I am sure that you have heard the tried but always true saying, “Inspiration is were you find it”, but what if you’re having trouble finding a source of inspiration.
Everywhere around you, popular culture conditions you to believe that if you don’t do it “BIG” it isn’t worth doing.
If you don’t capture some huge monumental event or make a historical breakthrough, then the art you produce isn’t worth doing.
While we all would like to give into the “I’m not doing it “BIGGER” yet so therefore it’s not better” despair, we need to remember that life is not full of “BIG” events, it’s full of many “small” ones.
These small events like spare change in your pocket may not seem like much at first, but they quickly add up to make the “BIGGEST” event you will ever experience, your life.
You can gain both inspiration and insight if you pay attention to the “little” things that surround you.
It’s these “little” things that people cherish, though they are often overlooked even forgotten.
The story behind the picture featured above is a simple one.
A family excursion to the local Dollar Store led to the search for a familiar object to photograph.
Initially, we had decided to pick up some plastic sandwich bags and various other items we would need for the weeks chores.
When we walked in, we headed for the far left of the store.
Measuring cups, plastic ladles, and chip clips lined the isle.
Nothing really struck me as interesting until “it” popped up right in front of me.
The small transparent plastic napkin holder sat on the bottom shelf.
I picked it up instantly examining the many colors shining through it’s beaded surface.
This was the object I was going to photograph.
To the undiscerning eye it was just a cheap picnic napkin holder, but I knew it had potential.
I could choose to see it as a napkin holder and pass it by, but I decided to make it my subject.
The napkin holder would represent more than just a napkin holder, it would serve to deliver a message about the beauty and wonder in common objects and everyday life.
It was my personal challenge to make this common object interesting.
I had to give it life.
I had to help others see the aesthetic value of what would otherwise be considered disposable and forgettable, because if they could do this with a common object, they could learn to approach their lives and the people that they met with appreciation and gratitude.
A fellow artist and photographer, Misty Dreamer 10, tweeted a picture of a beautiful sunset with the message that everyday was beautiful you just had to choose to see it.
Artistic inspiration is all around us; it is in common objects, our relationships, nature, our pets etc.
Marisa D. Aceves. Satellite 2 Valley 1. Digital Photography
You’ve been surfing the web and combing the pages of countless art publications looking for the perfect opportunity to showcase your work.
You know that you have a limited amount of time to get your jpegs and artist statement together to send to a handful of promising juried exhibitions.
As you prepare your entry, you can feel the anxiety begin to build.
Will it be good enough?
Do you have enough experience?
Have you met the requirements for each competition?
One little doubt is added to another and another.
Then, just when you’ve begun the baby steps to reaching your goal of increased visibility you do something stupid…
…something completely and totally irrational….
You decide not to enter.
The opportunity is gone within a couple of days, but the self-loathing and internal brow-beating can go on for weeks.
Finally, you come to realize one small yet important fact that you have deliberately chosen to ignore: You’re your own worst enemy.
We want good things for ourselves; We have an innate desire to share our work with others. So why do we consistently do things to kill our chances for success?
There are as many different reasons for engaging in self-sabotaging behaviors as there are self-sabotaging behaviors. Self-sabotage in the arts in not a unique phenomenon. It seems to cross professions and is an otherwise equal opportunity problem.
So how do we know if we have a tendency to self-sabotage and what can we do to address it . Here are seven warning signs that you may have a problem with self-defeating behaviors:
1. Procrastination- We have all been a party to procrastination at one point or another. However, when it becomes a habit and an excuse to avoid things and people associated with our job (that make us uncomfortable) it can keep us from the work we need to put in to achieve our career goals. If you know that procrastination is a problem, write a list of all of the goals that you would like to achieve. Break these goals into smaller tasks so that you don’t get overwhelmed. Set up a daily and weekly schedule for working on these smaller tasks. If it helps, keep a monthly calendar with the tasks for that particular day written in the space for each day of the month. If it is a social problem and you are avoiding seeing people within your industry, friends and family, try to take small steps to expose your self to more people. Join a local arts council etc. Learn from good friends who can help you understand how to successfully communicate with people.
