Will You Ever Be Good Enough?

Have you been holding yourself back from a creative endeavor, because you have a nagging voice in your head that says but I’m not good enough yet? It says things like I can’t share my art online. I can’t apply to that group show. I can’t show this to my family. I can’t start a YouTube channel. I can’t until I am better at this.

Does this sound familiar?

I do this to myself a lot. I have projects I want to do right now, but that little voice pops up and is like nah, you’re not good at this.

While there is immense value in self awareness and being able to judge your own abilities, few of us are fair judges of our own work. While you waste time wondering if you are good enough to do what you dream of, you may be letting opportunities pass you by to get there.

So when exactly are you good enough to try something?

Right f***ing now.

I know I know, you might need some more convincing, so let’s dive deeper.

What is good enough?

If you find yourself thinking you’re not good enough to do “X”, I encourage you to examine your standards for what is enough. I bet you’re being unfair and standing in your own way.

Who are you comparing yourself to?

Let’s say you want to become a watercolorist and you follow @kelogsloops on Instagram. With 1.2 million followers and a mastery of magically blended skin tones–it would be easy for anyone to feel like they aren’t good enough to do what this artist is doing. If you’re just starting out, you’re not going to be at this artist’s level, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get there, and that doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough to try.

Don’t fall into a comparison trap. Everyone has a different journey. It’s okay to set your sights high and have idols and role models, but if those people are making you feel sad and unworthy, then I suggest you stop comparing.

Are you expecting too much too fast?

Everyone has to start somewhere. There isn’t a shortcut to being awesome and humble origins are abundant in the creative field. If you are expecting to gain 100k Instagram followers in a month, that’s too much too fast. If you are expecting to get a solo gallery show before you’ve picked up a paint brush, that’s too much too fast.

Sure, anything can happen, and some people hit it lucky with their creative endeavors–but don’t expect to skip all the hard parts and go straight to the success. It’d be great, don’t get me wrong. I dream about some pretty fanciful outcomes for my career, but the moment those dreams turn into expectations they sow the seeds of disappointment.

Dream big, but put your head down and do the work.

Remember, there is growth in simply trying.

Alright, let’s say you apply to a gallery show and you truly aren’t ready. What’s the worst that is going to happen? You don’t get in? Or let’s say you start a YouTube channel to share art tutorials and you don’t get any subscribers. Or you share your art on Instagram and you don’t get new followers.

If you don’t get the results you expected, this is an opportunity to grow. Going through the work to even try to pursue your goals will inevitably lead to growth. When we fail, we learn even more. When we fail, learn, fail, learn, fail, learn and repeat this over time–we find ourselves years down the road with memories and experiences of a creative life fully lived and explored.

You don’t have to be good enough to try.

Get started now.

You don’t have to be great. You don’t have to be the best. You don’t have to compare yourself to anyone. You’re never going to reach a point where you exclaim “I’ve done it! I am officially good enough!” Creative people rarely get that sense of satisfaction, and that’s a good thing! Keep setting your sights higher and higher.

If your thoughts of not being good enough now lead you to the false conclusion that you won’t ever be good enough, then I encourage you to tell your inner critic to kindly f*** off. Declaring you’re not good enough protects you from disappointment because it prevents you from trying something new, but it also prevents you from growing and moving forward.

If I’m not good enough thoughts don’t lead you to seek ways to improve, then they serve no purpose and you can and should ignore them.

Today. Right now. This very second, you are good enough to take the first step to doing what you want to do. Start small. Take baby steps.

You are good enough. Let me say that a little louder: YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH!

Now go make awesome things.

***

Please leave questions and comments below while commenting is open or reach out to me directly through Instagram or email. I’d love to hear from you! Make sure to sign up for my email list below to never miss a blog post. New posts are published every week (kind of). And if you’d like to see more content like this in the future, consider becoming a Patron of mine! (See details below.)

