My biggest challenge is accepting myself as an artist. I never feel like I deserve the title. It inhibits creativity. -Elizabeth Trenchard
You’re not alone, Elizabeth. Art is a completely subjective practice. No two artists will ever create in exactly the same way so how do you measure “good art”? Who decides one artist is better than another?
My own artwork doesn’t do it for everyone. I’ve had my fair share of criticism and one terrible review that still makes me chuckle.
The point is, we can’t listen to those voices. Sure, it’s important to accept healthy criticism and always be learning, but when those voices cause us to doubt ourselves it’s time to put them aside.
I work in schools now and then and nothing is more heartbreaking than to meet a 7 year old who tells me flat out that they suck at art. Who fed them this opinion of themselves? Who placed themselves as the arbiter of talent and artistry? No doubt someone who believes the sky must always be blue (when of course, it’s not!) or that a circle with a few dots doesn’t make a face. Picasso would probably disagree.
What I’m saying is that there are plenty of people in this world who will tell you your art isn’t very good, or that someone else’s is better. There are an unlimited number of voices that will tear you down if you let them, and the sad truth is many of those voices mean well and are only trying to help.
So what does a person do when their own voice joins the chorus?
Find a new song.
Seriously. Artists listen up: no one will ever walk through your door and pin a medal on your chest. “Congratulations! You are now a Genius!”
Not gonna happen.
Art isn’t just something you hang on a hook- it’s a part of life, as essential as breathing. If I was digging ditches I’d still be an artist.
No one can take that away from me and in my life people have definitely tried.
You have something to offer that no one else does. Don’t wait for permission, don’t wait for someone to confer artist status on your head, just claim it. Accept it and if it feels like an ill-fitting suit, then grow into it. Flex those art muscles. Exercise them every day and share what you learn along the way.
You are an artist. Never doubt it.
Elizabeth Trenchard is an artist from St.Andrews, Manitoba. Check out her work here: Mapleton on Maine