2. Negative Self-Defeating Thought Patterns- Sometimes we punish ourselves when things don’t go our way (opportunities fall through), people we love disappoint us, or we simply fear the unknown. The problem with repeating negative thoughts about ourselves and our situation/s is that eventually, we start to believe our own hype and those destructive thoughts eventually become actions. Generally, the negative self-sabotaging thoughts we have about ourselves have a deeper underlying cause that we need to address. Try to find out the real reasons for your negative thoughts about yourself and your abilities. Is it fear of failure? Is it fear of rejection? Once you are able to positively identify the areas that are emotionally difficult for you, you can begin to make a plan to move forward in these areas so that they no longer serve as emotional triggers.
3. Difficulty Handling Emotional Stress- When people correct you or make negative or hurtful comments do you automatically become defensive? Do you make excuses or shutdown? These could be signs that you have difficulty handling emotional stress. Instead of falling into self-destructive habits like drugs, alcohol etc. to deal with the emotional stress, consider this: Is their criticism valid? Who is making the negative comments and why? We can never completely avoid emotionally stressful situations. All we can do is learn to deal with them in a positive, mature manner. There may be times, when we have to fix a problem that is due to our own lack or responsibility. Other times, the problem lies with the individual or individuals making the negative comments; it is not our problem to fix.
4. Dysfunctional Relationships- As I have mentioned before in a previous post on stress, there are some people who care more about themselves than they do about you. Their negative decisions and self-destructive behaviors can often effect you and the way that others see you. In the course of your relationship with them, you find that you are spending all of your time trying to fix their problems instead of working to solve your own. This game can lead to a load of resentment. Sometimes, we want influential friends or a career affiliation so badly, our “neediness” makes us an easy target for abusers and users. Inside we feel that something is wrong, but we purposefully ignore the warning signs. There is also a reverse example of the aforementioned negative relationship, where we have unrealistic expectations of the people that we know and love. We may place an unnecessary burden on them to “keep us happy at all times”. When this scenario inevitably fails, we lose our cool and they lose us permanently. Don’t rely on others to make you feel loved, happy or worthy. Treat others with love and respect. When they don’t reciprocate, politely and calmly wish them well and let them go on their way.
5. Entertaining Negative Past Events That Make You Angry- Constantly reliving the past doesn’t give you hope for the future. What has happened has happened. It is officially over. To allow yourself to remain angry about something that has happened in the past automatically gives that past event or person unnecessary control over you and your future happiness. Whenever you find that this is happening, move from where you are. Try to engage in another activity like reading or a hobby that you enjoy. Watch a television program that you like. Call a good friend or family member on the phone and start a great conversation. Do not allow yourself to entertain these past events. Calmly tell yourself that the problematic situation has already occurred; you are not going back in time to fix it. Tell yourself that you have already decided to move on. If this method doesn’t work try writing down the reasons why that particular situation made you angry? On paper tell the person or persons involved what you would have wanted to tell them. Don’t hold back. Now rip the paper into shreds and toss it in the trash. Give yourself permission to let it go forever. It may take some time and practice at first, but all unprofitable habits can be conquered with time and effort.
6. You Blame Others- Sometimes, it really is their fault. Other times, it is simply our own lack of action or bad habits that eventually bring us down. If we continue to blame others for our problems, we develop a bitter victim mentality. It gives us the perfect excuse to avoid the change we need to make a difference in our lives.
