Do you ever doubt yourself, your art, or your abilities? You’re not alone. It’s easy to feel vulnerable when you’re promoting and selling an extension of yourself. So how do you build self-confidence that keeps the negative thoughts at bay?
After 15 years practicing psychology, who better to ask than Dr. Yanina Gomez. As co-founder of Art NXT Level – along with her acclaimed-artist husband Sergio Gomez - she works tirelessly to improve artists’ emotional wellness. From fighting impostor syndrome to challenging your comfort zone, Dr. Yanina shares 7 powerful ways artists can develop self-confidence that lasts.
1. Overcome the Impostor Syndrome
Quite a few artists are going through imposter syndrome. They have difficulty marketing and selling their artwork - and feel inadequate. I suggest artists recognize that no one knows their artwork as well as they do. Artists often forget that. The key is to understand you are the expert of your art, and be authentic. It’s as simple as that, but people can have a hard time absorbing it. They’re scared they’ll make a mistake. But, how can you make a mistake when you’re talking about your own creations? It’s impossible. Give yourself permission to be the expert. No one knows your artwork better than you do. In reality, whatever you say - as long as it’s authentic - people are going to believe it. How can people question you about your artwork when they don’t have the grounds to? There is nothing to be afraid of as long as you can verbalize your ideas.
2. Do Your Own Reality Check
It’s easy to let negative thoughts invade your brain - no one will buy my art, no one will care, I’m not good enough, etc. Identify those thoughts and ask yourself if they are valid thoughts. Ask yourself if you have evidence to support them. If you have no evidence, then they aren’t accurate. People attend your events because they’re interested in you and your art. So, just ignore the negative thoughts that invade your mind. Actively bring yourself back to reality and back to rational thinking. Get the negative thoughts out of your mind and think logically. People are there to see your artwork because they want to know more.
3. Challenge Yourself
Self-confidence comes when you prove to yourself that you can do it. Push yourself past the fear of failure and embarrassment by getting out of your comfort zone. It can be scary, but put yourself in situations where you have to grow. The more you do it, the more your fears will lessen. Whether it’s selling artwork, presenting to a curator, or marketing your art, put yourself in that uncomfortable situation. Challenge your comfort zone - but don’t forget to prepare yourself for it. Serial entrepreneur and professional inventor Chris Hawker says “Breakdowns are often the path to breakthroughs!” So, force yourself to design a new path and create a new future.
4. Find a Support Group You Trust
We tend to beat ourselves up about mistakes. Instead, try other things, be patient and be persistent. Some people are born with persistency and others need support. Decide who you are and what you need. If you need a support group to cheer you up or hold you accountable, find a few people who are willing to do this for you. A couple artist friends are an ideal support group. Ask them for help, brainstorm, and do it together. It’s a two way situation. There is nothing wrong with needing support. Give yourself permission to need and ask for help. And don’t feel guilty about it. Support groups build up confidence. You can hear other people’s perspectives, and you might find out that your own perspective is skewed. You might realize that you really can do it.
5. Compare Yourself to Yourself
There’s no reason to compare yourself to others because each person is unique. It’s like comparing apple and oranges. They are unique in shape, color, and taste so it doesn’t make sense. It makes self-worth contingent on achievement. You start saying I need to be better than so and so. There’s so much competition in our society and it’s not a healthy approach. It’s unrealistic to compare yourself to others who have different lifestyles, opportunities and unique talents. It makes more sense to compare yourself to where you were to where you are now.
Comparing your own growth leads to growth. Comparing yourself to others leads to doubt and a lack of confidence. So, give yourself goals - such as a six month or one year goal. Ask yourself what do you want to accomplish? Remember you have your own energy, your own opportunities and your own experiences. Embrace it. Focus on your own growth and inner self - not the competition.
6. Focus on the Process, Not the Failures
If something happens along the way that you didn’t expect or a mistake was made, analyze the situation instead of giving up. That’s when a support group comes in handy. Have conversations with them and analyze the situation together. Discuss what led to what you perceived to be a failure. Learn what not to do and how you can do better next time. That’s how you grow. You have to learn from the mistakes and challenges you’ve faced. If you don’t want the same outcome, then analyze ways to look at the situation.
7. Become a Lifelong Learner
It’s important to constantly educate yourself and think about your artwork and artist statement. Think about why your art matters and why people should care. Meditate on that and understand your own work. Put your ideas together in a way you can express them to others. And learn as much as you can when it comes to sales and marketing. You have to continuously learn and pursue professional development opportunities. Knowing how to verbalize your art when you deal with sales and marketing will only help you. Strive to become a lifelong learner and celebrate that.
And Remember, Reaching Confidence is a Lifelong Process
There are things in this world that I’m not confident about. I’m a psychologist, and I didn’t know much about the business of art back in the day. I co-own a gallery and there was so much I wanted to learn. I had to immerse myself and worked as a gallerist for a couple of years to learn about the business of art. I immersed myself fully in something outside of my expertise. At first I had zero self-confidence, but now it’s much higher. I really challenged myself. You have to continually take steps to become more confident. You need to be a lifelong learner and take action. It is a mindset, not a onetime goal. Mindsets have to be fed constantly. A goal is a one time event, and when you’re done you find another goal. Self-confidence is a healthy mindset - it has to be a part of you. Some people have to build it up and take the necessary steps to do it. So, take opportunities to enhance your confidence. And when you become more confident, people will look up to you. You make a difference in your life and someone else’s life. Self-confidence is a major, major component in emotional wellness. And being healthy - body, mind and soul - can only benefit your art career.
Want to Learn More from Dr. Yanina and Sergio Gomez?
This duo has more brilliant tips on being a successful and healthy artist on their website and in their newsletter. Check out TheArtistNextLevel.com, subscribe to their newsletter, and sign up for fantastic courses.
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