Visibility and the artist: Honoring your artist’s soul

In today’s episode of the Art with Soul podcast, we continue our conversation on the fear of visibility, focusing this time on the possibilities that lie on the other side of our fears of sharing our work and being seen. I share some stories from my own journey, as I shed some of my fears and reached for new possibilities, and offer some ideas and things to consider as you navigate your own artist’s journey. You’ll find a written transcript of the podcast {edited for readability} below.

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In the previous episode of the Art with Soul podcast, we spoke about the fear of visibility, especially as it relates to sharing our work. In this episode, I delve into this topic a bit deeper, and try to address my friend Reena’s original question a bit better.

Here’s what she asked:

“Would you do a podcast episode about visibility and the artist. As an artist it is something i struggle with.. yet I know each layer of it that i do shakes away… brings sparkles of opportunities to share my expression beyond me.. as blog posts, as interviews for a series. as collabs. and finally as submissions to a community publication. do you relate to this? and what tips do you have from your art journey.”

This is such an interesting, juicy conversation to have on the creative journey. The subject of visibility and what it leads to and even means for each one of us varies depending on where we are and what we want from our art journeys.

What lies on the other side of the fear of visibility

Once we get over the fear of our art not being good enough {you can catch up with that episode here} and start sharing our work and interacting with fellow artists, an interesting thing starts to happen. We suddenly start to bloom. We want more art and beauty and connections with people from around the world who speak our language. We have more ideas and dreams for things we can do with our art, and more ways of expression. Be it a desire to sell some art or do some commissions, or even simply to gift paintings to family and friends, or to leave some of our artwork out in the wild for people to find and savor.

Looking at my own artist’s journey, once I got over the fear of what other people would think and how they would react to my work, I slowly started to realize that I do know quite a bit about this whole art thing. The more I learnt and the more I practiced my art, the more I wanted to start sharing some of my knowledge and techniques. And here’s a little secret:

Sharing your knowledge and techniques helps you to deepen your own knowledge and mastery over them too!

Talking about your art

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

I decided to share my work via a series of blog posts. There was a very popular daily blogging challenge held every April called the A to Z challenge, where bloggers would write 26 posts inspired by a word that began with each alphabet. I decided to participate in that challenge, focusing on the A to Z of art journaling. That one experience widened my horizons in ways I probably couldn’t have imagined!

Once the challenge was over, I took those blog posts and turned it into a rich 50-odd page ebook, which I share freely so that it may help people who are getting started on their own art journeys.

If that is you, click on the button below to download the ebook now!

Putting that ebook together and offering it freely helped me to peel off some more layers of the fear of visibility – this time not so much about sharing my art, but about my blooming identity as an artist.

I started to receive some beautiful feedback for that ebook from people who had downloaded it, and that feedback became something that I could anchor into every time my imposter syndrome kicked in. That feedback also helped me become a lot more confident about my artistic voice.

And all from the relatively simple task of writing 26 posts on 26 different aspects and techniques related to art journaling.

Finding opportunities beyond art

The confidence that I gained from that experiences helped me to say yes to other opportunities that came knocking at my door.

  • I was invited to speak at a blogger’s event, something that would previously have terrified me and been an immediate “no”.
  • I did a few commissions, though I quickly realized I didn’t really enjoy them, so I stopped doing them – but it was a valuable experience because this is something a lot of us assume we should be doing, when it may not really be the thing for us.
  • I started teaching art.
  • I was invited to guest teach on Pull Pen Paint, a year-long ecourse on art, journaling, tarot, and intuition development.
  • My work was featured at a curated group art show
  • I was featured on artist Louise Primeau’s website

Having the confidence to share not just your art but your knowledge and your viewpoint, to be confident enough to hit the submit button on gallery invitations, to say yes to collaboration opportunities and invitations that feel way out of your comfort zone – all of this lies on the other side of that fear of visibility.

Allowing yourself to be seen and refining your voice

But first, you have to allow yourself to be seen. And you have to start to refine your voice. That happens when you start to speak to an audience, be it a few friends you talk to in person or a wider audience that you reach through things like blog posts, videos, or podcasts.

More than what anyone else says, when you take that first step to put your knowledge out into the world, it’s a declaration you make to yourself about your confidence in your own abilities and knowledge. You also start to feel surer and on firmer footing – a feeling that begins to extend beyond art and into other areas of your life.