-Kelly

@messyeverafter

P.S. You probably know by now that I am here to help artist’s with these posts. If you need help with your online branding, Instagram account, or just want a creative accountability coach, then check out my consulting services. You can easily add a session to my online calendar now.

Read more about my consulting services and book an appointment today.

Do want to help me create more blog content? I want to keep providing content like this for free, but I need your help. If you enjoy my blog posts and gain any inspiration from the content I put out there, please consider becoming a Patron of Messy Ever After on Patreon. Pledging just $1 a month enables me to keep helping artists like you. Plus, you get extra little perks!

Further Reading:

Is Anybody Listening to You?

Encouragement for creatives presenting their work

What happens when you don’t get any reaction to your art or your words? Have you ever posted your art or a carefully written caption on social media only to hear crickets? Have you ever shown your art at a group show and had nobody show up or nobody wander past your work? Or when they do look at your work, they linger for a second and then continue walking without saying a word?

Does this crush you and make you feel like you’re failing, and nobody likes your art, you’re not unique enough to get attention, you aren’t a real artist, oh no what am I doing with my life, who am I, why did I even try?

Just me? Oh okay…

As a sensitive artist, I know that a lack of reaction from people around you can be just as unpleasant, and sometimes worse than someone coming right out and insulting your work. I’m very good at making up stories in silence. Honestly, silence between me and another human just cranks my insecurities and self-doubt on high. “If they aren’t saying nice things, they must be thinking a buttload of not-so-nice things.”

But this isn’t the case!

You cannot accept silence as a judgment of your work

I know this isn’t easy, but you have to reframe the silence and keep creating. I’ve been here. It’s natural to seek validation from our peers, and it sucks when you don’t get the validation you want–but let’s dive a little deeper into the silence you may be experiencing.

What do YOU do online or in person?

Do you write comments on every photo you see on social media? Do you gush about artists’ work to their faces when you are in public? Or are you a silent observer, thinking oh I like that before you continue scrolling?

As an introvert, I can tell you that ANY social interaction takes work. Work that I don’t often feel like exerting, because my energy is so damn precious to me. Before you interpret silence as judgment, consider just how many reclusive introverts are part of your audience.

What I like to do is pretend that these quiet introverts are screaming at the top of their internal voices “YESSSS! I LOVE THIS! KEEP MAKING MORE!” Because why not interpret the silence as something positive?

Are you expecting your audience to serve you?

Why are you posting your work online or showing at an event? What are you expecting? Obviously, selling your work is one expectation, but what else? Do you want people to praise you? Do you want people to validate you, to stroke your ego, to encourage you to continue creating, to make you feel good?

This is natural, and a lot of us hope for loads of praise when we put one of our creative babies out into the world–but don’t let this be your primary drive.

Instead, what are you doing for your audience? This is what I want you to focus on. What are you giving them? You’re there to serve your audience, and not the other way around. Silence could mean that you’re expecting too much and not giving enough.

There aren’t enough eyes on your work in general.

If you just started an Instagram account for your art and you have 35 followers, and half of them are friends and family–chances are good that you’re going to endure a lot of silence when you share your work. A lot.

Growing a dedicated following takes time and patience. Slow growth or silence don’t mean that your art isn’t valuable. It doesn’t mean that you should stop creating. It means the exact opposite. You should keep creating. Keep putting your work out there. Keep trying new ways to speak to your audience. Keep being you. Keep pushing. You will find your audience.

Musicians are a great example of this persistence and patience. You can ask any touring musician about how many empty rooms they have played to, and they will undoubtedly have tales to tell. Consider the silence as paying your creative dues until you grow your audience.

Don’t get distracted by the silence

Silence sucks. Especially when your confidence is shaky. I’m not going to pretend that silence doesn’t get to me, because oh boy does it make me uncomfortable, but when I hear crickets and feel discouraged, I think about the following questions.

  • Why do you create?
  • What are you here for?
  • What are you giving to those around you?
  • What is your message as an artist?
  • Do you find joy in the process of creating?
  • Does your art have meaning to you?
  • Are you showing up and putting in the work?

