“How do you know if you’re any good?”

Above: Uprising, artwork from the Flying Apostrophes series.

“How do you know if you’re any good?”
This is a question I hear a lot from creatives, whether they’re writers, artists, photographers, even marketers … 

And it’s a question I asked myself A LOT when I started creating art.

However, I eventually realised that it was a futile one to ask!

  • Even when people started buying my work, I first thought: “Oh I’m just lucky”
  • Even when certain art pieces got a huge number of likes on Instagram, I thought: “That’s just the Algorithm Gods being nice to me today.”
  • Even when I began being recognised in art prizes, I told myself: “But that’s just one person’s (the judge’s) opinion.”
  • Even when I got a Diploma of Design under my belt, I realised: “But that piece of paper hasn’t made me feel more confident!”

I realised that it’s a question loaded with so many fears, anxieties and issues that plagued me about my own self worth. And, in speaking to other creatives, it seems I’m not the only one!

Seeking validation from other people – in any career – can be misguided if you don’t already have a strong compass to help you know the direction you want to head.

This is particularly true if you’re at the early stages of your journey, when you’re still experimenting, while you’re still finding your own voice.

At this time, it’s vital NOT to ask yourself that question. And FOCUS, instead, on simply creating.

Because when you spend your time trying to analyse whether you’re good or not, you can end up paralysed into inaction. Or, worse, just depressing yourself that you don’t have a definitive answer!

I learnt this the hard way. 

When you focus on this creative equivalent of “Does my bum look big in this?”, it can be debilitating.

It took me a while to stop asking the question and to simply immerse myself in the joy of creating. Once I removed that unnecessary block I had put in front of myself, I was a lot happier! And, of course, then more people started buying my art.

If you can relate to this:

  • Don’t worry, you’re not alone!
  • Stop asking the question
  • Focus on the excitement of the creative process instead of what other people think.

 

By Valerie Khoo

April 26th, 2019
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