5 Excuses Artists Make to Avoid Creating

Are you making excuses not to create art right now?

Making art can be one of the most fulfilling ways to spend your time. For me, creating gives me peace, a sense of accomplishment, access to a flow state of being, and a fun way to make a mess. Though, it can also bring with it loads of frustration and struggle, because it’s not always easy to bring our artistic visions to life. This is why we can find ourselves making excuses not to create our art.

These excuses save us from the pain of creating. Or at least that’s our hope.

I have walked away from my art numerous times. I’ve made a lot of excuses over the years, but here are 5 excuses I, and many other artists, have used to walk away from creating. None of these are viable excuses, and after reading this I encourage you to stop yourself from using them in the future, because that little critic in your head is just standing in your way.

Excuse #1 “I’m not an artist.”

This excuse is a classic one. How can I make art if I’m not even an artist? In 2012, I sat down with one of my English professors and told him “I’m not an artist” when he asked me to create art for a new textbook he was writing for the English department. His look and following words of encouragement prevented me from ever using that excuse again.

Even though I wanted to make art and I loved to create, I told myself over and over again that I wasn’t an artist as an excuse not to create. I took a crap ton of art classes in high school and college, and yet the little voice in my head kept saying “Nope. You’re still not an artist.” Why? Because making art is hard and failure in many forms is inevitable. I was terrified the work I produced would suck, so I made an excuse to get out of it.

You can’t let “I’m not an artist” be your excuse to walk away from creating, because that title belongs to anyone who creates. It’s not bestowed upon you by a school, an expert, an employer, or your mom. If you make art (any and all definitions of it), you’re an artist. Even if you just make art for fun, you’re an artist. So cross that excuse off your list.

Excuse #2 “I’m not good at Art.”

I tried playing Dance Dance Revolution for the first time at an arcade a few weeks ago, and wow was I bad at that. Does that mean I’m bad at dancing? I mean–maybe. Does that mean I should never ever try it again, because since I sucked at it the first time I’m always going to suck? Absolutely not!

You can suck at something but love the process so much that it doesn’t matter. Also, you can also suck at something right now and become a master of that same something in the future, because you keep powering through painful practice sessions. You have to give yourself the opportunity to grow. I know it feels unpleasant, but even if the art you make is hideous and technically terrible right now, it’s not a good excuse to stop yourself from creating. It’s actually the perfect reason to create more.

Who cares if you are good or bad at art? Make art anyway.

Excuse #3 “I won’t succeed.”

I have said this excuse to myself too many times to count and it stopped me in my tracks. I’d think about a cool image I wanted to create, and then I’d start evaluating the point of even trying to make to create it when I’d remember there was a possibility of failing. What if it’s ugly? What if nobody likes it? I deprived myself of valuable experiences thanks to the mere thought of the end result not being what I wanted.

Maybe your art never turns into a career and maybe you don’t make money or win awards. Maybe a whole bunch of things, but how will you know if you don’t try? How will you see your own potential if you don’t show up and do the work? How will you push your limits if you don’t find out where they are in the first place?

This is an excuse that I know a lot of us use to prevent ourselves from creating. What’s the point, right? If I’m going to fail, why not avoid that potential failure by not even starting the project? Easy, right?! Except when you finally see that the end result doesn’t matter right now. All that matters is that you have a creative vision, and you must try to bring it to life. You owe it to yourself to try.

Excuse #4 “There are more talented creators out there.”

Yeah, so?

Social media has made this excuse even more powerful because we can constantly compare ourselves to other creators. There will always be artists with more skill or success than you, but that doesn’t mean you have to make it into a competition. You do not need to measure your worth against another artist. There will always be room for your art in the world. We are all using the same tools and being inspired by the same subjects and experiences, yet we all have a voice to add to the conversation.

Do your thing. There isn’t another you out there.

Excuse #5 “I don’t have the right supplies.”

This excuse not to create hits artists at all levels and disciplines. Sometimes we have a new idea, but we don’t have the supplies to follow that creative whim, so we just don’t create at all. And sometimes we just don’t have the money for what we believe to be the right supplies.

Art supplies can be ridiculously expensive. I get that money can limit us sometimes. When companies use labels like “academic”, “student grade”, “intermediate”, and “professional” it’s no surprise that a lot of artists have it in their heads that you need the good stuff in order to make good art. Well, I’m here to say this isn’t true, and not having the “right” supplies shouldn’t prevent you from creating.

You can make high-quality art with cheap supplies. Go ahead and look at the top posts using #ballpointpendrawing on Insta. The right supplies are just supplies that can be used to make art. That can literally be anything around you. I’m not saying the good stuff isn’t worth investing in down the road, but I am saying that you can substitute a functionally equivalent product with a much cheaper price right now to get started.

So go get yourself a cheap back of Bic pens and any surface to create on. Cardboard, printer paper, old book pages. Or make collages out of junk mail. Find objects on the street and make sculptures. Your creativity is limitless. The world is full of supplies.

There are no viable excuses not to create.

Creating art is a wonderful activity, but it’s not always easy. Push through your excuses and ask yourself if that little voice in your head that keeps making excuses actually has a different motive. Like, trying to protect you from “failure”? With anything in life, we are tempted to make excuses to avoid unpleasant work while also sacrificing the benefits that come with it.

Stop making excuses and go make art.

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P.S. You probably know by now that I am here to help artists 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.

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4 Replies to “5 Excuses Artists Make to Avoid Creating”

  1. I will put this on my wall! Exactly what I needed today! And probably some other day.
    Thank you!

  2. It seems like artists of all kinds tend to trap themselves with a fixed mindset about the world. Teach people how to break free Kelly! Great article!

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