Gaining clarity on your artist’s journey

person with body painting
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

When you start saying yes to the opportunities that come up, you also learn what you like and don’t like to do as an artist.

There are many different avenues we can take with our work. The problem arises when we think that artistic success needs to look a certain way – maybe you think it means getting regular commissions, or being published, or showing your work at an art show.

But unless you go out and do the thing, you won’t know if you really enjoy it. Even worse, your inner critic will use those collective markers of success – that may not even be important to you – to try and convince you that you’re not good enough.

It may tell you things like you’re not a successful or good enough artist because you’re not getting commissions or selling your work – when in reality, you may find that you don’t enjoy either of these! Your idea of success as an artist may be something completely different.

What does artistic success mean to you?

On my own journey, it was only by saying yes to commissions that I learnt that it was a “no” for me. So now my inner critic can’t use that as a prop to beat me up.

I’ve used examples like commissions and art shows only to give you an idea of what I thought a successful artist looks like, and I think a lot of artists equate similar things with success.

If you were to ask me my what artistic success look like to me – while there are still a few things I am figuring out – the one marker that has remained constant for me is this:

If I can inspire even one person to pick up a paintbrush and paint, I will consider myself a successful artist.

By that measure, I’m a super star! I’ve had many people reach out and tell me my posts or videos or photographs of my process inspired them to pick up a paintbrush again, or even for the first time.

And this happened only because I found the confidence to share my artistic expression.

Each new thing that you share, each new evolution of your own artist’s soul can be a bit scary. The negative voices in your head can try and hold you back at any stage of the artist’s journey. Almost constant self-doubt is fairly common, and not just among artists and creatives. But each step that you take, each yes that you say, each time that you show up for yourself, that doubt subsides a little.

Don’t confuse visibility with external validation

That’s the other thing I want to say about visibility. It’s not something we do purely for an external audience or external validation – unless we make it all about the numbers, which it isn’t – it’s something that we do for ourselves. Because we have this inner urge to express who we are…what we stand for…what moves us…what brings us joy and healing and peace…what helps us process our feelings.

We do this by showing up for ourselves first. And when we share our voice and our perspectives wider, it becomes our opportunity to give back to the community.

When you look at it from this perspective, the fear of visibility can become a little easier to overcome.

Because there will always be plenty of artists {yay!} and someone will almost always be “better” than you, but regardless, your voice and your expression is valid. And when you share it in the world, you make the world a little more beautiful by that sharing.

What Van Gogh can teach you about visibility

shallow focus photo of a woman holding van gogh book
Photo by Wilson Vitorino on Pexels.com

My coach had shared a very interesting perspective with me, back when I was still hesitant and afraid of sharing my work.

Just imagine….what if Van Gogh had put all of his paintings in a drawer and never shared them? Or put away his art materials because his work was almost always rejected? The world would be so much poorer for it.

Your mind may immediately counter this by saying Oh, Van Gogh is a Capital A Artist, a Master Artist, who am I to compare myself with him?

What you need to remember is that Van Gogh didn’t get the recognition his work so richly deserved in his lifetime. His work rejected by all the major galleries and salons of his times; he was poor and destitute, supported by his brother and friends. But by being true and authentic to himself, by never giving up on his artist’s soul, he left us a rich legacy of art that is savored today by millions of people around the world.

Here’s the important thing: Our art doesn’t have to be comparable to any of the masters of old – or even of modern, contemporary times. BUT, our art has the ability to become a legacy for our families – and that is a beautiful and valuable and valid objective.

When you model showing up for your art – or for anything that fills you with meaning and purpose and joy – you’re teaching your children and grandchildren and siblings and families a powerful life lesson on self-care and authenticity.

So no matter what success looks like for you – a full time working artist, an art educator, an artist with gallery representation, or a passionate artist who creates mainly for personal enjoyment – allowing yourself and your artist’s story to be seen by a wider community {which could just be your circle of friends and family} is the biggest legacy you can leave in this world.

That’s some of what lies on the other side of the fear of visibility, and some of the directions that my own artists journey has taken me on. It’s your turn to take the leap, and I’m cheering you on!

If these tips give you the confidence to share your art more widely, which I hope it does, please tag me {or DM me} on Instagram {@moderngypsy.in} so that I can send you some love and cheer you along on your journey!

If there’s a particular topic you’d like me to discuss on the podcast, drop me a message here or in the comments below.

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Posted in The Art with Soul Podcast.

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