Knowing the answers to all of these questions gives me fuel to keep pushing no matter what kind of feedback I get. Silence, positive, or negative. The more you push, the more you will attract the right audience who will speak up more. It takes time. Until then, you have to learn to listen to yourself and ignore the outside world when in the midst of the creative process. You can present your work and hope for feedback when you are done, but don’t linger there waiting for someone to pat you on the back.

Post your art, hang it up at a show, but then get right back to work and start creating again. If you keep showing up, people will eventually listen to what you have to say.

***

Please leave questions and comments below while commenting is open or reach out to me directly through Instagram or email. I’d love to hear from you! Make sure to sign up for my email list below to never miss a blog post. New posts are published every week (kind of). And if you’d like to see more content like this in the future, consider becoming a Patron of mine! (See details below.)

-Kelly

@messyeverafter

P.S. You probably know by now that I am here to help artist’s with these posts. If you need help with your online branding, Instagram account, or just want a creative accountability coach, then check out my consulting services. You can easily add a session to my online calendar now.

Read more about my consulting services and book an appointment today.

Do want to help me create more blog content? I want to keep providing content like this for free, but I need your help. If you enjoy my blog posts and gain any inspiration from the content I put out there, please consider becoming a Patron of Messy Ever After on Patreon. Pledging just $1 a month enables me to keep helping artists like you. Plus, you get extra little perks!

Further Reading:

How to Define the Meaning of Your Art

Imagine you are at the opening of your first art show. Maybe it’s a group show. Your favorite work of art is hanging on the wall. You’re casually standing next to it while drinking a small glass of cheap box wine and trying to look super cool. Someone approaches and stares at your work.

“What does it mean?” They ask.

You try not to inhale the sip of wine you just took, because you realize you hadn’t really thought about it.

Say something smart!

“Uhhhh–it’s just pretty, I guess.”

Yes, I’ve been there. Hi, I’m Kelly and I feel super uncomfortable when people ask me about my art to my face. Don’t put me on the spot like that! Just kidding. I welcome questions now, but mostly because I’ve prepared a script in my head for all of questions I might get about my art.

Look, your art doesn’t have to have meaning. You don’t have to make art that has some grand purpose or message, but whether you are consciously aware of it or not at this moment, there is a whole world of meaning behind everything you do. You just have to connect the dots and tell a story. So, have you thought about what your art means? Are you struggling to figure it out?

It’s time to exercise a bunch of introspection and dissect the crap out of your art.

What does your art mean?

When I was working toward an art major in college, I had to sit through a lot of critique sessions. Some were helpful, and some were just painful. I learned that participating in the fine art world requires a fair amount of story telling. You are expected to tell people why your art is meaningful, which can be a huge struggle! As creators, we are too close to our work, and when we are just entering the creative world, we often have no idea how to speak the art language.

In order to figure out and define the meaning of your art, you need to ask yourself a lot of questions. The more questions you ask yourself, the clearer the meaning will become.

So, grab a piece of art you’ve finished and something to take notes, and then start writing down your answers to all the questions I’m going to ask below. You might find the meaning of your work after a few questions. You might need to mull them over for awhile. It can take some time. Be patient. I often don’t know the meaning of my own art until I’ve finished it and can stare at it for awhile.

Also, I should say that it’s okay to get wildly creative while answering these questions. In fact, I encourage it. Don’t be afraid to lean into your inner brooding art student and explore your emotional depths. Vulnerability is your friend here. If your first thought to any question below is “I don’t know, I just like it,” you need to dig deeper. There is more hiding beneath the surface.

I mean it when I say write these answers down! Get a pen and paper and fill pages with your internal ramblings.

