Feeling pressure for making art? Just get f*cking over it!

Don’t let the pressure ruin it for you.

Like so many fellow artists, I used to take myself very seriously. I lacked self-confidence and considered my creations as something holy and untouchable. I even made up a rule that kept me from retouching a piece of work once I had signed it. For someone who is completely oblivious about the creative process, that might sound ridiculous, but in the artist’s mind, it totally makes sense. In mine, it did.

Comparing with others is not bad

Did I mention I refused to go out there and see other artists’ work because I would get so frustrated when I stumbled upon someone whose ideas were better, techniques were better and who actually made money out of their art? Where was my share? The fires of jealousy would strip me of all creativity. Fellow artist, do you not see how much pressure we put on ourselves for making art work? This is what to do with the pressure…just get f*ucking over it! Nothing is so serious…nothing!

Ask yourselves: why did you start making art?

Here’s the answer: because you f*cking loved it. Plain and simple. You loved it. And you kept doing it because you loved it and art loves you back. When nothing goes right, art is there and gives you meaning. When everything feels right, art is there to keep you going and smiling. Art is life. Life is art.

It’s your ego that ruins everything

Your ego is that annoying voice that keeps telling you that you’re special, that the world should recognize your talent, that people owe you recognition because you’re an artist etc. It rides along with fear, that tiny little voice that tells you you’re not enough, that you’re a fraud, that makes you doubt the value of your work and thus, of your own being. Ego is a very annoying little green imp wearing a crown, feeding out of what you think others might think about you. It makes everything about itself.

Life changing realisations about art

Here’s the great news: art has nothing to make of it, not in the long run, not if you are serious about making a living out of your artwork. Art is not about you. These are the key realisations I had while reading the book “Big Magic” (Elisabeth Gilbert) along with many life experiences, that helped me greatly in putting aside my fragile little ego, and made me much more confident about my work (and most importantly, about myself).

Brace yourselves, your ego will try to talk you out of this as fiercely as it can:

  • Let it be known that ideas do not belong to you. Ideas come from a gigantic magical flow of creativity somewhere in the universe that sometimes for no reason leaks our way and sends stuff in our heads (called “inspiration”).
  • If you don’t get it done someone else will. Don’t be upset, you’re not special.
  • Even if you do it, the flow of creativity might (probably) have leaked into someone else’s brain at the same time. It happens more often than you think. Once again, don’t be upset, you’re not special.
  • The final product doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to the person willing to buy it.
  • Your work has nothing to do with you, for you do not own ideas, and everything to do with you because you poured your whole soul into it.
  • Your work is important because it’s a piece of you, and also is not important, for nothing you do is likely to affect the future of mankind.
  • How people see your work has everything to do with them, not you. (beauty is in the eye of the beholder).
  • Enjoy every step of the creative process. It’s the only thing that really matters.

How’s it? Is it painful? Good. You’re on the right path. Read these sentences over and over until there’s no more pain. I promise you, it’s worth it. You’ll get a taste of something very dangerous: freedom.

 Starve your ego and start feeding your soul.

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2 thoughts on “Feeling pressure for making art? Just get f*cking over it!

  1. Hi Marilyn, I think almost every artist has gone through similar thoughts in their first steps of their career. It takes time and effort to build confidence. I agree that comparison with other artists can be demoralising at times but as you say, it is such an important element for the development of a beginner. Surprisingly, and I am now talking from personal experience, the easiest way to get over this feeling is to actually mingle with experienced artists, speak to them and get familiar with their ideas and approaches. It’s only then that experience is being developed and horizons broadened (as with all professions really).


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Super Marilyn….le livre que tu cites je l’Ai dévoré, tellement la lecture est facile, et le sujet pertinent! on en reparlera!

    Liked by 1 person

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