Thursday, August 2, 2018

Art and Self-Confidence - Feeling Your Art Is Garbage

A man's praise in his own mouth stinks? But what if your art actually is good? Artists often tend to be overly self-critical and lose sight of reality ...

Self-criticism is a core requirement for being a good artist.

Sometimes when looking at one's own art it does feel great. Yet more often than not, we tend to be overly self-critical and see our weaknesses rather than our strengths. Nikolai Gogol, for example, one of the greatest writers of Russian literature, is known for burning his manuscripts, including the sequel to his famous novel Dead Souls.

In my experience so far, most artists face this struggle, be it writers, painters, musicians ...

So what can we do about it?

Being Self-Critical Is Actually a Strength

To start with, I think we should realize that being self-critical is actually what has brought us so far. We didn't like the way the dialogues in our first novel turned out, the shading in our paintings was bad ... So we analyzed the problem, did our research and found a way to improve ourselves.

In fact, I believe self-criticism is a core requirement for being a good artist. People who are too confident about their skill usually don't feel the need to look for ways to improve. And so they don't. Or maybe just very slowly and only through regular, repetitive practice, which is good, but not enough for noticeable development. Because there's always a way to do what you do better. If you don't analyze and don't do research, you probably won't find them.

But Sometimes It's Just Too Much

Any medicine becomes poison if you take too much of it. This also applies to creative self-criticism. Yes, being able to see one's weaknesses is great, but one should also see one's strengths. Because this is where our self-confidence comes from to motivate us to go on and improve even more.

So what's important here is to never let reality out of sight. Because sometimes we see even weaknesses that aren't there or that are actually our strengths.

But how to we find out if our perception of our art is in line with reality or not?

Reality Check

Well, I believe that we should start with being honest with ourselves. We may see many faults in our novel, but still have the feeling that if we weren't the author we'd actually read and like it. Despite its flaws. We can compare our artwork to the artworks of other people and see that there are things we like in our own art better. With time we also gain experience and thus know what works and what not. This is why it's important to pay attention to the works of other artists in one's own genre: Doing so, we can analyze ideas, techniques and so on from the perspective of the audience.

One's own audience is also important for the reality check. True, the audience's opinion is highly subjective; but if there are many people who compliment the way you draw hands and you like your hands as well, then you probably actually are good at drawing them. Of course there will always be someone who does it better, but this is just the way things are: There are over 7 billion people on this planet. - It would be weird if there weren't people more skilled and talented than you.

Self-Confidence and Arrogance

Sadly, many of us grow up believing that a man's praise in his own mouth stinks. In reality, it only stinks if it's unjustified. Everyone who has a special skill or talent has every right to talk about it. I mean, how do you plan to convince people to read your novel, hire you and so on? How do you plan to convince people that you're good without telling them? You should also show it, of course, but showing usually works in combination with telling: You have to at least tell them that it was you who created all those amazing artworks they're seeing.

Many of us are afraid to sound arrogant, but this is only because we forget what arrogance means: An arrogant person believes to be superior to others without reason. Being self-confident, however, means to know what one is capable of and respecting everyone else, including people who are not on the same level as oneself yet. This is a great difference we all need to learn.

So stop hiding your light under a bushel and admit that your art is amazing!

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