work out there, going after opportunities, talking to the right people, or entering contests then you’re giving way too much power to chance.
There are two kinds of guilt, and it’s a toss-up which is worse: guilt you feel towards yourself, or guilt you feel towards others. In fact, they’re two sides of the same coin — but heads or tails, you’re losing either way. The definition of guilt is “a feeling of having done wrong or failed in an obligation” but I think that sentence inadequately portrays the particular feeling of horror, squirming, embarrassment, and failure that comes wrapped up together when we feel guilty.
This post isn’t about the nitty gritty questions of what formats and how many pieces should be in a portfolio, this is about what content you should have in your portfolio. Because your portfolio is your shop window display. If you’re not showing your best work out front, you’re not going to get people deeper into your store. And you don’t put everything in your window display — just the things that are going to attract the kinds of clientele you want.
I know a bunch of you are wondering over the title of this Book Notes post and thinking “This is supposed to be book reviews for artists, why would we read a book about reading literature?” Let me tell you why! This book is all about recognizing references and symbolism in literature. You know what else operates with symbolism and references to other works that have come before? Art! If you read this book and substituted “reading” for “seeing” and “writing” for “painting” it would work perfectly.
Confidence is a big issue. It’s taken on an almost magical quality. It’s definitely a buzzword. It makes things happen, makes people want to be near you, makes entering that roomful of strangers a breeze, right? Well, not necessarily. Confidence is often confused with extroversion, self-esteem, self-worth, and unfortunately with arrogance. So what IS confidence? And how do artists strengthen their confidence?
We live in a capitalist world, and we thrive on options. Our entire economy is built on choices. We do everything we can to “keep our options open” as long as possible. But I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Your desire to keep as many choices as possible is getting in the way of doing your best work.
I’m an Art Director, and I talk to artists on all experience and success levels. It’s really eye-opening to me that most artists have the same doubts, fears, and roadblocks — whether they’re just starting out or at the top of their field. I see the same patterns over and over, and I want to share my perspective with all artists, so they realize they’re all struggling together. After a few years of educating artists in Art Business, I’ve definitely noticed some patterns holding artists back. Are you stopping yourself from building the Art Career you want?
I’m an Art Director, and it’s part of the job to evaluate artists. I’ve seen a lot of artists succeed…and a lot more drop out of the professional art world. There are patterns that are easy to see from my perspective that are more difficult for freelance artists to recognize, so I’ve listed the top 5 ways that artists sabotage themselves here. Are you sabotaging your career?
There is no more dreaded piece of writing a creative has to do than the artist bio or artist statement. We’re fine making the work — but why is it so hard to articulate it? Often we’re much better at talking about our work in a group of creative peers, but we just freeze when we have to write it down. We can’t launch a project into the world without an About page, a Bio, or some kind of Artist Statement, so we’d better face our fear and get comfortable with writing about ourselves.
We struggle for so long in obscurity—constantly falling short of our ideals—that we get used to the feeling that we’ll never be good enough. We’ll never be as good as our idols. We’ll never be good enough to feel satisfied with our work. The development of an artist often takes so long, and can be so discouraging, that when we do finally start to be successful we actually can’t recognize it. This is called imposter syndrome, and it is more common than you think.