Tuesday, June 26, 2012

An Artist's Fears

Blank. That is how I am feeling creatively at the moment. Tied with that, is fear. I'm feeling a lot of fear.

It seems I am in another round of self doubt and creative block. I've yet to find my style. My niche. There are so many options. So much you can do with fabric. Piece it. Collage it. Paint it. Distress it. Bleach it. Stamp it. The possibilities are expansive, and I have tried so many of them. I've still not committed to one (or even a few) of them.

I feel very confused right now, and I don't know where to go from here. Everyone always says to create for yourself, and not worry about what will sell. Right now, I suspect they are all liars that are just looking to reduce the competition they have for the art they create FOR others. (Okay, so I'm slightly cynical today.)

In all seriousness, most of my life has always been doing/saying things to make other people happy. To please them. Not upset them. I went to school for graphic design - the entire ideology is to create things that people will like. How do you move away from that? Am I really only making pieces I think others will like? I honestly feel as though I'm making things *I* like - and that is even scarier, because it's not working.

Rationally I realize that the deeper problem is fear.

Yesterday I shipped seven of my pieces off to The Yarn Gallery in Grand Rapids, MN. I met the store owner on a trip up there, she saw my website and asked if I would like to show some work there to try and sell. Busyness and fear (honestly, mostly busyness!) delayed the items getting there a month longer that I'd have liked.

It was a very uncomfortable process for me. Pricing them. Packaging them. Questioning the pricing. Sending it anyway. Now it is the waiting period. Will others like them? Will anyone buy them? Will the shop owner be appalled at the prices? Will she wonder, "Who does SHE think she is?"

This is precisely why I've never tried doing something like this before to be honest. I feel like no one will want to buy them anyways, so why bother to try and get them shown places. On top of, how do you approach places to do this? I was fortunate that a couple of friends introduced me to the owner at The Yarn Gallery.

Do all artist's have this much fricken self doubt? Will it always be like this? Is there a rule book somewhere that tells you how to shape and construct your art career? How do you know when you're ready to start approaching shops and galleries? Where else do you sell? Am I just not putting enough time into sales?

Universe, if you're listening, I really need some guidance here! Where do I go from here?


  1. Keep faith!
    Take one step at à time
    I love THE birdie piece by THE way

    I make my art for myself , I can easily say that ,because I have à paid job as well
    people usually love my work, but hardly anybody Buys' anything, too expensive.
    I really enjoy to enter my work in competitions.

    1. Thank you - this is one of my favorite pieces that I've done. :)

  2. Hi Stephanie! Nothing you are going through is unusual in the least. May I recommend that you look up some of the stuff written by Eric Maisel? He's a creativity coach, and addresses such creative tensions in his writings (book, blog, website, podcasts). I've done a couple of courses with him and while I haven't banished my doubts, I certainly manage them a little better. If you'd like to chat more feel free to contact me thru email off my site. Best of luck! Sam Hunter (I'm a woman!) www.samhunterart.com, www.huntersdesignstudio.com

    1. Thank you for mentioning Eric Maisel - I looked him up and I am starting to browse through his blog now and get a feel for him.

      p.s. Your hospital gown sections is fascinating!

  3. Hi Stephanie
    Waiting for the opening of my first solo exhibition, I was having some of the same self doubts. I think whenever we expose parts of ourselves by putting our work out there, it is normal to have some fear. The more positive feedback we get, the less our fears. Also, when I see all the new techniques to learn and try to incorporate, I try to remind myself that I don't have to do it all. Sometimes it helps to go back to basics. I just looked at your tutorial and I love that piece!! Don't give up. You are an artist.

    1. When is your opening? I hope it goes well. (I'm sure it will!)

      Thanks for the encouragement!

  4. Hi Stephanie,
    It's the age-old conundrum: WHY do I do this? Does art-making feed your soul? Could you live without it? If you answer Yes, and No! then you'll get through this phase quickly enough, notwithstanding unrelated stuff that might contribute to your anxiety.
    Here's a fun project: a visual dictionary of your favorite images and symbols. What do they mean, how have they changed, how frequently do you use them? Just doodle them in a notebook, enjoy them for their own sake, ponder them. YOU are the subject of your work, ultimately. Study and appreciate the beauty of YOU for a while. :) JS

  5. Hi Stephanie
    I just read your response to my comment (way back in June). The opening was in late June and was a positive experience. The show finished on August 18 and was well received. Sometimes we worry for no good reason. Keep on creating.