5 big lessons I've learned as an artist
Being an artist can be really scary and fun all at the same time. When you first start out you find yourself in a space of overwhelming anxiety (at least I did). What should I make? Why am I making it? Am I a painter or a photographer? Is it good enough? Can I call myself an artist? And on and on.
It can be seriously daunting, but it doesn't have to be.
Here are 5 majorly big lessons I have learned that truly changed everything.
Lesson 1: Don't compare yourself.
It can be really hard when you're online and seeing all of these amazing artists out there. They all seem to know more and have better ideas. They really have their sh*t together, why can't I get mine together? Why?! WHY?!?!
Seriously, STOP. It's great to look at other artists for inspiration, but the fact is that you are running your own race here. Monet and Andy Warhol were both equally amazing but had very different styles, voices, stories to tell and didn't get there the same way. That's ok and its ok for you too. Your work has value, just as you have value. Make your work and stop the comparison.
Lesson 2: DO the work.
For years and years I did maybe one artwork every 6 months. I thought of myself as an artist, but didn't really make the time to do the work. I did it when I felt like it. Then about a year ago I decided to do a 100 day series and make a new artwork every day for 100 days. Not only was this seriously challenging, but it also opened my eyes to one major fact. Talking about it isn't the same as doing it.
You have to realize that the more work you do the better. Every artwork is more practice. You need to work in a variety of environments and circumstances. Yes you need to work while you are sick and tired and its too loud or too busy. You need to stop focusing on "feeling" like it, quit your whining and kick some *ss. Seriously!
Lesson 3: Be brave enough to be yourself.
Ok we get it...pour paintings are cool, but do you really want to be just another pour painting artist? You need to find your own voice and start from there. Doing what the crowd is doing is not going to set you aside as anything but another one of "those" artists.
Be original. Now, this may take some time to figure out and you may detour along the way (I sure have). But the point is that in order to give ANY value to this world you have to stop taking the easy way. You have something to say, so say it. How you ask? You need to figure out what you like doing best. What is your favorite medium? Check. What do you like in this world? Check. Who do you want to speak to? Check. Answer the tough questions, even if it takes 10-20 years...its worth it.
Lesson 4: Don't listen to naysayers
I spent the majority of my young adult life only looking to others to validate what I was doing. If they doubted it at all I started looking for something new. The problem with that is, that I was searching for validation from people who had no experience or knowledge in art. They had never made or sold anything and had no sense of the art world landscape.
You have to believe in it and you have to stick with it. If you love it, then do it. You can take a moment to sit in a quiet space and just listen to your truth (or your heart). What is it saying? If you know without a doubt, then stop looking to others. You will find that, by listening to others you get way off course and waste a ton of time. And based off of what? Is there any fact to what they are saying at all? Let me ask you this, when was the last time you knew of a starving artist?
Lesson 5: It takes time.
This is the thing. We have all heard of the ones who rise super quick in their careers, they are mythical creatures starring in their own fairy tale of yore. Yes it happens, but more people find it takes some time. It takes struggle and failing. Yes, failing. If you are failing and getting back up, you are doing it RIGHT. To fail is to learn. Don't take a slip and fall and just give up. That's stupid. We all have to start somewhere and its not about starting off absolutely perfect. You have to practice your landing to get to perfect.
So get out there! Don't wait until everything is just right. Realize that its a journey. You start where you are and you find your footing along the way. Starting is where most people stop. They can't get off the bench, they just sit on the bench talking. You have to get over failing and imperfection and begin. Take those first steps and then take a few more and so on.
Hope these lessons have spurred on some hope and soothed that savage beast, fear. Fear is so immobilizing. It's tragic and it ends more peoples careers than ever these days. Fear is the enemy of art and we need to stop him.
You can do this. You know it in your heart, its your truth. Now why are you still sitting here?