Updated: Jun 11, 2019
Do you feel like you are running away from your “style” for fear of getting locked into something you’ll eventually grow out of?
I can totally understand that fear.
A friend of mine commented that my new work feels less formulaic and that it seems like I am exploring more of the artist within.
I responded that I feel like I’m uncovering a voice that is all mine, and by virtue is impossible to replicate. Not that I was “lying” before, but I got to a dead end with what I was able to say in it. Every part of the older work is more surface-level, leaving me with an urge to go deeper.
One of the things that we discussed was the idea of comfort and safety. We make assumptions about what is expected of us as artists. Although we as human beings appreciate comfort and safety for ourselves and our loved ones, we rarely ask for that in the artists that we admire.
What are some adjectives that describe the artists we look up to?
Honest? Bold? Innovative?
And people tend to get bored of comfort and safety in creative pursuits, don’t they?
Once we understand where the source of the fear is, we can start to move beyond it.
This fear manifests itself in a concept known as “Imposter Syndrome.” Heard of it? It is the psychological phenomenon where one believes that they are not as competent as everyone around them believes they are, and that one day they will be discovered as a fraud.
In my experience, anyone who is involved in a pursuit of improvement such as learning to paint has it to some degree. It is a perception problem more than a disease. In fact, the largest group of people who DO NOT suffer from it are those who are actual fraudsters.
One of the best ways to get past it is just by learning that there is a term for those feeling that I bet you have. And from there, learning that you are far from the only person who suffers with it.
For me, one of the things that held me back was Imposter Syndrome mixed with a fear of success; more specifically: reaching a new level of success would change my life in a way that I couldn’t handle, and that I would fail at keeping it together.
Whether or not this is true(and I suspect that it is not), I should allow myself to take on that responsibility and find ways to manage it, rather than run away from it.
If you feel like you are suffering from Imposter Syndrome, consider this:
If you are truly exploring yourself in your work, you are acknowledging that you are a total human being complete with a kaleidoscope of emotions and thoughts. Do your best to share yourself without self-judgment, because it is impossible to be a fraud in that way. In this way, people will notice your light even better than you will be able to see it in yourself. Trust that your art will have the merit that your viewers express of it, because they will see your true spirit in it, even though you won’t always see clearly during the creation of it.
It’s in this honest self-expression that you will continue to evolve. It will be impossible to be locked into a style because you will be able to move fluidly when you’re tuned into your artistic voice. This will spring forth a geyser of creativity that considerations of “style” would crumble trying to contain!
Can you relate to feeling like an imposter in your work? Let me know in the comments how you feel. Know someone who you think could benefit from this message? Feel free to share with them!