The last few days I have been hold up at my desk with a few ideas that I wanted to get some ideas on to paper, often I have many ideas swimming around in my head and I never get them down on paper. Most of the time I think to myself it will probably be a waste of time so I often stop myself from creating a piece of art work, because I lack the confidence in my skills. So this weekend I took the time to just create and off the back of this I often get asked how I have the confidence to create so much work. So I wanted to share a little run down how my art works and how you can implement it in your own art.
Don’t compare your beginnings to someone else’s ending
Lets begin with something simple, recently I have been creating a lot of work inside my sketchbook so when I share something online or on my Instagram you don’t see the work in progress, they often see the final piece so to begin with people often share they’re favourite pieces so bear that in mind. So my first tip to being more confident in your creativity is
Do not compare yourself to others in anyway
This is a similar point to above, if you feel that you are about to do that, Stop! walk away from your phone, internet what ever and try and get rid of that feeling, it won’t help the creative part of your brain you’ll instantly revert to the mind set of ‘I am not good enough’
Find what work for you
I have spent many years practicing what makes me happy in my work and I am still finding what works for me, if you know what you’re doing with you’re material then with that comes a confidence it’s as simple as that, I know that I can work watercolours and Gouache because I have spent 21 years using it. My Dad bought me my first ever watercolour set around the age of 6 and from that point I was so determined to get them to work for me (I was obsessed with Beatrix potter).
If you have no idea what works for you keep trying, experimenting with styles is the way forward.
Draw / create everyday
I am blessed I guess that my job means I can create everyday but it is still a job for me, I draw things for clients that aren’t what my passion is but I am still drawing, now even if you wouldn’t consider yourself to good at drawing and this is where you lack confidence, well get yourself a mini sketchbook a set of cheap pencils head to Wilkinsons or the works and just set aside ten minutes a day, when you’re on the loo, on your commute and just draw. Doesn’t matter what it is get. it. on. paper. Creating something everyday means that when it comes to ever having to share something with a client you have this arsenal of work, this doesn’t just stand true for artist, it stands true for illustrators, writers, musicians anyone that creates something.
Over time it’s like anything else you grow the confidence, it’s not going to come over night but I assure you it will come.
Don’t listen to anyone else
I was also blessed with parents and a grandparent that championed my creative side, I do not remember a time when I wasn’t drawing, but this doesn’t mean that they often understood my choices. my Dad still to this day doesn’t understand how or why I haven’t become a landscape artist, that’s what he wanted for me, it wasn’t my dream and I didn’t want to succumb to his wishes because those are his dreams and not mine. I am very stubborn, but to me drawing and creating goes hand in hand with breathing or eating so I think the obsession has helped me immensely with my confidence as it was pretty much like this is all I want to do with my life ‘I have to make it work.’
But often many parents don’t see the value in their children being creative, probably thinking there’s no money in it, don’t get me wrong it is hard, but there are so many ways into creative careers.
If people around you doubt your abilities you don’t have to listen, if you’re happy creating work for yourself fuck them, straight up. If we listened to every negative word that left peoples mouths, god this world would be a dull place.
Also part of me doesn’t care or give a shit too much about what others think of my work If I don’t create this someone else might and then I can’t complain because I didn’t even try.
What you should do with those negative words let them be your building block to confidence, stand on them and proclaim to the world I will prove to myself (important) that who I am and what I do for me is more important then a few hurtful words and then flourish.
Learn about people who have gone before you.
I grew up in a pretty poor working class London family, but my parent’s always made a point of telling us we could do anything, ambitious I know, but fuelled my imagination for most of my childhood I wanted to be a Giraffe, completely unrealistic but what it did was it meant I become bloody brilliant at drawing Giraffes. Then with the realisation that wasn’t happening anytime soon, I wanted to be an archaeologist finding lost cities, digging up bones, hunting out buried treasure I was pretty obsessed. I then wanted to be a war artist, yep someone who’s not a fan of violence, but it was the wonderful sketchbooks I saw that inspired me, But what I didn’t realised at the time was my childhood brain pretty quickly became a sponge to my surroundings.
My Dad would take us every weekend to somewhere fun and educational (he would save his wages) he would take all 5 of us kids ranging from 6 to 6 months old on the underground to the National Gallery, imperial war museum, the tower of London, Museum of London, The Tate, London Zoo the list is endless and because I spent those hours immersing myself with Van Gogh, Monet’s, Roman artefacts, Giraffes, Tanks and trench experiences, it set my imagination off. Now I know many people don’t have those chances but there are libraries filled with free books that will teach you to look at how others work, what hardships other overcame.
Also the internet now is a fab places for ambitious creative, read more, I can’t recommend enough Patti Smith ‘ just kids’ book she’s up there with Vivienne Westwood and Van Gogh as my idols.