7. Inability To Commit To Specific Goals- We all face an uncertain future. No one really knows what will happen tomorrow, but if we work hard and prepare we have a better chance of succeeding. Often we find that at the core of inaction is fear. We can experience fear about the future or about wether or not we can meet the goals we set. Nevertheless, we have to define our goals anyway so that we know were we want to go and what we want to achieve. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish with your work. Boldly set about making a list of goals you would like to achieve. Be realistic with a keen understanding of your present abilities and knowledge. Place these goals in an area where you can see them so that you are constantly reminded of your intentions. While your goals may change over time, it is good to have your goals in front of you. In this way, you can monitor your actions to see if they are helping or keeping you from reaching your goals.
While this article doesn’t begin to cover all of the self-sabotaging behaviors that exist, it does help to identify some common ones that may be directly effecting your business. Like many other problems, time, consistency and patience pay off.
There’s nothing like coming up with something that is considered wonderfully creative (maybe even genius), but what happens when stress from outside factors gives your otherwise squeaky wheel of creativity a swift kick in the rear?
Many of us would prefer to avoid the topic of stress because basically, it stresses us out. However, coming to terms with job related stress is a necessity for our mental health, physical health and the health of our business.
Coming up with a helpful list of creative solutions to combat art job stressors ensures that everyday annoyances and career disappointments won’t get the best of you. Keeping a list of de-stressors available doesn’t mean that you’re weak, it simply means you’re organized, self-aware and prepared to deal with life’s unexpected complications. Here are 20 strategies to help you overcome negative stress and set you bacon the road to calm, clear and creative:
1) Refuse to fret needlessly over things you can’t control – We cannot always determine the outcome of certain events. While showing up prepared to meet life’s challenges increases you chances of success, it doesn’t guarantee you’ll always win the prize. Do your part to the best of your ability. Then make the conscious decision to focus on something else.
2) Go ahead and take the occasional break; it won’t kill you – Some of us agree to become workaholics because we have fallen into the false belief that if we allow ourselves a little break, people will think that we’re lazy. Slacking off aside, proper breaks often help to you to “reassess the situation” so that you can approach your work with a fresh perspective
3) Quit playing the Comparison Game- Not everyone’s circumstances, level or talent or experience is the same. So why even go there. Instead focus on learning valuable skills to help you improve. Each day, approach things with your best effort.
4) Don’t take on too many commitments- Consider the amount of work you can safely handle without if affecting the quality of your work, health or relationships.
5) Rely on the support of friends and family- Don’t neglect the people that are there to encourage you. Knowing that there are other people that have at one time, shared your aggregation helps you to realize that you are not alone.
6) Don’t let others put unnecessary pressure on you or steal your joy- Sure their are bullies out there in every nook, cranny and profession, but why give them your day or your week. People have their own agendas. It is very easy to sucked into their manipulations, but is it good for you? Learn to politely say no to things and people that you know will harm not help you.
7) Stop sharing your problems with people you don’t know- Sometimes we set ourselves up by giving others the ammunition to use against us. Remember that art is often a “cutthroat business”. Sadly, some people will use your weaknesses, worries, and fears against you. They naturally do what they believe is necessary for their own survival and benefit, not yours. With the exception of sharing with the most trusted family members,friends and professionals, keep your mouth shut and your ears open.
8) Curb multi-tasking; it’s overrated- Everyone loves to say I accomplished all these things in a short space of time, but when the quality of your work and relationships suffer, it’s time to slow down and cut the number of tasks that you normally perform in half.
9) Don’t get stuck in the past, stay in the present- So many of us operate on what we used to know rather than on what we currently experience on a daily basis. If “old tapes” from the past are preventing you from making better decisions in the present (ex decisions that have the potential to move your career forward), mentally seal these negative thoughts in a time capsule, bury it, and never look back.
10) Concentrate on learning, not winning- When you concentrate on learning concepts instead of always winning prizes or accolades, you remove the emotional stress of always having to best others as well as yourself. The positive result of this is that doing so can add additional interest, vitality and depth to your artistic vision.
11) Don’t forget to ask for help- It’s O.K. to pass certain tasks on to others that can do these tasks faster and more efficiently. Then, you can dedicate more time to your art and your business plan.
