Confidence, Objectivity, and Art

LittleBigFoot

Confident
How do you build confidence in yourself (in general lol) in regards to art you create?

I’m tired of hearing from people in person that I’m supposedly very talented in my paintings when I don’t feel like I’m anywhere close. I try to look at it objectively to find where this talent is and I can say in contests and art shows I hit about mid range. On Instagram I have a small (like 200) following but I feel good about it because they are all strangers and have no obligation to me.

Where I really struggle is with people I know in person and on Facebook. These are the people who will in person tell me they love my work and that I should open a business or push my work out more. But I think they are complete liars and aren’t comfortable with potentially hurting my feelings. Because on Facebook they are no shows except like three people. I have tried pushing things and even starting businesses several times and it gets ignored like I’m invisible.

I know Facebook algorithms contribute to this but it really kills any confidence or drive because it feels they just say things to make me shut up and their real feelings are that they would rather I wasn’t bothering them at all with my presence.

It hurts because I see other people get a shit ton of promotion and love and attention so publicly on there and I’m apparently just not worth it to my family.

How do I just get my confidence from objective things rather than depend on them to show me they care?
 

ruborcoraxxx

MyPTSD Pro
Okay, so this is my actual profession, so really all what you’re saying is like, oh dear, the father and the holy ghost of the field’s nightmare.

m tired of hearing from people in person that I’m supposedly very talented
Yep. Very few people will tell you upfront you’re an untalented [insert slur]. However, some do. And it’s very damaging. That did happen to me that a few pricks just decided that my work was bad and started crucifying me in front of everyone (I couldn’t respond because they were art historians and it was a jury), to the point even the school director was shocked because it really was unfair and aggressive. I got apologies after from the direction (not formal though) but it really was a horrible moment and I had a raging blackout the same day.

So really as much as I think we do survive criticism, I do prefer the slight hypocrisy of people who don’t really know what they’re talking about, because a lot of the time when people compliment you, they’re complimenting you and they don’t know how to place the compliment because they aren’t artists themselves, so talented comes up as a sort of handy term and they don’t realize it might feel like a lie, because you’re picking up they don’t know. But even if things aren’t to their taste, they might use talented as a way to consider that even if they don’t like it, it might still be good and many think they would not be able to see the difference anyway, so you land with this middle-of-the-road comment. It really can be quite meaningless, but trust me it’s much better than having folks just coming in and having the petty face because they want to look superior and shit on your work as to value themselves. These ones also do exist.

when I don’t feel like I’m anywhere close
you can have great talent and poor practice. Or a lot of practice, but poor talent. Or both, or none. Perhaps you do have talent, but feel insecure because you haven’t exercised enough as to build yourself a style, or just struggle with self-insurance. Then when people compliment you it feels like it’s a lie and gaslighting because basically your brain is blaring cognitive dissonance. While their assessment might be true and yours faulty because of self-esteem and/or not knowing the field very well. In that case it’s always better to receive the compliments and pretend and start the conversation from there to socialize.

But I think they are complete liars and aren’t comfortable with potentially hurting my feelings.
I value people not wanting to hurt my feelings, albeit they aren’t really understanding that if everyone tells you the same thing then you don’t know who thinks what and that it leaves you in a ??? shitty spot. But again it might not be a lie per se as them not knowing what to say because they don’t trust their own taste. I don’t know the specifics of your situation but it happens a lot with artists coming from families that aren’t acquainted with art.


I try to look at it objectively to find where this talent is and I can say in contests and art shows I hit about mid range.
That’s really nice already! Don’t forget it isn’t etched in stone and you always can improve with more practice and refinement.

On Instagram I have a small (like 200) following but I feel good about it because they are all strangers and have no obligation to me.
That’s good!

-> For both of the above, try to see if you can get some objective feedback. By objective feedback I’m not saying extracting someone a book about art history relating to your work, but what they like or dislike and why. It’s quite difficult to get that though as people are skittish and worried they might be wrong about their taste. Never ignore that as much it’s hard for us to do something we like, some people feel like exposing themselves and explain why they like something is putting them on spot or something. Some don’t. So you’ll have to initiate conversation and it’s all a workload in itself… hey, I saw you liked my things, I like your account too (pick a few you do like so you don’t have to lie) because this and that, I’m curious of what you think because X in your account, yada yada… and you might have a very better feedback and understanding on how your work is received. IT’S A HELLUVA LOT OF WORK. I do find it absolutely exhausting, and often fail to do it and it’s normal. Some artists have the PR vibe and others don’t. And here welcome to emotional dysreg land, one second I’m the champion of it and the second after I actually wonder why I am alive. Seriously. (But I’d rather die than showing I want to die lol)

Because on Facebook they are no shows except like three people.
Facebook isn’t a good place for this. It’s a social network, not a PR one and the interface is already rather ugly and corporate, it doesn’t make your work look good, reactions are confusing and everyone sees who you are and what you like. On IG even if you can find out who people are, the interface is very much devoted to make anything look alright and people have aliases and can appear on their funnier, funky vibe so they’ll be really more eager to have reactions to that kind of context. That wasn’t true before IG existed but since it was opened it sucked all the artiness of Facebook somewhere else. Now all that’s left is blue and calendars of events. Pictures of the show used to be a thing but now it’s almost over and few places still bother to publish content on both platforms.

and I’m apparently just not worth it to my family.
Many people have something against art. Because "you can’t make a living out of it" or if you happen to do, then it’s even worse because it’s your lazy ass producing money! Honestly, I’ve seen this too many times! Your family’s job is to support you in pursuing your dreams. And perhaps they do. Personally I feel super embarrassed when my family publicly "likes" my stuff on Facebook (happened with old postings of when I started) because it looks a bit like that proud mom bragging about how their normal kids are so amazing. Which is totally normal for a mom. But not in the professional field. Like, you don’t want to have your family to applaud publicly you if you sold a shoe. Even if you would appreciate they give you the pride and the positive feedback when you speak to them, and how happy they are that you are a good shoe seller, regardless of what they think of shoe sellers in general or if they like the shoe you did sell.

