How to find your confidence as an artist and maker

How to find your confidence as an artist,

How to find your confidence as an artist and maker

By Trudi Murray

Can I let you into a secret? Don’t tell anyone, but I’m a big mess. I know nothing. I have NO IDEA. I don’t know what I’m doing from one day to the next. Am I even any good at this? I feel like a fraud. An imposter. I’m worried – really worried – that one day soon, someone in charge is going to come along and shine the spotlight on me, and say: “Uh-oh! Here we have it, the original phoney!”

Sound familiar? It makes me cringe to admit it, and it’s hard putting this vulnerability out there, but I think we need to talk more about these things. My lack of self confidence has been a huge battle over the past few years, and it seems to get worse the more popular my work becomes. The more I sell, the more I worry. It keeps me awake at night. On the one hand, I’m gaining momentum: followers, presence, traction in a competitive market. On the other, I’m frequently struggling to stay focused on the work and not the anxiety. I manage most of the time. The other times I know HOW to manage. It’s not easy though, and when you work by yourself, for yourself, it can get tough.

how to find your confidence as an artist, how to be a confidence about being a maker, selling tips, trudi murray

I tend to imagine that everyone else has it all together and sorted. Not true! One of the most important things in doing business, of whatever sort, is to simply be yourself. So you’re nervous. So you’re afraid a lot of the time. So you feel like giving up. Good! Me too!

The good thing about being driven to create something, to do business, to build a ‘brand’, to make beauty in the world, to make a change, to share yourself creatively, as lots of us are, is that you need to exist outside your comfort zone for a lot of the time. It’s good because it forces us to push boundaries, to experiment, to be truly ourselves. I’d say I’m in new territory – uncomfortable, nervous, taking a risk – 75% of the time. Is that a good percentage? Maybe. It doesn’t feel it! But maybe I could push it more. Or less. I don’t know. I do know it’s easy to become mentally exhausted. Everyone has different pressure points, of course. I can do the creative work. I don’t worry about that. That’s just a question of showing up, and getting on with it. Ideas come easily to me. I can see the way the work is taking me. I can see, I think, what I want to do, where I want to be.

Doing the business? Well, that’s much harder for me.

how to find your confidence as an artist, how to be a confidence about being a maker, selling tips, trudi murray

I’m going bravely forth each day, armed with all the excellent information I can gather on the things I find scary. If the advice doesn’t seem to fit me, I leave it behind and do what feels better. I make the decisions I want to make. I tackle big things in little chunks. I knuckle down, I get on. Then I stop. Have a rest. Breathe. Paint. It’s my life after all! It’s my creative journey.

I’d like to say that one day I’ll have someone to run the business side of things for me. But is that a get-out, do you think? Is that just wanting to be a child again, or delegating the responsibility, because it’s hard. I know that when I’ve triumphed at something, the reward is immense. For example, being present online is second nature to me now. At first, it was excruciating. Now, I find social media fun and refreshing, and a font of good information, friendships and contacts. Step forward the wonderful people of #folksyhour! I hate to miss it. It has been most instrumental for me. It’s where I found out that I have good ideas (sometimes!), that people need each other and like to swap ideas. And also that people need ME, too. That I can belong here, just like anyone can. I tend to imagine that everyone else has it all together and sorted. Not true! Most importantly, #folksyhour has reflected back to me that one of the most important things in doing business, of whatever sort, is to simply be yourself. So you’re nervous. So you’re afraid a lot of the time. So you feel like giving up. Good! Me too!

how to find your confidence as an artist, trudi murray

There’s only one of you. And there’ll never be another, with your unique vision and mix of talents. It would be a shame if fear robbed us of your creativity and your work.

But you know what? There’s only one of you. And there’ll never be another, with your unique vision and mix of talents. Fear might be a reason, but it needn’t be an excuse. It would be a shame if it robbed us of your creativity and your work. Or if I became too scared to put my work out there. I NEED to make it. I ought to share it. I’d love to sell it. Then I can make more! That’s all there is to it, really.