12) Don’t place all of your hopes and dreams into one possibility- This could be a recipe for depression if you’re fist plan goes bust. Instead, concentrate on coming up with more than one plan, gradually adjusting to life’s challenges. In other words, be flexible.
13) Stop missing out on sleep- Getting some much needed “shut eye” decreases stress and helps to improve your overall well-being. When you suffer from lack of sleep, social, physical, and cognitive abilities are impaired. Sleep makes you more productive.
14) Don’t focus on all the things that could go wrong; instead plan ahead- Expect the unexpected and make plans for how to deal with difficult situations that might arise.
15) Address the areas that are causing you stress- For example, if you stress over money, try to come up with a budget. If you stress over transportation, research the different modes of transportation in your area. When you begin to see that their are reasonable solutions to your problems, your stress level diminishes.
16) Encourage others and encourage yourself- When you help others as well as yourself, it improves your mood and outlook.
17) Don’t try to do things all at once- Breakup large tasks into smaller goals so that you don’t feel overwhelmed.
18) Don’t be oversolicitous- Helping others is admirable, but when you take it to the extreme, you become “wait-staff” minus the paycheck. People begin to disrespect you and even take advantage of you. This can lead to excess pressure and resentment as you begin to feel used and unloved. Be generous with your time and gifts, but don’t become a doormat for users and career opportunists. Let others know you have limits.
19) Spend more time with positive, caring people- Their positive outlook and behavior will rub off on you and eventually become a good habit.
20) Avoid users and narcissists- When you invite users and the self-obsessed into your life, the only thing you find time for is them. The only thing they find time for is them. See the pattern. Treat them with respect, but don’t get involved.
Keep these items close at hand. Use them as an important part of your de-stress arsenal. If you feel yourself slipping back into old habits, don’t fall into self-blame. Reconsider the situation. Respond accordingly and get back on track. Remember that positive life changes take time.
Let’s face it, when it comes to creating art, sometimes we encounter a serious mental or emotional block.
When we’re desperate for answers to our general lack of enthusiasm and productivity, we search the internet for websites, blogs, art magazines etc. that are willing to address this issue.
Eventually, we discover a general pattern in the advice that we receive from some of these sources.
This particular advice is as follows: “Always show up each day to work in your studio. Don’t be afraid to play with your materials to get over the fear of creating art.”
However helpful this advice may seem, it is only useful if you consider one very important point:
All the playing and experimenting in the world won’t help you unless you create with intention.
What is “creating with intention?”
When you create with intention, you create with a specific artistic goal in mind before you begin experimenting with your materials.
This particular goal will help you to define how and in what way you play and experiment with your materials.
For example, let’s say that you want to create a series of urban landscape paintings, but you are unsure as to what colors that you want to use. You might play/experiment with color scheme in order to decide what type of mood that you wanted to convey with your work. Executing small painting studies with several different variations of either warm or cool colors might help you to achieve this goal. Painting studies might also be used to determine which composition you find most interesting or pleasing etc.
In these two examples, “playing/experimenting” would be considered effective in determining the final version of your urban landscape paintings.
In the above example, I used painting, but this same concept could be applied to a variety of different mediums, sculpture, photography, drawing and digital art.
There are some people who say that it is “freeing and fun” to just paint or create without any worry or concern about the end result, but I disagree with them. Sooner or later, you will be driven to seek meaning and purpose in your work.
When you finally do decide to create work that you want to share with the world, you will find that you can’t do so without both an adequate understanding of the basic foundations of all successful art (line, form, shape, composition, etc.) and a specific goal in mind.
Creating without intention is to create without purpose. While that may have it’s momentary joys, creating with intention, (though sometimes challenging) is far more rewarding.
If you have any questions about this post please let me know, I’d love to hear from you!
