I See You: a love letter to artists facing self doubt

I See You: a love letter to artists facing self doubt

Nothing will kill art faster than self doubt.

And unless you are certifiable narcissist, every single artist goes through periods of self doubt. It is normal. Overcoming it makes us better artists.

But, today fiberista, I want to acknowledge and validate your self doubt with loving tenderness. It is real and it is your right to process through all those feelings no matter what triggered it, what life experiences formed it, and how long you will carry it. I also want to see you move through self doubt, gathering all the gifts (yes, gifts) that it has waiting for you.

Art is important. It is your visual language, and your voice is important.

Art is a gift not just to the artist but to those who have the honor of seeing their work whether they resonate that piece or hate it.

Art sparks inspiration in other artists. I don’t mean idea stealing kind of inspiration, Art inspires others to find their own voice.

Self doubt calls you to push through it by finding new directions and inspirations. It asks us to change our art until our heart skips a beat and we bravely stand behind our work.

Self doubt also calls us to give up on art. It asks us if we really have the passion to continue. What would you do if you were not creating? Are you brave enough to try new ideas, fail, get back up and try again?

Self doubt is a fucking bully.

Fiberista, no matter where you are in your journey, you are exactly where you are meant to be. You are an artist despite your doubts, because you participate in finding that voice.

I see you.

I see your bravery. And I can’t wait to see your evolution.

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Creative ADD

Creative ADD

Years ago, before my fiber art obsession, when I was a graphic designer, I loved to take art classes. I took so many community art classes. Batik, Metalsmithing, Raku, Lampwork. I loved to dive into learning ways to create. Despite creating all day for commercial purposes…no…probably because I created all day for someone else…I would carve out precious time to learn new methods of making stuff. Most of the mediums were not something I found pursuing too far beyond the classes. But I don’t think I ever hated any of the techniques I learned in any of those classes. Often It was simply I did not have the space or resources to pursue the mediums outside of class. Like ceramic required dropping  a couple hundred a month for share in a studio, or a few thousand on major equipment. And finding homes with studio space at that time was just not a priority.

I would also go to art openings. I had such admiration for those artists. I wished that I, too, was in that place of selling my art (well…outside of logos, ads and brochures) After bemoaning my longing to be like them to a dear friend, she pointed out that my creative ADD was not doing me any favors. And she was right… I was not diving deeper into a body of work. I needed to pick one. At that time, I had just learned how to knit. That was the  beginning of becoming a fiber artist. All because I was able and ready to dive deeper into growing that medium. And it is true, the way to really grow a body of work and a style is to make a whole lot of the same thing each time changing what isn’t working, adding new ideas in slow baby steps.

But sometimes that linear focus can lead to some serious creative blocks. There have been times when I feel I have reached a dead end in the direction of my work. It happens to all artists at some point. I believe this is where crafting ADD is a good thing.

Here’s the thing, your creative voice is a constant. You subconscious sometimes needs a different medium to get the flow going again. And I do not mean you need to go who hog and decide you are now a metalsmith or sculptor. It can be as simple as art journaling (my personal fave) or maybe adding some clay headers to your weaving. Or maybe it is taking you favorite sweater and creating an abstract painting of it. What this does is jog you brain in a new direction. You do not need to make a masterpiece. You just need to create a few new neuro pathways.

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Letting go of WIP guilt

Letting go of WIP guilt

Fiberista, I have a feeling you can relate. You are not loving any of the projects you have on hand. It doesn’t matter how many WIPs you have, everyone has a threshold of WIPS that is too embarrassing. For some, they will only work one at a time (Rare I know, how in the hell do they do it) or like me it can be  much higher…like 24.

Here’s the thing… that guilt can totally kill your creative mojo. If that guilt is keeping you from actually doing the creative work, then it is not serving you AT ALL. Feeling meh about a project might actually be your right brain telling you you are on the wrong path. Not all projects are meant to be finished. If you are not loving working on something…chances are you will not wear it either so all that time and material will be wasted.

So, today fiberista… I give you permission to let go of what you are on the fence about. If starting a new project means you keep making art the HELL YES… lean into the startitis and get clearer on what you’ve.

Wanna see some of the WIPs I let go of…there are a lot of them…

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5 Powerful Keys to Making Your Competition Irrelevant

5 Powerful Keys to Making Your Competition Irrelevant

Jealousy. We have all been there. It does not matter if it is amongst stay at home moms, corporate executives and yes, even artists. There is a time in EVERYONE’s life when you are green with envy over what someone else has. And while I think jealousy is just a fact on every life, I am going to focus today on jealousy in the art scene.

Jealousy can be a good thing in a way. It can fuel action, take your work to the next level, set that bar higher than you would without the challenge. But here is what I hate…the bitterness and even hate when artist become jealous. I don’t know about you but I want to live with as little hate as possible AND to advance and challenge myself to do better work. Jealousy means you are gauging your work against someone else. So today, Fiberista I give you my to 5 Keys to making your competition irrelevant.

Honor what is awesome in other’s work. Let them have their moment without interjecting ANYTHING about yourself. Yes you may have done this before, Yes you may have done it better. So what. This is not your moment, it is theirs. Share in their excitement. Ask questions and LISTEN to what they say. You are being given the gift of seeing something beautiful. Be in that moment of awe and be happy that it happened, even if it was not by your hand. It is just good Karma.

