In today’s art podcast, we are talking about artist imposter syndrome which we previously covered in Episode 10. Now is a good time to revisit this subject, because Tara and I have got good reason to be going through a bit of it ourselves. I’m sure many artists in the Art Community do too sometimes.
What is imposter syndrome for artists?
Imposter syndrome is insecurity in an artist. An artist may be getting praise or doing well, but they don’t feel like they are good or talented. It’s a fear of being found out that they are not worthy of being an artist.
Artist imposter syndrome symptoms
One sign of artist imposter syndrome is that you feel like you don’t deserve the recognition you’re getting, or that you feel like a fraud. You look at other people’s artwork and feel inferior. Most artists go through that at times, particularly beginner Artists.
Imposter syndrome can mean your art is going well
Having imposter syndrome can be a good sign. It can mean your work is getting noticed and people are reacting positively to it. This might lead to you feeling like people are just “being kind” or being positive because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. In fact, you might be making up lots of reasons why people are saying nice things because you have artist self-doubt.
How to beat imposter syndrome
Fake it until you make it
People believe in people who believe in themselves. The saying, fake it until you make it is a perfect example of that. But you have to train yourself to believe in yourself as an artist. Pretend you are a confident artist.
“I am always surprised and in awe of artists on Instagram who have the bottle to say “I love this piece I have created”. I don’t mean when people are being big-headed or conceited, but it’s just great to hear that they have so much conviction in their work. That or that they are faking it well.”
If you have imposter syndrome you might apologise for your art, or point out everything you think is wrong with it. Instead, point out the things you like about your paintings. Or if there is a bit of work you don’t like, just don’t share it. We can all be terrible judges of our own work because our inner critic takes over. If you haven’t done it yourself I am sure you have seen other people say I did this drawing but it’s not my best or I don’t like it. Before they said it you probably wouldn’t have noticed it.
Compare your own art to what you made previously
Try to compare yourself to yourself – and look back at what you created a few months or a year ago. See how much you have improved
Look at some of the work of famous artists that are worth a fortune. You will probably think some is completely rubbish, but clearly, other people don’t. Look on Instagram while there will be artists that you think are amazing, there will also be artists that have massive followings that you will think, why on earth do people like this stuff.
Don’t assume every piece of art you create will work. Without mistakes, there is no improvement. All artists do work they aren’t happy with from time to time. It’s normal
Beat your artist self-doubt by reminding yourself of the positive things about your art
Hang prints of some of the work you have done and are proud of. This way, when you are doubtful of your abilities, you can look at them and remind yourself what you are capable of. There is nothing wrong with feeling proud of your work.
Tara: One of the things that made me feel more confident about my faces was when I had a large poster created of several of them that is now on my wall. When the poster arrived I was seeing the paintings in a different form, all with nice neat edges and smooth as it was printed. I looked at it and thought, “I like that”. It was strange to look at my own work as though it was created by someone else. I was also looking at it from a few feet away rather than directly under my nose.
Print out some of the most positive comments you have received about your work from social media and pin them on a board where you can see them As humans we have a bias towards remembering an odd bad comment, rather than lots of good ones
Another thing you can try is to Imagine your work was created by a friend. What would you say to them about it? You would probably be kinder about it than you are to yourself and see how far you have come
Our experiences of Artists Imposter Syndrome
Sandra: I remember feeling weird the first time my art was published in a magazine. I just thought, who am I to have my stuff published? But remember that you did something to get where you are or to receive those compliments.
Tara: I had complete imposter syndrome when we first started the Kick in the Creatives Podcast and talked about art. At the time I had only just started creating art by hand again and sometimes I felt I shouldn’t be talking about it. Ironically that probably meant that I was at a similar stage to some people listening which made it more relatable. Plus, I still had an opinion as any artist of any level does.
Ask yourself why you feel like an imposter
Is it because you are comparing yourself to other artists in your field who are way more experienced? Beginners have a place in art. Without beginners, there would be no experts!
What would you need to do or achieve to not feel like an imposter?
You might even want to write this down so you can look back at it when you have achieved the goal to see how you feel. Remember that the more you achieve with your art, the stronger the imposter syndrome might feel.
Everyone feels like an imposter at points in their lives
Realise that everyone feels like an imposter at some point, even famous people and Prime Ministers and Presidents.
- Ex UK Prime Minister David Cameron had imposter syndrome.
- New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern suffers from “imposter syndrome” and watches “bad crime shows” to wind down
Focus on the fact that if you have imposter syndrome, it’s usually because your art is improving and you are doing well
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This week’s creative question
Q. Do you believe that it is important to be accepted by others as being creative or is just doing what you love to do enough to justify your work?
The best answers will be read out on a future podcast.
You can Tweet us your answers @KickCreatives or let us know in the Facebook Group, which by the way if you haven’t already joined, I highly recommend that you do! We will put the question up there and also on the Facebook page… and of course, on our Instagram page @kickinthecreatives.
If you have any suggestions for the podcast or our challenges please feel free to get in touch.