Recently I put a call out for questions, and I plan to answer all of them over time! Here’s one from Lori:
Q: At what point did you feel comfortable with your work…I mean, when did you start to share? I like what I’m doing (sometimes), but the thought of actually letting someone else see it – and, gulp, critique it, still scares the sox off of me! Did you experience this? How’d you conquer it? Confidence is a weird thing!
A: One thing that helped early on was taking “live” classes where I got immediate feedback, either from the instructor or the other students, so by the time I put things out for my first art sale, I already knew that my art appealed to some people.
However, that first sale was so painful that I determined NEVER to do it again. Basically, 98% of the people glanced briefly at my art and then kept walking without any apparent reaction. I was pretty crushed….
But a year later I was encouraged by a friend to try again, and that time it was easier. I began to realize that it was pretty “normal” for most people to not really respond to my artwork; I was on my way to developing a thicker skin.
When I started selling on etsy in 2005, I had a new body of work (Girls) that I was a little nervous to show. But I found the internet to be a pretty painless place for me… I could put it out there and didn’t have to watch people click away!
By the time I did large outdoor art/craft shows from 2006-2008, I was used to most people not stopping or reacting, and grateful for the small percentage that liked and bought my girl paintings.
It’s not easy all the time, though. It was difficult to overhear some of the not-so-nice remarks people made. Even though my skin was pretty thick by that point, I still could get stung, and it’s one reason I don’t do those shows anymore!
Showing your art is a scary thing. It’s a really brave thing to do, I think.
I advise to start small, in a safe environment. Perhaps a small craft show somewhere, or online on facebook, a blog, or etsy. (Note: Sometimes your family members might not be the best place to start, especially if they themselves aren’t interested in art.)
Then, try not to take “non-reactions” personally. And be encouraged that most people will either be positive or indifferent, but rarely are they outright critical; though thousands and thousands of people passed my booths those three years, I only remember 2 or 3 comments that were really critical.
It definitely takes time to grow that confidence, and the fear of putting yourself out there never really goes away completely. But I encourage you to try anyway. Art is meant to be shared, I think!