Artist Therapy 9: Share my art? You’re kidding.

Artist Therapy is a series of posts exploring problems we artists have making, getting ready to make, and sharing our art. It is inspired by Havi Brooks’s Blogging Therapy articles.

Previously on Artist Therapy:
1.) Introductory Ideas
2.) I totally suck at art.
3.) I’ll never be good enough.
4.) I don’t have time for art.
5.) It’s too late for me to start.
6.) What do I even draw?
7.) I’m blocked.
8.) But I don’t have a style!

Today’s Artist Therapy:
First off, you don’t ever have to share your artwork ever. Ever! Your art is for you.

Secondly, if you feel anxious about sharing because you think you suck or you’ll never be good enough, well, I obviously have some thoughts on that.

Now for the meaty stuff: you know that sharing can be good. The best reason is that you can bounce ideas off of others and get inspiration from them. You can also collaborate to make artwork together (say whaaaat) and combine your work to have exhibits (which is also sharing!). You can learn from others and they can learn from and be inspired by you. You can let people know that they’re not the only ones who feel or think a certain way.

But sharing artwork (and other things) can make you feel vulnerable. Sometimes your art shows too much of yourself, and you simply can’t let others see it. That’s understandable. Your art is part of you, and it’s important that you trust those you share it with.

(Those pieces that show too much of yourself will probably be your best ones, by the way, because they have more depth and honesty.)

Let’s try something that Havi does: let’s exchange the word “vulnerable” with something else. Maybe “human” or “transparent” or “open-ness”. Now it seems more positive, doesn’t it? Less scary.

And other people will be drawn to this. They like knowing you’re human. They will admire you for owning your humanity.

However, those people are not always in your real life. They are not always your family and friends.

You have good reasons for not feeling ready to share with these people. You might expect that they will think your art is weird and start treating you differently. Although they may surprise you and be supportive, they might not. Only you can make that call, and in some cases, it’s just a bad idea to share.

But if you have the desire to share, just not with anyone you know, that is when you take to the internets! There are lots of people online who will get your stuff, who won’t treat you weird, who will actually encourage you to make more.

There are two ways of starting an internet presence. You can do it my way, which is to keep it anonymous and separate from your real life; or you can use your real name. The second one I suggest with caution, since we all know that online things can easily mess up our real lives.

Aaaand, depending on how you set up your site (or profile), you can limit commenting and who sees your work. Some sites allow you to turn off comments, and some allow you to password-protect your galleries: that means no one sees your work without your permission, and you can slowly get used to being visible.

However you choose to display your art, pretty soon you will attract your Right People, especially if you join an online art community. And it will be pretty neat.


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