*Author’s Special Note: Legitimate content marketers, businessmen and women who sell great products and write helpful articles should not think that I am targeting this rant towards them. I am not. Only I am sick and tired of all of the charlatans and conmen that give anyone even trying to run a legitimate business a bad name. They populate the internet spreading their dangerous seeds of deception, living off the backs of desperate people. Quite frankly, they deserve to know that consumers do not appreciate their scams or improper use of internet real-estate .
Advice should be helpful.
When you look for information about how to increase your business outreach using social media, how to increase blog traffic to your site or how to sell your art and creative product/s you just want to know one thing….
Is there anybody out there that understands your individual frustrations, your perceived internet marketing agony!
There’s nothing like searching all over the internet for that special bit of information that you hope is going to change your world immediately.
The scenario almost always begins like this: You spot what appears to be a helpful article on the first two pages of a search.
This article speaks to you and appeals to your need to solve a marketing problem that you just can’t seem to grasp.
It has a juicy, irresistibly clickable headline ..so you click the attached link in the hopes that this time,
you’ve found something both useable and shareable.
Ahhhhhhhh…….dream on folks. The majority of the time, what you receive in return for your click is just more of the same advice that you’ve read a hundred other places.
If it is useful information, it is either cloaked in metaphor and symbolism or it uses technical language and involves plug-ins that will take a week or more for the average person to figure out (in both cases, you need an interpreter).
So what are we to do?
Stop reading and tweeting it!
Knowing all of this, how many times have you tweeted these cryptic articles anyway just to fill somebodies “tweet something useful” advice.
“Well, I’ve got to tweet something,” you say to yourself, but really you know darn well that it won’t help your business campaign or bring people to your website. The only one benefitting from your social media sharing is the person that originally posted the article.
These experts of persuasion successfully convince you that somehow by continuing to follow their advice, that you too (with enough hard work and dedication) can experience similar financial independence.
It sounds like yet another pyramid scheme, doesn’t it.
While you look like a social media dummy, they levitate over everyone else’s heads, whirling about some karmic poppy field..occasionally touching down to bless their dutiful subjects/followers with bits of wisdom and the occasional nudge -wink of encouragement.
Sometimes, they will pull out a chosen apprentice or two that they strategically plucked from the internet trenches as a sort of testimonial to their coaching success.
Ask yourself, if taking their advice and applying it in real time was that easy wouldn’t everyone else be in the same position????
There is another thing that people willing to take their advice might want consider : If they give out all the information about how they became successful at what they do, wouldn’t they be giving away that steady, reliable source of income by increasing their competition?
Why would they do that?
Maybe the source of their income is the people buying their packages which gives them a cut.
While there is nothing wrong with paying them for their research, you need to go in with “Your eyes wide open.”
Are they aware of some secret knowledge that the rest of us do not have access to?
Hmmm…maybe… or perhaps they’re just excellent copywriters who know how to capture your attention and make you believe that they have something special to give you that you just can’t get any place else.
But can you?
Yes you can, it’s just not always going to be presented in as entertaining a format.
Right about now, you are probably asking yourself, where can I get truly helpful information that doesn’t just entertain me and convince me the same information I’ve been receiving is some new insight?
Let me get back to you on that one.
I have a feeling that if I do find the answer, it will ultimately end up sounding something like this…
There are several helpful articles on the internet with great insight, but the people writing them are not always the most articulate or the most computer savvy. Many still struggle with how to write strong copy, as this is a skill that requires a great deal of practice. Finding them is like finding a needle in a haystack because they still haven’t figured out how to optimize their blog for search engines. Nevertheless, useful content does exist for your business, it just does’t always come in the sleekest of packages.
Remember there’s a lot of good advice out there, just don’t be so desperate to make next month’s light bill that you forget that success happens over time not overnight.
Perhaps you’ve always dreamed of pursuing another medium like branching out into mixed media work (ex. mixed media painting, mixed media sculpture, installation etc.) or alternative media (ex. video, digital art etc.) but every time that you dared to consider a direction less familiar your head suddenly fills with mental movie clips of naysayers, tremendous obstacles and absolute failure to succeed.
