Imposter Syndrome

In college I could barely socialize with any of my peers because I thought they were all ten steps ahead of me and I didn’t belong there. I had feelings of inadequacy, no matter the feedback I received from professors or peers. I didn’t show my art as much as I could have in the student gallery. I didn’t get involved in school sponsored clubs. I stuck to my self and that only hurt me.

“The imposter syndrome is a psychological term referring to a pattern of behavior where people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized  fear of being exposed as a fraud.”

What changed? I create. I say yes to opportunities. I keep myself open to learning from others. I found a supportive community of artists.

Stop Comparing

Just do that.

Art is Life

I was consistently asked by the oblivious what I would do with art, as in: how would I make a living. I struggled to find a home in other academics. I dropped out of college once because I was so directionless. But I had a passion and it saved me from myself and I went back. That is what “they” do not understand. Some of us are lit from within. What “they” didn’t see are the careers, here is a very incomplete and most obvious list of possible professional art careers:

  • graphic designer: newspapers, magazines, sign shops, print shops
  • website designer
  • professional photographer: wedding, graduation, lifestyle, freelance, product
  • illustrator
  • jeweler

How do I make a living as an artist? I do not yet. My original work sells. I get commissions. The prints of my work sell. I currently have a day job working as a certified nurses aid, and I love that work as well. A lot has changed since the rise of Etsy and the handmade market, the general population finds handmade more desirable.

Be Honest With Your Work

The value of Art School was being among my peers and going through critique. It was the time spent pushing my brain to “see” clearly and learning the elements of design. Inside that atmosphere to get the most of it, I had to let go of my ego. (That ego obstructs artistic growth).

I try to remain open to criticism from people. Even if I “know” they are wrong I try to ‘see’ my work from their perspective, and it is often better for it.

Learn These Sooner

Learn from anyone set in your path. They all know something you do not.

Take advantage of your current situation. If it is school, join art clubs, participate, show your work.

Find your people. Go to local art events. Don’t be intimidated.

Once you find them, maybe get involved.

Not everyone is going to be nice, not everyone is going to be unfriendly. Try to let it roll off of your shoulders.

Have a body of work gallery ready (who knows when you will be able to fill a last minute show). Have a portfolio ready to show. Have business cards ready. Have words ready to describe your work. Have a bio and an artist statement. Build your website.

Keep learning. About marketing, business, art and business, you-tube videos about your medium of choice. Lately I’ve been deep diving LinkedIn and found promising content.

What lessons did you learn that you wish you could tell your younger artist self? Let me know in the comments.

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Taryn Okesson: Visual Artist