How do I just get my confidence from objective things rather than depend on them to show me they care?
Train. Do art for yourself. For the reasons you want to do it. For the reasons it makes you feel good.

Then ask for feedback from people who actually are knowledgeable about art and the others that do like art. (Not exactly the same crew).

Also know that there is very good art that goes totally unnoticed, and utter shit that is published in golden books. That the art world also is racist and sexist. Terribly sexist. Ridiculously racist. The art world just reproduces the exact same terrible dynamics than anywhere else. So it also can be very unfair. This you have to know and be prepared against.

So this is why I recommend you do what you love, radically, no compromises. Accept criticisms and try to improve, but also not to loose track of what you love and want to do and like to make. People’s opinions are people’s opinions. They can be right or wrong. You can adjust your PR and social style to try to reach the audience that can be interested by what you do, but you shouldn’t adapt overly for that audience, assuming you’re doing visual arts and not decoration (and even). (and I don’t think decoration is lesser than "pure" arts.)

This advice I had from a collector: Always buy stuff with your heart, not to make investments. You can make investments. But never ever buy something you don’t like because you want to get money from it later. Because it’s always a risk, and sometimes you can’t resell the thing because no one likes it. If you like it, happy you it will sit in your living room. If you find it’s ugly, then you’ll have to see that ugly thing you paid and can’t get the money back and you will want to hide from it!

I’m quite certain that if you’re on an alternate route outside of the artschool track, you can find nice communities on Deviantart (that’s an old one lol) or Discord servers that provide feedback on stuff. The best is to go in person to art openings and start to mingle with folks and make yourself a person people do see regularly. It’s silly but that’s important. It’s the backbone of the profession, being there all the time. Yes, exhausting. I’d say once a week to once a month is good. Depending on where you live and if it’s accessible.

I hope this helps!
 

LittleBigFoot

Confident
@ruborcoraxxx I absolutely love your answer, you were so freaking thorough and knowledgeable. I’m sorry I haven’t been on in a while.
were art historians and it was a jury
So the competitions I’ve participated in have been more peer review then jury because I’m terrified of inviting something so formal and rigid to look at my work for the very reasons yours was bad. I’m so sorry that happened by the way. Juries and judges scare me.
they’re complimenting you and they don’t know how to place the compliment because they aren’t artists themselves
This is a good point I should remember. My family is definitely not art oriented in any fashion so I guess I should keep my expectations with that in mind. Some of my friends though are in the industry and when they don’t comment/like/whatever it does really sting. One in particular is close friends with my mother and through her he will critique me but says and does absolutely nothing publicly in spite of us supposedly being friends as well.
when people compliment you it feels like it’s a lie and gaslighting
This feels accurate for every compliment ever, not just regarding art 😕
try to see if you can get some objective feedback
This was an awesome idea that I’ve never thought of but already trying to think of different ways to implement it. Thank you so much!
Personally I feel super embarrassed when my family publicly "likes" my stuff on Facebook (happened with old postings of when I started) because it looks a bit like that proud mom bragging about how their normal kids are so amazing.
I hadn’t thought of this, but I definitely see your point.
Also know that there is very good art that goes totally unnoticed, and utter shit that is published in golden books
This is true and I’ve noticed it and am frustrated by it, definitely goes for any type of art too.
art world also is racist and sexist
Really? I’d love to learn more about this. I haven’t seen it first hand yet and I would think it would be the opposite considering art promotes being at least somewhat open minded.

You’ve had some seriously awesome ideas and I’m going to get started on lining up art shows to attend and get myself out there more. Thank you for all of this, I really appreciate the thought you’ve put into it.
 

grit

Not Active
I feel this a serious post but the little lol made me laugh. Yeah people often said many things...how many great writers rejected or how many amazing artist died trying to be relevant...only become ridiculously game change.

I bet you have something to say, show or convey...it only takes one important person to cross our path to influence us significantly...and many shitty to poop on our art!
I would say f*ck them!😆
 

Friday

Moderator
It hurts because I see other people get a shit ton of promotion and love and attention so publicly on there and I’m apparently just not worth it to my family.

I overcompartmentalize, so I’m not saying it’s the way to be, or anything to aspire to… it’s just what I do… but I don’t mix my family life, and my professional life, as a general rule.

Because mixing business & family? Is seeeeeeriously risky business. On so many fronts. Not the least of which is that someone is gonna get their feelings hurt, but those hurt feeling often blow up so far/fast/out of control that relationships end over it. I value my family too much to risk losing them, and I value my sanity too much to deal with totally unnecessary drama & politicking.

Does excluding them also hurt feelings? Yep. Which is why including without involving? Is an artform in and of itself!

There are too many other things in life to fight about, and cry about, that actually matter -or that I have no choice in- where we’re EQUALS… to let my livelihood or passions (or theirs!) be one of them.
 
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