As if this were not enough, your personal artistic adventurer/explorer is further quashed by exhibition deadlines, less than stellar time management and a host of weekly family activities.
Does this mirror your present situation?
If so, here are some suggestions that will help you keep your sanity, manage your time, and stop the insecure thoughts that are holding you back:
SELF DOUBT THOUGHT/THOUGHTS #1: I know absolutely nothing about the new medium/mediums that I want to work in; if I attempt to produce a piece of artwork using this medium/mediums, I’ll just screw it up!!!
A. Research The Medium You Plan To Use For Your Piece
a1. Research the history of the medium
b1. Research the application of the materials or various techniques that can be applied when using these materials. (For example if you are a photographer researching ceramic sculpture because you wanted to do a public project using ceramics as part of your installation piece , you might research certain techniques used in ceramics like slab construction, coil construction or carving clay).
c1. Research art pieces that have used this medium/mediums. You may want to research other artists who are experts or specialize in using this medium/mediums. Take note of the works that have the most impact. Ask yourself why?
B. Enlist help or Outsource
b1. Research artists and professionals that have experience working with the medium/mediums
c1. Try to make contact with these professionals and ask them what their rates are? What do they charge for employing them to help with certain tasks or parts of the piece. When you are comfortable with the price range that is within your budget, then communicate with the professional about what you want to do with the project you are pursuing. What is the piece about? Is the work you need done simple or does it require a high level of skills? The better you communicate what you want and need the professional to do, the easier it will be to complete the piece.
SELF DOUBT THOUGHT/THOUGHTS #2: How can I create work in another medium if I don’t have the budget?
A. Start Small
Who says that you have to create a huge, life-changing piece. When you create a small (tester piece), you can focus on learning how to use the material that you have researched effectively.
B. Create a List of Weekly Expenses
Make a list or chart of weekly expenses. This way you can see how your money is being spent, where it is going, and where you can cut back. For example, look at the money you spend on extracurricular activities and see if you can use half of that to fund your project.
C. Raise funds for your project
Set up a fundraiser to raise money for your project/projects. This can be done locally or through social media crowd funding websites.
SELF DOUBT THOUGHT/THOUGHTS #3: Nobody will like the new piece/pieces of artwork; My clients won’t understand what I am trying to do.
A. Everything Involves Risk
When you have found something successful that has worked for you, it is scary to think that your latest passion may not be received the way you would have initially envisioned. Continue producing what sells while trying to find alternative ways to market your work in this new medium. Your continued success in the medium in which you are familiar will offset any initial rejection or cool reception of the pieces produced in the new medium/mediums.
B. Market Your Work To A Different Audience Using Social Media
This helps to expose your work to people that are unfamiliar with what you do. So they are less likely to judge you based on your past work and the medium in which it is produced.
C. Consider dealing with the same subject matter and themes that you deal with in the medium in which you have experience. Then you can tie your old work and your new work in a different medium together using theme. This theme based work will help your present collectors to more easily identify with your work in this new medium.
SELF DOUBT THOUGHT/THOUGHTS #4: I don’t have enough time to pursue another medium.
A. Make A Time Chart
Look at your present schedule. How do you allocate time in your day for each item on your to-do list? Try to see if there are any open spaces of time that you could use for your new project.
B. Enlist family members to help with chores
Ask your son, daughter or spouse to cook for you some days or take out the trash. You’d be surprised, even the smallest, simplest tasks take up precious time that you could be using to do research and to create your new work.
Outsource time consuming jobs like sending your packets out to galleries, updating your website and writing copy to an assistant, intern or freelancer.
When you attack self doubt with action steps to solve the problem/problems you are worried about, you begin to see the possibilities. Tasks seem easier to conquer. Dreams seem attainable when approached in small steps.
*If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to contact me. I’d love to hear from you!