So I’m going bravely forth each day, armed with all the excellent information I can gather on the things I find scary (tax, wholesale, analytics, accounting, marketing, promotion, photography, selling overseas…). If the advice doesn’t seem to fit me (as long as it’s legal to do so!), I leave it behind and do what feels better. I make the decisions I want to make. I tackle big things in little chunks. I knuckle down, I get on. Then I stop. Have a rest. Breathe. Paint. It’s my life after all! It’s my creative journey. That might also mean, for example, deciding not to do things, or deciding stubbornly, against all perceived wisdom, to have a more eclectic, random Instagram account. Photos of my cat? Or chocolate biscuits? Heck, yes. I’m not a robot. (Although if you check my Instagram I haven’t managed this yet. I am after all, completely obsessed with making art! But watch this space).

Please join me on this big adventure. It would be nice to meet you. See you on twitter for #folksyhour Tuesdays 8-9pm. It’s fun. (And some of us bring gin.)

Trudi x

how to find your confidence as an artist, how to be a confidence about being a maker, selling tips, trudi murray

You can see Trudi Murray’s paintings and wonderful original artwork in her Folksy shop, follow Trudi on Twitter @trudilula and read our Meet the Maker interview here.

Photographs by Juliet Mckee Photography

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusFacebooktwittergoogle_plus
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusinstagramFacebooktwittergoogle_plusinstagram

8 Comments

  • June 9, 2016

    Alexa Carey

    Thank you so much for writing this Trudi! I feel just the same, & am so hampered by it some weeks that I can’t even do the creative work! I genuinely didn’t think that others felt this way too. Following your Instagram in eager anticipation of chocolate biscuits (which appear a few times in my own feed, I’ll admit)!

  • Thank you I just thought it was me that felt that way ! I love crafting and make sock monkeys at the moment but. done lots of crafty things . Some days just feel like going back to bed making handmade a business is not easy. Eating choc biscuits sounds good I try that !

  • June 22, 2016

    Kerry MacKay

    Lovely open piece, thank you. I’m just into my second year of business and suffer terribly from self doubt. I completed a master degree in a science subject, struggled to find any work in that so resorted to my love of art and craft. Although I love what I do now, I feel like I’m a failure in my science subject and an imposter in the art world. It makes setting prices that reflect the true value of my work and selling them rather difficult! Glad I’m not alone :)

  • June 22, 2016

    Claudia K

    Thank you for this article Trudi, you are so right! I have mind battles of sometimes feeling I’m not worthy and at other times it’s a yes I am worthy! I love doing the creative side but drag my feet sometimes when it comes to paperwork! Ps biscuits can be art too! :D

  • July 13, 2016

    Eva

    I have only just started my creative journey and am still trying to find my creative strengths (whereas weaknesses are abundant). Without going into much detail my life has been a huge struggle the past few years and I’m finally finding out how to channel all this through my creativity. I have been doing some random creative stuff in combination with writing a simple blog about it -whatever I feel like doing in that moment basically- and was struggling to wrap my head around the fact that it is just ok to make whatever I want and it’s just as ok to share whatever I want or sell whatever I want. I happened to stumble upon this page and lucky too because it was just what I needed to hear! So all this said I want to thank you so much for sharing this with me :) and of course I will be following your every move from now on ;)

    • August 18, 2016

      Trudi Murray

      Hi Eva, I’ve just seen your reply here! Sorry it took me so long to see it. I’m so glad you enjoyed my article. It really is an every day struggle, but worth pushing through. It is so lovely and liberating to discover that there aren’t really any rules in creativity! It took me a long time to realise it. Keep going – I will too :) xx

  • October 1, 2016

    Melissa Lawrence

    Fantastically helpful post, even if I am very late in coming to it. Really appreciate your honesty and openness, Trudi. Eveything you said is exactly how I feel. I think the psychologists call it “Imposter Syndrome” and having been pretty confident most of my life, I now find that having entered a totally new industry in my mid fifties, self-confidence and low-self-esteem are hampering my progress. But it’s really, really helpful to know that others feel the same so “onwards and upwards”!!

    • October 16, 2016

      Trudi Murray

      Thank you Melissa! Glad it was useful. Go for it! I have just had a stand at an art fair this weekend – I was nervous. Lo and behold, when I asked my fellow exhibiting artists, so was everyone. There I was, imagining I was the only one..! :)