Blue Ocean Strategy. The theory being, rather than operate in an artistic shark tank, competing for the same customers (red oceans) you actually should follow your ideas out into unchartered waters(blue oceans). These ideas are formed by highlighting the differences between you and the competition, and build on those differences. For example, Steve Jobs did this when he designed Apple. He took those differences between his computer and others, amplified the differences, and built on those differences to form more unique ideas. Another example, thing of the differences between Cirque Du Soleil and a traditional circus. Cirque Du Soleil highlighted and built on what set them apart. I might also point out in both cases, these differences were not hamstring by cheaper prices. In fact, these companies are actually able to charge more for their unique offerings. This is all based on a marketing strategy book, called The Blue Ocean Strategy.

Turn down the noise. If you find yourself only looking for your inspirations in other’s work, it is often hard to listen to your own ideas. And especially if you hope to excel in your work, pinning your ideas to another’s pace will eventually limit your growth. Don’t hang faith in your own art on some one else’s path. Sometimes, you just need to detach from the hive mind and go make some stuff. Find inspirations in everyday life, and art journal like crazy.

Be okay with working through bad ideas. Ugly art happens to everyone. But I promise it always leads to better work. It does not make you a bad artist. And it is okay if you don’t want to show any of it. However, I find the most confident artist will show their most self deprecating work bravely. If you are at that point where you are confidently showing your mistakes, I think it is a strong indicator that you are not afraid of competition.

Show your work humbly. Remember when I said to honor other’s work? Eventually it is your turn to show your work. It will be your moment. Despite all the find-your-own-path talk I mentioned in the last three steps, there comes a time when you will have the opportunity inspire others to find their own path. That is where art communities happen. Welcome questions, share information freely and confidently, and encourage others to build their own path through any inspirations they might glean from you. It is okay. Those who copy will find the path short and frustrating. Encourage them past that dead end and into their own ideas. There is no finite resource of creative ideas, there is enough for all. Blue Oceans for everyone.

 

 

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Your Art is Not Your Technique

Your Art is Not Your Technique

Let me clear something up, your art is not your technique. Technique involve process of habit, muscle memory, physical skills of precision. Art involves right brain creative genius being brought into form through your technique. Techniques are just a way to express your art. Your art is your visual language. Technique is craft, visual language is art.

 

Craft vs Art

A quick google search will show you just how common the argument of craft versus art is. And it is true the line between art and craft can get awfully muddy. Some people will argue that art is strictly aesthetic and without function, craft being anything functional. But spend any time in a fine craft community (Like Asheville) and you will see the line is so very muddy. But dive deeper into the stories and ideas behind any fine craft piece and you will see a right brain expressing ideas. Suddenly even the fact a piece of weaving or ceramics, normally considered craft and you are even looking closer to see the art…indeed becomes a part of the visual language in and of itself. Fine craft is that line where craft crosses the line into art. It is art, despite being rooted in mastered craft skills.

 

Copying the Masters

When you master a craft skill that as an artist you find room to focus on where you can add creative genius. A popular exercise for a student learning how to paint is to copy master works of art. It is an exercise designed to learn the literal strokes of paint that will yield a specific visual effect. But of course the student can not call it quits once they copy a painting. They go on to learn how to apply the painting skill to their own ideas.

And there is nothing wrong with just being content to master a craft skill. In fact not all knitters want to go further into fiber art. I can’t blame them, knitting on a master level is crazy hard and an accomplishment itself. But if you find yourself filled with new creative directions as you work, then you are crossing over into fiber artist.

 

Sharing Your Techniques Helps You Stand Out

I have been guilty of this myself. There was a time when I did not want to share my craft process thinking that I would be giving my work away. But honestly, I had to learn my process from someone else as well. And I have even modified that process to accommodate a different look for my work. So like the student painter copying the masters, by doing a process over and over again, with the small tweaks and creative curiosity I moved that technique into expressing my own visual language.

When you share your techniques, you are inviting others to step into a community. It is in community that one can get feedback and challenges to stretch you own creative genius. It is actually in community sharing techniques that you can actually STRENGTHEN your own visual language as you see how it contrasts with others doing similar work. I find in community a drive to explore my own ideas deeper for new directions.

So master your techniques. Be in your craft and observe. You will find your visual voice while you work. Share your ideas, and you will find strength in your voice and inspiration for more ideas.

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When You Just Show Up

When You Just Show Up

Procrastination. I have to admit, I am so freaking guilty of procrastinating in a big way when it comes to making art. Seriously? I love art. WTH am I doing? Why do chose to do laundry over getting into the studio I love, sitting with an obscene amount of great yarn and make stuff? Just freaking do it already. This is nuts.

Here’s the thing. No matter what you are making, when you are using your right brain you are awfully close to your subconscious, emotions, your vulnerable side. And you may never show your work to anyone, but sometimes the act of facing your own feels no matter what they are is just not what you want to do. Facing self judgement, doubt. Jeez! Art is suppose to be fun not pressure.

It is a simple theory really. Sometimes to break through a creative block, you just need to show up. Get into the studio, straighten up, read a magazine. Sometimes just showing up will get the ball rolling.

Having confidence. Whatever you make is fine. Even if it is bad, mistakes lead to better work. No one has to see the ugly stuff. Make bad art on purpose, then the pressure will really be off of you. Who knows you just might stumble onto something brilliant.

Just being lazy? Fine, be lazy. Do it in the studio.

Entice yourself with good snacks and music. Or movies. Whatever gets you to want to hang out in the studio and maybe do some work

Just schedule it. It does not have to be a lot of time. An hour a week might be plenty of time. Or at least a good start. If you need time to set up space (like the dining room table) then schedule time for that too.

In a nutshell, art won’t make itself. The first step to inviting inspiration for that art is showing up.

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