As artists, we have an innate want to be successful, and it can be tempting to put that as our #1 goal. The truth is success shouldn’t be your goal. It’s beautiful when it happens but it doesn’t always happen. Working on your craft, truly expressing yourself, improving, and challenging yourself. These are more important, and guess what? When you try to be your best and create from your heart, it will show, and you will naturally attract an audience that resonates with your work.
Making work that you love makes your work unique and eye-catching. It’s how you find your own personal style.
If you constantly chase algorithms and try to copy others’ styles because they are currently popular, you won’t have that special ‘wow’ factor in your work. Even if at this current moment the medium, colors, or style you love the most isn’t popular, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Just keep at it. Trends change and your work will only improve with time. Also, remember there are almost 8 billion people on this planet. They all have unique tastes!
When you create from a genuine place you prevent burnout.
I’ve evolved a lot over the years but I feel this pressure to be the person I’ve always been. Whenever I break out of the mold I don’t get the response I want on social media so it makes me feel like I have to stay the same, but I want change. For example, after drawing cute animals for almost a year for my book I got kind of tired of drawing cute animals. (This doesn’t mean I never want to draw them again, I just want to draw lots of things.) But I started the year with a prompt list of cute things to draw (plus I drew 5 more for a giveaway) and it felt kind of forced. It took me a while to admit it to myself, but I wasn’t enjoying drawing them as much as I used to. I had to force myself to try to finish the challenge, I mean it was only 10 prompts. But I didn’t want to. I ended up procrastinating and did the 8th one almost at the end of the month and then got a nasty stomach bug and my phone got water damage so I couldn’t record my process for reels like I always do. I took those as a sign to get off social media and rest. I felt relieved I gave myself permission to stop.
Rest is important. We all need a winter to feed our summer.
I’m re-evaluating my art style. I love art, but when forced it stops being fun. So, I want to create without sharing for a little while. I want to make ugly art, experiment, and play. It’s ok that I won’t be on Instagram. It’s ok that I need this. As artists, we’re always growing and we need to let that growth happen because that’s where beautiful inspiration comes from. We have to fill our well in order to give.
The thing is I started out only painting what I loved but with the pressure of success, it’s hard to continue evolving. I didn’t even realize I was making art for other people until I sat down and thought about it. It just crept up on me. I feel like this is why a lot of my recent art lost its pizzaz (at least to me) and I know a lot of artists go through this.
I’m so excited to make art fun again and I know the results will be awesome! I just need to give myself time in the cocoon before I become a butterfly.
If you also feel stuck and want to grow in your art again, but you also worry about your audience here are some tips we can both use:
- Follow your joy: Do what feels right in the moment. Do you love birds? Then draw birds! Do you want to try using a new medium? DO that! If you already have an established audience and aren’t sure how they’ll react, you don’t even have to share what you make. But my advice is to do it and not worry about how many likes you get. If your style changes over time, you will attract a new audience. So don’t worry about those unfollows, just keep being you, and new people who love the new you will come.
- Experiment, play, & try new things: If you follow your heart, you will make unique content. But how can you find your true style or things you love to make if you don’t try anything new? So don’t limit yourself and play, play, play! Follow your curiosity like you would if you were still a child! A lot of the time your audience will resonate with your artistic soul and would love to follow you for the ride! But even if they don’t it’s ok, you’ll attract new people that will. Stay true to yourself and play!!!
- Find new favorite artists. I always get so excited when I find someone new that I love. I buy a couple of prints and put them on my wall for inspiration. There are so many wonderful artists out there and the best compass for seeing what kind of work you want to make is to find work that you want to buy. Not because it’s popular, but because you absolutely freaking love it! My recent favorite artist is Sophie Mcpike. Her use of color, layering, and just the pure joy in her art is sooo beautiful. It makes me swoon and she’s inspiring me to get back into painting with acrylics and doing more landscapes.
- Take time to analyze and reflect on your work. Rate how much you like your old work and what direction you want to go into more. What words would you use to describe your old work and what new words do you want to add or remove? Is there a medium you want to use more of? A color? Taking the time to think about what you want to do more of will help you to know what to do. For example, I want to paint more vibrant acrylic abstract paintings on canvases.
- Make a secret sketchbook full of whatever you want that you don’t plan on sharing. I’ve heard the term of an ‘ugly art’ sketchbook for this too. But it doesn’t have to be ugly. Some of it will be and some won’t. That’s how sketchbooks should be. When you see a perfectly curated one online, to me that’s not sketchbook, but a portfolio. Nothing wrong with it but it doesn’t give you the freedom to play or make mistakes!
- Failure is a stepping stone to success. This one is the hardest, for any artist out there. Failure. Let’s all remember that every successful artist or person in any field, had to fail. They had to. It’s a normal part of the learning process. Failure happens. It’s ok. Get over it and try again. We need to remember that 100 years from now we won’t even be here. We’re not as important as we like to believe. We needn’t fear embarrassment. It’s mostly in our heads anyway. Nobody thinks about you 24/7, in fact they probably barely think of you at all. If you’ve ever taken a public speaking class you’ll remember that nobody really cared about your speech, they were all busy practicing their own and being terrified of making their own mistakes. So if you made one, no one noticed. The same thing applies to life. Everyone is too busy living theirs, so just create.
Have the courage to be yourself in life and in art.
I hope this mini art pep talk helps you to just go for it! Time is precious and we weren’t put on this earth to try to fit in. We each are unique and have a special thing that is completely us. We are here to express that. So, be yourself, and love yourself, and LOVE your art! You are one of a kind. In the wise words of Dr. Seuss:
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
Keep creating & growing!!