Artists can be prone to doubt themselves. Perfectionism can be n the way, as well as comparisons with others and fears of not having their works accepted by the audience. It is common for artists to work alone for several hours in closed studios and have no contact with the external world. This attitude can create a psychological distance between the artist and the people around them. Creating an art piece, the artist is showing part of his/her soul. It carries singular importance that many times are not understood by the general public which can also be a source of anxiety and self-doubt.
Those negative thoughts can get in your way when selling your art. They can spiral out of control and suddenly you are turning down a remarkable opportunity because you're too nervous or your internal monologue is saying you are not good enough.
Here are 8 techniques to help boost your self-confidence as an artist and creative entrepreneur and crush your self-doubt.
1. Stop comparing yourself to other artists
There is no doubt about how helpful social media can be to your artistic business. If used well it can support your work by presenting it to a larger audience without as much investment in time or money. However, it can also be the perfect place to stimulate comparations. Sometimes it can be discouraging to see people creating masterpieces overnight while you are working hard on your canvas for months. Don't let it happen!
Social media can create illusory realities that are not 100% true. Comparing yourself to an illusion will just let you down. Chances are, that there might be artists with better skills and techniques in the world. In the same way, you also might have better techniques than many others also comparing themselves to you. People are different.
Respect your pace and work hard to be better than you were yesterday and not better than people you see on your smartphone screen. Only focusing on yourself and your own practice will make you better.
2. Stop having such high expectations of yourself
All of us create expectations. That's normal. However, expecting higher rewards or recognition every single time you release an art piece can be frustrating. Usually, our plan doesn't go exactly as we wish. Obstacles can appear on the way and plans need to be changed adapting to the new circumstances. There is nothing wrong with that. Every time we fail, we are creating an opportunity to learn from it. However, if expectations are high it can be hard to accept the new challenge or let it go.
Be kind to yourself, and accept that sometimes things (and people) will disappoint you. Probably you will disappoint someone else on the way. But, the more you have expectations about these things, the more likely you’re going to be disappointed.
3.Take breaks and move around
Artists can spend hours and hours locked in studios working. That's the result of the passion they put into their work. But there is nothing worse to your body -- and health -- than stay in the same position for a whole day. Take breaks, move your body. Try to stretch once in a while, or go for a walk. Physical exercise can also help you to clear your mind to receive new inspiration.
4. Join a critique group
This isn’t for everyone, but it works great for some artists. Find a critique group either online or in your area and participate. It’s amazing what you can learn about your own work when you start to see it from someone else’s viewpoint! The things that stand out to you might not be the same that stands out to them.
5. Hit that send button
Write and send gallery exhibit proposals, event proposals, grant applications, collaboration requests, retail requests, and press releases to your local and regional media (newspapers, magazines, podcasts, radio, TV, blogs), etc.
It can be scary to put yourself out there, but without taking the risk you will never know what it could be. Send your material to as many people as you can, talk about your work with others, look for events when you can meet interesting people in your market. Most of the time network and promotion can do more for your career than a better technique or an amazing finished piece.
The more you do it, the easier it’ll become. You will hear no. Do it anyway. The more you hear no, the less it will bother you and the faster you can get to the yes's.
6. Recognize what rejections really is
It is not everyone who will love your pieces and enjoy your compositions. People are different (I know, I am repeating myself, but it could not be said enough). It doesn’t mean your work is bad. It doesn’t mean they don’t like you. It simply means what you’re offering isn’t quite right for them. For them. Not for everyone.
When you work with a determined niche you start to understand that it is important to have these people on your side. They are your target you want to please and from whom you want to receive recognition. All the others are secondary. Not because they are not important for you, but because they are different, so they also expect different things from what you have to offer. You will never please everyone.
However, inside your target market, it is important to be open to criticism. Reach out to them and ask how you could improve. This is a learning opportunity for you and a growth opportunity for your business. More than love or hate, people want to be part of the process. By asking them for advice you are also asking them to be part of your art.
The take away here is: first, identify the source of your rejection and if you really need to be worried about it; second, if you need, instead of freaking out alone in your studio, ask for help and be inclusive with your clients adding their opinions and ideas to your creative process. Everyone can grow from it.
7. Learn overall confidence-boosting techniques
There are many psychological techniques you can use to calm down and develop self-confidence. We need to remember that self-sabotage is 100% in your mind, so when you are in control of your mind, you are less vulnerable to its booby traps.
a. MEDITATE: Meditation can do miracles if it is constant. It doesn't mean you need to become a yogi and spend your whole day in a lotus position. Just 10 minutes a day can bring you a lot of benefits.
b. SUPERMAN POSE: This one I discovered in a TED Talk. Apparently, stand up with legs slightly open, heads up and hands on your hips can bring to your brain the idea you are in charge of the situation. Chemicals and hormones are released making you feel comfortable in seconds.
c. SOCIALIZE: The more you interact with other people, the more confident you will be when you need to interact with them to sell your art. Shyness is really common among artists, and the only way to fight it is to facing others and interacting with them. The more you practice, the better you will be.
d. POSITIVE STATEMENTS: In my coaching program I strongly recommend the artists create self-affirmations and repeat them in front of the mirror every single day. They are "I am", "I can" or "I do" statements that remember them how important and self-reliable they are. Some examples include: “I am strong,” “I am important,” “I am talented,” “I am capable,” and “I am worthy.”
8. Hire an artistic business coach
When we are going down a new path, it can be really helpful to have the support of someone who already had this challenge in the past. Art Business Coaches can help you to make assertive choices and identify pitfalls on the way. A coach should give you information about how to succeed in your career, but also made you feel comfortable and positive. It can make all the difference. The major part of having your own artistic business is determined for your right mindset. Information is important but the capability to developed a structure that helps you to motivate yourself day after day, well.. this is essential.
*the pictures have references to the artistic in alt text and they are links to the artists' platforms.