Visibility and the artist: Are you afraid to share your art?

Fear of not being good enough

In today’s episode of the Art with Soul podcast, we talk about the fear of visibility, specifically the fear of sharing your artwork – or any creative work – freely. I share some tips and ideas to help you overcome this fear and awkwardness, and share some insights from my own art journey. You’ll find a written transcript of the podcast + detailed shownotes below.

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Are you afraid to show your work?

The fear of sharing your artwork – or any creative work – freely, is something that I noticed recently in some artist communities on Facebook. While a lot of us were sharing our work, I also saw many beautiful, creative souls who seemed to be terrified of sharing their art, because they thought it was not good enough.

Soon after, my creative friend Reena (@reensarai on instagram) asked if would do a podcast episode about visibility and the artist, so this felt like the subject to dive into. It is also one that I know and live intimately – this fear of visibility, of showing and sharing my work in the world.

The fear of not being good enough

The thought of putting your work up for public consumption can be pretty intimidating, especially when a scroll through Instagram or Pinterest or even Google throws up some absolutely stunning work by talented artists from around the world. And when you are returning to art after a very long break, or have just started on your art journey, that can paralyze you, and make you question if your art is even good enough to share.

I can understand perfectly – I’ve been there too, after all! In fact, I think most artists have!

The inner critic and the fragmented self

reflection of woman s eye on broken mirror
Photo by Ismael Sanchez on Pexels.com

As a self-taught artist with a very strong inner critic, I was terrified of sharing my work. I thought it wasn’t good enough, that it looked like a kindergarten kid’s efforts. I wondered if anyone would even be interested in seeing my poor attempts at painting, especially when there are so many brilliant artists out there sharing their gorgeous creations.

But art was also becoming an integral part of me. Just sitting down to paint in my art journal brought me joy and peace, and by being unable to share it or even talk about it, I felt like I was silencing, or rather hiding, a part of myself. I felt like I was leading separate, compartmentalized lives…that I wasn’t being honest and authentic with myself.

And I was no longer comfortable with this fragmentation of myself. I wanted to feel safe and confident about who I am, and what I am interested in, and to be able to speaking fearlessly about what brings me joy.

Why artists are afraid of showing their work

I think the reason most artists are afraid of showing our work is because it is terrifying to think that someone would say to us the things that we say to ourselves about our art. But what I have found is that the artist community is actually very encouraging, and that we are our own worst critics.

The best advice I have for you if you’re afraid to show you art is to just take a deep breath, and share it! The worst that will happen is that no one will notice or comment on your work; and there is a certain freedom in that!

After having taken that first scary step of showing your work, when you realize that none of the terrible scenarios that played out in your head really happened, it becomes a bit easier to share some more of your work.

And if you talk about your art, why you do it, what drives you, and what moves you to create, I can guarantee that you will start to find your voice – and your tribe.

What really scares you about showing your art?

For me, when I was trying to muster up the courage to share my work, I realized that I wasn’t really afraid of sharing it with strangers. What scared me was sharing my work on my personal Facebook page, where my friends and acquaintances could see it. What I was terrified about was inviting the scorn of my friends and acquaintances.

Do you relate?

I decided to work around that fear by sharing my art on my Instagram account – this is before Instagram really exploded onto the scene, when it was still only for Apple users. No one who knew me in real life was on the platform, I wasn’t using my real name there, and no one knew who I was.

I remember that I got a few likes on my post, which was encouraging. And after sharing it once on Instagram, it felt a little less terrifying to continue to share my art on the platform.

Finding the courage to share my art

And then I noticed a surprising thing. As I became more confident about sharing my work on Instagram, I started to lose some of that fear of sharing my art on my personal Facebook account.

The very first piece of art that I shared on my personal page, was the very first layer of the 30 day canvas that I did for the first time in 2015. It was a zero risk share, because I was not sharing a finished piece of art, so even if someone passed a snide comment, I was fairly certain that I could brush it off.

Because the first piece of art I shared was 2 green circles and some brown stripes that I had put down on an 8×11 inch canvas board! Even if someone said that looked like a 5-year old’s attempts at art, it wouldn’t be much worse than what my inner critic was telling me!

I posted each day’s progress on that canvas on my personal Facebook page, and each time that I shared my art, a little of that fear of not being good enough, and of what people would say or think about me, subsided.

The best thing to come out of moving out of my comfort zone and sharing my art was the confidence it gave me to speak more openly about my art practice and to not have to hide parts of myself.

Visibility and the artist: Tips for sharing your art

cheerful young woman screaming into megaphone
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

If you’re afraid of sharing your art, consider sharing it within artist communities on Facebook first. What I’ve seen multiple times, in multiple groups, is that people rally around to offer support when someone is feeling particularly vulnerable about their art, which is a beautiful thing about the artist community.

