Fears are a normal part of life. We all have fears of one sort or another. As artists, we may fear about not selling or having creative block – not being inspired. We may be afraid of not being taken seriously, ridiculed for creating certain artworks and even have self-doubt. For commissioned pieces, we may be afraid we do not live up to our customers expectations. Many artists (especially on the internet) even have great fears of their artwork being stolen.
It is important to face fears head on. May be you remember the television show Fear Factor, which pits competitors in a contest to face some of their deepest fears. These may be fear of heights, fear of bugs, fear of the dark, and more. In every episode, the competitors faced a variety of fears. The one who overcome all of them usually won the grand prize at the end.
Being an artist may at times seem like an episode of Fear Factor. Along with the thing we love doing (creating art), we are facing the things we may hate. For some these may be dealing with the public, selling art, and everything which deals with business. But we have to learn to face some of these fears if we want any degree of success.
Lets start the discussion.
The best comments will be published below. If you include your name and artist website, we will include this as part of the comment. If you have an artwork you would like to show off, please submit your answers via this email: Artpromotivate at gmail dot com (this is an email address – change “at'” to @ and “dot” to . and leave out spaces)
What do you fear the most as an artist?
I returned to my artist -self later in life than I would have preferred. While I believe that everything I have been and been through makes me the artist I am today, I do feel like I missed out on years of the overwhelming sense of accomplishment and joy that I now experience every time I step into my studio. My "fear" is that I have so many ideas and things I want to learn and I will run out of time. I am compelled to create art, it brings me a joy and peace I cannot adequately express in words. Feeling the pressure of aging, every day I am not able to be in my studio making art or taking an online art class or sharing new techniques with artist friends all over the world, is time wasted and never to be regained.
Kelly L. Hendrickson
How do you get past these fears and overcome them?
One of the thoughts that keep me going.....I'm not as old as Grandma Moses was when she STARTED!! I think of her when I start to feel the downward spiral.
The second thought has served me well in all areas of my life...not just art. It is as true in my studio as it is anywhere else. "Do it afraid." I can't always make some fears disappear. But I CAN always overcome their power over me by just doing what I need/want to do anyway - in spite of any fear!
Kelly L. Hendrickson
One of my biggest fears as an artist in this world today has to be the extreme judgements people put upon each other and the things that make us all different from each other. In society, where diversity consistently grows, we have to learn to accept the differences and worth of others with an open mind, understanding and compassion.
I am learning overcome the critical stance of society by using my work as a platform to bring them face-to-face with some of these differences within society. I choose subject matter and imagery that seems unpleasant for mainstream society to think about, and therefore the individual people that have to deal with these issues are misunderstood, ignored in a sense. Society has become "aware" to disabilities, disease and tragedy as issues, but seems to fall short on actually allowing those affected to feel "normal" rather than pitied.
You raise a great question about fears - we all have 'em, and we have to figure out how to move past them to grow.
I'm generally not too fearful at the start of a painting because my go-to position is "what am I gonna learn from this one"? That helps me get through the ugly duckling stage of blocking in!
But commissions - or self-imposed commitments are another story!!!
I recently offered to paint a landscape to donate to a fundraiser for an historic Land Trust. But I'm a still life painter! So I gave myself a lot of pep talks and kept dug in. I didn't want to disappoint them and that is what pushed me past my fears.
In the end (after much anxiety and a bit of procrastination) I finished it and they were thrilled. And the painting sold at the highest price I've ever sold a painting! It was a great result for both the Land Trust and me. They made money to help renovate an old farm house and I pushed past my comfort zone painting a landscape that got a good bit of publicity. It was pretty scary, but well worth it!
Thanks for the opportunity to share my story- and my painting "Stone House Pump House"
When I began seriously painting and exhibiting many years ago, I did it with great confidence. I knew that my work was unique, and that I was eclectic. My work came from my heart and my soul. I have a strong art historical background so I knew that anything goes,so took criticism from the "unknowning" eye as a choice in artistic taste, but from contemporary art dealers or authorities who had constructive criticism, I listened... I was on a roll and painted day and night with full confidence. Then I had my accident which included a brain injury of the left and right frontal lobes.
Now there have been periods where I have painted successfully, but my greatest fear has been the lack of imagination and original ideas. The wonderful magical ideas that came to me in my dreams, as I walked down the street, that popped in my head in the most obscure places... That doesn't seem to happen anymore and it has made me feel so empty. Have painted...nothing too exciting but I continue to persue the artistic process with small projects and hope that this will help me face my fear of the void that I face.
Kaz Beattie (via Facebook) - I fear as I'm getting close to finishing a piece, something awful is going to happen to it. I get very protective over my paintings when they get to a certain stage. ;/
Bob Rowell (via Twitter) - I fear irrelevance due to nobody experiencing my work