Monday, September 13, 2010

Never Apologize for Your Art

I have a magnet on my fridge that says, "Never apologize for your art." I have had this magnet since before I graduated from Webster University. It has become a mantra of sorts, and I find strength in the sentiment when I'm taking leaps of faith into the deep end, like when I'm pursuing taboo subjects, creating institutional critique works, offering social and/or political commentary or generally just being "out there".

But so many artists are unsure of themselves and their art. I've written about seeking approval and fear of rejection numerous times before. But still several artists that I know downplay themselves and their work. I continue to find people apologizing for their art. They seek approval, want to be liked, and fear that they and their art aren't good enough.

But making excuses only further justifies and reinforces existing insecurities. It is of no benefit to hide behind the words, "I'm not good enough" because that can become a way of life unto itself. Negativity will foster more negativity. If you're certain that you're not good enough, then take action and instead ask, "What can I do to become good enough?"

If you're insecure about technique, enroll in classes or workshops and practice, practice, practice. If you're insecure about concept, then sketch like crazy, work out your ideas in multifaceted ways and brainstorm, brainstorm, brainstorm. If you're insecure about your place in the art world, then go to galleries and museums, study other artists and research, research, research...

Most of all, if you're insecure about yourself, don't reinforce that by telling yourself and others that you're not good enough, that you're more of a hobbyist, that you're not an artist... There are plenty of other people out there who will jump on the opportunity to criticize, so it doesn't behoove you to be your own worst critic. Instead work to be someone whom you feel would inspire you. Take action and take responsibility for yourself and say, "I can do it!" and "I will make it happen!"

Action always speaks louder than words, and if you hold up what you want to be and strive to follow that example, you can feel better about yourself for having done something other than hide behind your insecurities. And, while getting out there and making it happen, you'll likely find that you're better than you were giving yourself credit for.

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