If you're a working artist today, or maybe you've just set out on this path, the art industry can feel intimidating. There are so many artists out there sharing their work online, from all over the world. They're publishing books, working with dream companies, and selling out of their products. They have thousands of followers on Instagram, or maybe they're just doing one simple thing you want to do: creating consistently.
I'm here to tell you that every artist you come across has their doubts, no matter how successful they seem. And with every success, there has been a failure - because no one has true success without failing at something first.
I wrote these mantas for you, for every artist or creative at any level. Because I know first-hand how it feels to doubt yourself and wonder if you should give up when it seems like someone is always one step ahead of you. (Here's a little hint: don't give up. The world needs your art!) Read on below.
1. What I make (or how much I sell) does not define who I am.
For me, this is the toughest one to believe. But believing this is key to confidence as both an artist, and bringing more joy to your life as a person. It's very easy to get caught up in followers, sales, or attention on your art if you feel like you don't have enough of it. It's also easy to get swept away on a high when things are going well! But imagine how it could feel for you if life as an artist wasn't so emotionally up and down, and up and down again.
Celebrate your successes and move on. Acknowledge your struggles and move on. Try to approach them with a neutral stance after those initial periods of letting yourself feel. This will help you in the long-run, for example if a project doesn't go well. You'll be able to accept it, learn from it, and keep going, all while knowing it doesn't define you.
2. Comparing myself to others serves no one.
You've heard of community over competition, right? That's a good one. How about we start thinking about courage over comparison? Or confidence over comparison?
With so many artists visible online, it's easier than ever to compare ourselves to each other. But if you start with the mantra above, it will feel more natural for you to remain confident in yourself when you see someone doing something you want to do. Find the courage within yourself to say hey, that person has had their struggles and has taken their own steps to get there. Feeling resentment or jealousy isn't fair to them or to yourself. Have the confidence to know that with consistent effort, you will get there too.
3. Small steps are big moves.
With so many tasks ahead of you to reach your goals, it can feel insurmountable. Breaking everything down into smaller steps to reach that bigger picture, is the most efficient path to take. When I say break them down, I mean really, really small steps. For example, instead of "sell a collection of paintings", start with "take a walk for inspiration". See how simple, and more joyful, that is?
The smallest steps are the biggest moves, because they are the foundation of everything.