Another thing that may help you get over some of that fear and awkwardness associated with sharing your art, is to start by sharing your work anonymously. We often fear what people we know will say or think about us; the opinion of random strangers on the internet is easier to brush off. Once you develop some confidence in sharing your work with strangers, you may well find that it becomes less scary to share your work with the people you know.

It may also help to remember that the inner critic tends to raise its head no matter how confident or experienced we may be in our art journey. One thing that may help you to overcome the inner critic’s tyranny is to remember that no one in the real world will be as hard on you, as you are on yourself!

I say this from experience, of course! My inner critic has said some horrible things about my art, and she still finds ways to try and convince me that my paintings aren’t good enough. No one – not among the people I know, and certainly no one in the artist community – has said anything even remotely as nasty to me as some of the things my inner critic has said.

I have another little secret to share with you: If someone is nasty, it’s a reflection on how unhappy they are, not on you. There is a very big difference between constructive criticism and someone who is simply being mean. Remember that, always!

I hope you found these tips helpful! In the next part of this two-part podcast episode, we will talk a little more about the opportunities that lie on the other side of the fear of visibility.

If these tips give you the confidence to share your art on Instagram, which I hope they did, please tag me on moderngypsy.in so that I can send you some love and cheer you along on your journey!

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Posted in The Art with Soul Podcast.

19 Comments

  1. I didn’t know you have a podcast, Shinjani. Next time you publish it, do tag me on Twitter.

    Coming to the post, I am no artist, just a plain writer. But recently, I have started writing letters to my son documenting our food, culture and tradition. I don’t know if I can share them with my familiar readers. I am baring out my soul in them and too scared to reveal it.

    Your post gave me hope that someday, I can share it with the world.

    • I’ll do that, Pushpanjalee! I publish the podcast on the 1st and 15th, and you can also subscribe on iTunes or Spotify if you like.

      The letters you’re writing to your son sound like such a beautiful legacy that you will leave him with! If you do decide to publish them {and I hope you do!} please tag me on Twitter. I would absolutely love to read them!

  2. Loved your article and podcast. Self criticism is I feel biggest drawback yet a boon also. It either discourage you or takes you to the next level and coming out of the discouragement and letting go of your fears is very important to establish your art.

  3. I could completely reIate to this, Shinjini as I am into the art field. I was someone who was a prey to my inner critic who was never satisfied with my art work. Slowly I started sharing them with my family and friends who appreciated almost all of my works. Now, I’ve recently sold a few of my paintings. 🙂

  4. We are our worst critics and sometimes the inner critic can hold us back. This is a very inspirational post. We all have a few posts that we are too scared to share with the world because it bares a little too much of our soul than we would like! I can’t draw, even to save my own life! But I loved your artwork. I am glad that you decided to share it with the world 🙂

  5. I really love how deep you have taken this topic.So warm and supportive.In the very beginning of your art journey the words you share…deeply reminds me of one of my dear friends worried words saying her art looked like “kids play”,and I got to warmly support and witness her through it.I am grateful you are covering this topic as I have a place to direct current and future friends that face the same beginnings or the re surging inner critic pangs of paralyzing death stares/shivers.You have answered every twist and turn in the beginning of the inner critics resurgence of poking words.I feel it is such an intimate journey of our becoming..shedding off layers of expectation to unpeel to our brilliant inner butterfly. and personal leadership.That is sharing our expression.I feel these words even extend to other forms of art as well.I will be redirecting many of my friends here to listen all the way to the end of this episode.I know it will help many who are fearful of the online space.sharing art to personal FB page I do that sometimes and forget about it.YES there are many warm supportive creative spaces on facebook groups where we are waiting and delighted to cheer on artists,writers and creatives.great show notes,Shinjini! So much warm love felt in this invitation for all to share their expression

    • Thank you so much, Reena – I am so glad that the podcast feels inspiring and supportive. I remember my initial fears of sharing my work very well, and if I can encourage and support fellow artists and creatives along on their journey of greater expression, it would give me nothing but the greatest joy! And thank you for your beautiful question. I have some more layers to peel…to more fully answer your question on the next episode. xx

  6. It’s so refreshing and inspiring to read your post! I really feel that you need to train your mind a lot! I still can not share my art on my social media platforms!

  7. A much needed post, I think fir most of us it’s our inner critic that stops us from sharing it to the world. We constantly overthink and fail to showcase what we have within us.

  8. I loved this thoughtful article. There must be so much of talent hiding behind the fear of coming out into the open.
    Your account of your own experience and your tips will go a long way in helping such people.
    Well done!

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