In January I published a blog post called Pushing Through the Fear, which was all about how in 2016 I would be pushing myself out of my comfort zone and start believing in myself and what I create:
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a problem with “putting myself out there”. Not only am I an introvert, I am a fairly shy introvert. I’m nowhere near as shy as I used to be, but still; I don’t enjoy being the center of attention, I don’t know how to take a compliment, and I often worry that, when I do try to put myself out there, I’m coming across as pushy or thinking too much of myself. This isn’t exactly helpful when you want to share creative projects and get involved in a community.
I have many conversations with my husband about what makes someone an artist, since he calls me one and I completely avoid using that word to describe myself. He thinks that you don’t need formal training or an exhibit at a prestigious gallery; anyone who creates things is an artist. I obviously have a different opinion, although only when it comes to myself it seems.
Recently I’ve been thinking more about this avoidance and how rationalizing “not being an artist” holds me back. I use it to talk myself out of sharing or submitting work, making things for people, or getting involved with other artists. I fear putting myself out there and that my work isn’t good enough, so it’s easier to tell myself that I’m not a “real artist” rather than risk whatever it is I think is going to happen if I try.
I’ve had enough of that. I may not be comfortable describing myself in that way yet, but I’m not going to hold myself back anymore. This year is going to be the year I push myself out of that (negative) comfort zone and start believing in myself and what I create. Over the course of 2015, I created and shared more than ever before. I gained over 5,000 followers on Tumblr, had over 16,000 likes/reblogs, sold some of my artwork, successfully created a project that brought together some of the art journaling community on Tumblr, and received many lovely messages. If that isn’t motivation to continue putting myself out there, I don’t know what is!
I’m not aiming to be a professional artist – I already have a career path that I love – but I’d love to enter competitions or get involved with other artists. There is nothing stopping me, besides myself. I’m finally making art that I’m happy with and proud of, and that should be the only thing that matters.
10 Ways I Battled the Fear Demon in 2016
1. Collaborative Journal
My 2016 started out strong with pushing through the fear. In January I started a collaborative journal with Beatriz Helton, which has continued throughout the year and resulted in eight completed pages. You can follow our progress using the #bdoom2016 tag on Instagram. It’s been such a fun project and Beatriz is so lovely and encouraging, it’s pretty funny that I was so worried about starting the project in the beginning! I’m hoping that we continue through next year and we finally get to meet up!
2. Portrait Exchange
In January I also took part in a portrait exchange with Ashley (arfranklinstein) which was so much fun! My painting is the one on the right.
3. Pen Pal Painting Exchange
In 2013 I signed up for The Sketchbook Project, but became so consumed with anxiety about it that I couldn’t get it finished. This year I’m happy to say that I completed one of their projects: The Pen Pal Painting Exchange! Each person had to paint a mini portrait of themselves, mail it back, and get matched up with someone based on the painting and a little Q&A. My portrait (which I wasn’t entirely happy with, but pleased I completed it) was swapped with Carol (mychronicdreamer).
4. Fill It February
This one was an anomaly because I barely ever finish challenges, but I filled a journal in February for fyeahjournals‘ challenge. The project ended up being about something pretty heavy that I needed to get off my chest and I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out overall (there were a few dud pages, but it was to be expected).
5. Selling Art
I was unemployed for the first half of the year, so I decided to try my hand at selling my art on a few different websites. Between March and June I managed to sell a few customized handmade junk journals, some stickers, postcards, and mini art pieces on my Storenvy shop (now temporarily closed). I also managed to sell some of my art through Society6 and RedBubble (although I’m still not sure how I feel about those sites).
6. Recognition from some of my favourite musicians
During the year I worked on my Warrior Women Portrait Series and other portraits of musicians in my art journal. I was brave enough to post the majority of them to social media, and many of the musicians liked/commented – and a few even reposted! It was pretty amazing. I still can’t get over a few of them!
7. Giving art as gifts
I have always been hesitant to do this, as I thought my art wasn’t good enough and that people would think it was cheap or a cop-out. This year I pushed myself to make art that I would feel happy giving to others. I painted a wedding gift for my brother on a piece of wood and a canvas for a friend. Unfortunately my brother didn’t like the wedding gift, which did knock my confidence a little, but I still like the piece.
In September I broke away from my “personal” Instagram account to create an art account. I really should have done it from the beginning! I’ve only been using it as an art account for a few months, but I feel there is a strong and encouraging art journaling/art community on Instagram and I’m enjoying chatting to like-minded people.
9. Art Every Day Month
This was my fourth year taking part in Art Every Day Month (November) and I feel like it was my best year yet! I feel like I made some good art during the month and didn’t make any of the pages half-heartedly. For more, see: Art Every Day Month 2016 Highlights.
10. Get Messy
And finally, this month I joined Get Messy! I’ve been following the evolution of Get Messy since around 2014 but hadn’t got involved for one reason or another. Towards the end of this year I was craving community, so I thought this would be perfect. I’m not too good at following prompts or ideas, but I’m trying to get better. Most importantly, I’m hoping to connect with fellow art journalers and immerse myself in what seems like a very warm and encouraging community. Hopefully it will help me to keep battling the Fear Demon into 2017!