Don’t think for one second what you have created is original, it’s influenced by so many factors and remember to embrace that and other people who have gone before you may give the confidence you need to create.
Some days I have that damn creative block and god do I hate myself for it, You question your ability you put yourself down the list of negative thoughts are endless, but what I have learn’t around these creative blocks amazing things can happen. This is often when I walk away from my desk and go in search of museums, scrap book, journal, blog, walk, gym and read. What’s important is having the confidence to say to yourself, ok my brain isn’t letting me work now, it will come back and I will be just as successful next time, I just need to have faith in myself.
surround yourself with good people
Sounds pretty simple right? It’s often tough to find your right people, when you are pursing something that is for you, for your happiness often people can get jealous, bitch and totally zap and suck the positivity out of you. Just stop hanging out with them, I have three very distinct times this has happened to me that I can recall. and if any of these ring true with you walk away be polite protect your magic.
Example 1 – Best friend pretty much through the whole of secondary school, now I wouldn’t say I was more ambitious, but I wanted more then to moan about things I didn’t have, so I worked got into art Uni and often she would tell me she was jealous she hadn’t, I was a better artist she would moan at me, when I got a new boyfriend she would often remark ‘How did you manage to get someone so good looking’ I never pulled her up on the fact she would make me feel shit like she was wearing down my confidence. Fast forward a few years, I was in a really bad place and she lorded it over me that she was now the more successful one and she joked about my depression. I stopped talking to her until I felt in a better place, I lost 4 stone and my blog and work were succeeding she didn’t like this and proclaim she didn’t feel like we could be friends anymore because I was prettier and more successful. This my friends is bullshit, those were her insecurities and I deserve better friends
Now I could share the other examples of insecure people with you but it sounds pretty similar to the above. My favourite part of using social media is the fact I have been able create true friendships, with guys like, Christina over at Olly and the bee, Natasha Nuttall, Emma Jane Palin, Ree Ree, and my good friend Nichola whoe doesn’t blog but should!
There are people out there that will champion you,
Be Braver with your choices.
Now I have run a business for a goo few years and it’s only really dawning on me that I don’t have all that much confidence in myself as a business owner I don’t push what I do because I am afraid of failing, I am as open as a business woman as I can be it’s been a tough 18 months and so many doubts about myself to succeed have creep in without my mothers constant kind words. But the other day I realised that it’s often my defence mechanism to not try or to procrastinate because I am fearful. But I have made a brave choice to reach out to a friend to help me create a new kick as portfolio that will hopefully represent me as an artist and a business woman. So when you sit down to think about what choices to take do it with confidence, it’s ok to be apprehensive you’re human, just don’t let it stop you.
Create a Dream client / stockist list
Yep, I finally bit the bullet and decided to be accountable for my dreams, often I say to myself I want to desperately work with a brand but I never follow through with actually perusing it. So on the way into town the other day I got my notebook and I wrote all of the clients I wanted to illustrate for & blog for, I see both of my jobs as often separate which is probably odd but I find it hard to merge the two.
So I got this list, I’ve worked with some of them before like Anthropologie both as an illustrator and a blogger but this time I wanted to add them to my stockist list, so there is me openly admitting I would be beyond chuffed if I had my worked stocked in Anthropologie.
You could do this for any creative pursuit, write a realistic (Important but please be ambitious) list and how in manageable chunks you could achieve this.
I also wrote that I wanted to have my work published in two different magazines which probably isn’t too ambitious but for me it is, Make it personal to you and do not fear failure. Break it down and you’ll be ok.
Stop with the number game
We all want to be up there in the hundreds of thousands of followers right? wrong looks great but engagement will be low and as much as it would look nice imagine all that money and all those deals? meh money’s great but selling my soul isn’t so enjoy the following you have because if you’re always complaining about the things you don’t have, you wont appreciate the thing you do. Simply be happy and ambitious.
Most importantly enjoy what you do
When your creativity and work becomes a chore stop, take that time to reassess why the hell you’re doing what you do, is it you’re not happy with the direction your work is taking, feeling sad about things going on in your personal life, bored of the work, lacking inspiration? If you have to keep going with a certain project because it’s for a client, it won’t be forever and maybe take some time to create something for you.
But at the end of the day remember to enjoy your me time, fill those sketchbooks up with things that make you happy and share whatever inspires you, because at the end of the day no one is you, you bring something special to the world so protect that magic.
So to sum up my thoughts, confidence in your work and creativity is nurtured and at times its hard to see your worth, hard to push past insecurities and a struggle to not compare yourself. But everyone struggles with confidence in all walks of life and imagine if people like Picasso, Orwell or anyone you look upto didn’t just throw caution to the wind and get that shit created then we would be living in a pretty dull world, so keep that work to yourself if that’s your thing, or share it openly but just know that we are all on a path that’s important to us so enjoy it and be a little bit more ambitious.