Whether you’re a painter, designer, musician or darner, every artist at some point in their lives has had that moment when they’ve looked at something they’ve produced and thought; “What? Did I make this garbage?” I have. I wouldn’t believe you if you told me you didn’t. But where is the line drawn between art and garbage? I’ve asked myself this many times and I’ve come to the conclusion that the short answer is simply one word: confidence.
Let’s go back to when we were all artists, when our imaginations had no limits.
As children most of us were lucky enough to have family who lied to us, family who told us that our colouring was fantastic. They were so proud of our drawings they stuck them on the fridge and kept them in scrapbooks. This was a massive confidence boost and it fueled our creativity. We drew and coloured and crafted many a crafty craft.
Then we entered senior primary, a mean-kid factory. Critics everywhere! The truth about our so-called art began to emerge and some of us decided that we don’t need that kinda hate. By high school our lives as artists were nothing but a vague memory, now having no recollection of the era at all. Creative confidence broken!
The rest of us made it through high school though. Either by learning from the others’ mistakes, hiding our art from those would-be art judges, or by simply not giving a shit. Again, some of us didn’t survive this trial and by the end of high school, gave up on any hopes of being an artist. Creative confidence broken! (Moment of silence for a broken dream).
Its a jungle out there!
Now here we are out in the real world struggling on a daily basis to impress ourselves and potential customers, the critics that matter. It’s okay though. Getting through school, and college for some, we’ve managed to rack up enough confidence points to take a few blows when we’re rejected by clients and customers. But what happens when we deal those blows to ourselves? The hit we take by critiquing or own work is greatly more damaging than that of any spectator. Realizing our flaws should help us grow as artists but the critique we place on ourselves is seldom constructive. Its a judgement, and that doodle that could have earned you a million bucks winds up in the trash because of our lack of confidence to show it to the world.
So what is art?
Art is anything and everything you want it be… but only if you have the confidence to stand behind your creation, paying attention to critics but never letting them put you down. Whether you’re presenting your audience with a picture of a half bitten black apple or a one note song, your confidence is all that defines it as being art.