I love talking about Art. As Editor of Art-Mantic there are days when I do it almost all day long. Words arrive in an endless flow as I talk to other Artists about their work, occasionally chipping in with elements of my own experience, but always mentally focussing on showcasing them and their projects. So what about promoting my own Art?
There is an enormous amount of work involved in setting up and running a blog like Art-Mantic, all of which I do on a voluntary, unpaid basis. One of the benefits, however, is that I get to hear about things, or be invited to things, I might not have been otherwise. What this means is that I have to switch from talking about other people’s work, to my own. I find this easy when talking about the blog, but so much more difficult when it comes to talking about my art.
Part of this is because as soon as I finish a painting, my thoughts immediately move to the next one. The one I finished becomes “old news” and so becomes less exciting than the one I’m planning. Also, the more paintings I make the more I learn about technique and get closer to the finishes I want to be able to achieve, so when I look back at a piece I painted several paintings ago, I can see all the areas where I know I could do better now, and a sense of embarrassment kicks in.
Of course, this is ridiculous. I get really fantastic feedback about my work, and each painting is a part of my Art history; each step had its own importance in getting me to where I’m going. But still, I have to fight the urge to apologise for them, as though they were a younger version of myself who just didn’t know how to behave properly!
It doesn’t matter that I went to Art school and spent 5 years during my degree and MA learning all the words and codes with which to talk about my paintings. I still have that little nagging doubt – a bit of imposter syndrome – and it isn’t really about my work at all. I have come to realise it is all about my relationship with myself. Do I feel good enough? Worthy enough? Does anyone want to listen to my voice? My visual voice? Time and experience has taught me the answer to those things is yes, but it has taken real courage and many sweaty palms to get me to the point of being able to share.
Since starting work on Art-Mantic, I have realised I had let my own social media presence slip in to the shadows again and I’m trying to put that right.
One of the things that is helping me at the moment is a prompt sheet provided by Devon Artist Network for the Devon Open Studios event in September. Look for it online under #makemay. Every day of the month has a prompt like “introduce yourself”, or “Where do you work?”. By putting out social media posts every day in response to the prompts, I am covering a lot of areas I may not have thought of sharing before. I’m talking about my work, but I’m not doing it alone, as a whole collective of Devon Artists are doing the same thing at the same time. The sense of belonging really helps to smash that imposter syndrome. It takes the pressure off thinking up things to post about, and it is helping me to re-release older images; even to see the good in them.
Maybe draw up your own crib sheet. It doesn’t mean you have to do it every day for a month, but maybe even once a week for a couple of months would be enough to get you started? Look up Devon Artist Network’s #maymake on social media channels for some ideas or think up your own. (More information about DAN can be found here https://www.devonartistnetwork.co.uk/event-series/devon-open-studios )
Whatever stage of career you’re at, feedback is important, and showing your work in person or online is a necessity if your art is going to meet the world and have a life of its own. Art has a way of finding its own audience, and I have little doubt that in a relatively short space of time you will have a collection of advocates, willing to cheer you on.
Questions? Comments? Brilliant tips? Leave a reply :)