Let’s begin:

Art supplies, color choices, composition, etc.
  • Why did you choose your preferred medium?
  • Why these colors? Why monochromatic? Why muted? Why pastel? Why saturated?
  • Why did you arrange the composition like this?
  • What does the symmetry or asymmetry mean to you?
  • How does the composition relate to your mental process while creating? Chaos vs simplicity?
  • What style trends do you see in your art? Why do you use them?
  • What techniques do you use most often? Why are you drawn to them?
  • Do you favor light or dark values? Why?
Subject matter, process, and you as the creator
  • What drew you to this subject?
  • What emotions did you capture?
  • What were you feeling when you created this?
  • What does your creative process feel like?
  • Where do you get your inspiration?
  • How do you move your body while creating?
  • Do you sit close to your work? Do you distance yourself from it? Why?
  • How long do you work on a piece before taking a break?
  • How long does it take you to finish a piece?
  • How do you recharge your creative battery while working?
  • Are you chaotic or logical while creating?
  • Why do you create?
  • How do you want people to feel when they look at your work?
  • What do you think about while creating?
  • Who did you make this art for? You or the world? Both?
  • What are you trying to say?
  • Is your art catharsis or commentary? Internally or externally motivated?

How’d that go? Need a little more help?

I’m going to pull samples of my art from years ago to give examples of how to define the meaning of your work. I will give a lazy answer or an introspective answer. I definitely used the lazy answer back when I created these, but as I said before, there is more beneath the surface.

Example Meaning #1: Bird Drawing

I drew this little bird in 2009 for a college project. Here are two ways to tackle the question: what does this art mean?

Lazy answer: I like birds. They’re pretty.

Introspective answer: I wanted to explore the tedious process of photorealism and why humans yearn to recreate the beauty of nature around them. The saturated colors of this humming bird match the verdant foliage surrounding it and you can’t help but feel uplifted while looking at it. I wanted to revel in the colors and enjoy the beauty as long as I could while filling in each square on the photorealism grid I drew.

Both answers are true, but can you see the difference? I’ll do one more.

Example Meaning #2: Ink Woman

This was drawn in 2012 while I was quite depressed. I lost my ability to draw while in such a dark place and so I started tracing magazine pictures and then applying India Ink just so I could have a finished product to look at.

Lazy Answer: Drawing this made me feel accomplished.

Introspective Answer: The darkness has a way of stealing your energy and your sense of identity. Through the simple act of tracing contours of magazine ads, I was able to find myself within the female figures I drew without harshly judging my abilities. The black India ink represents the darkness I was trying to overcome. The way she wears it confidently was my way of projecting belief in my own resilience to control the darkness.

Boom. Look at all that meaning.

I didn’t know why I was creating this art while it was happening. I couldn’t have told you the meaning while I was in the middle of my creative process. I needed to step back and evaluate the materials I used, the head space I was in, the intention for creating, the subjects I chose. There are no wrong answers, and the meaning of your art can change over time.

***

Does defining the meaning of your own work seem a little easier now?

Just ask questions and see where the answers lead you.

As I said before, your art doesn’t have to have meaning–but it inherently does even if you can’t define it yet. I hope these questions have helped to get you into an introspective mindset to get you closer to the meaning of your art. If not, I’m happy to help you further (check out my consulting services).

***

Please leave questions and comments below while commenting is open or reach out to me directly through Instagram or email. I’d love to hear from you! Make sure to sign up for my email list below to never miss a blog post. New posts are published every week (kind of). And if you’d like to see more content like this in the future, consider becoming a Patron of mine! (See details below.)

-Kelly

@messyeverafter

P.S. You probably know by now that I am here to help artist’s with these posts. If you need help with your online branding, Instagram account, or just want a creative accountability coach, then check out my consulting services. You can easily add a session to my online calendar now.

Read more about my consulting services and book an appointment today.

Do want to help me create more blog content? I want to keep providing content like this for free, but I need your help. If you enjoy my blog posts and gain any inspiration from the content I put out there, please consider becoming a Patron of Messy Ever After on Patreon. Pledging just $1 a month enables me to keep helping artists like you. Plus, you get extra little perks!

Further Reading: