Growing up, my mom wore a charm of a funny little gold bird with an extra-large head. She told me it was her “Worry Bird.” She explained that when she worried too much, she would touch her Worry Bird. This was to ease her mind because, she told me, the Worry Bird would take on her worries for her. (With four children, she did have her share of worry). I loved this idea. That a little charm could help with worry and anxiety. At the time I bought this idea.
Artists, by the nature of what we do, are worriers. I am no exception. We worry about our ideas; are they good enough? We worry about how others will see our art. We worry about our talent-are we good enough? How is so and so doing in their art? Will we be successful in the next show aka; selling our art? The ego takes over. I am sure there are artists out there who are ultra-confident and cannot relate to what I am saying. But for the other 99% of us, I am laying it out there.
There is some degree of worth in worry. It keeps us on our toes. It keeps us humble. But also, it is draining and interferes with creativity. By letting worry rule what we are doing and will it be accepted, then we are essentially “playing to the gallery.”
I first heard the phrase, “playing to the gallery”, in a David Bowie interview on YOUTUBE. David was speaking to young artists - giving advice on what and what not to do in their early careers. The whole interview is great IMO. Here is the link if you would like to watch it: David Bowie
When I heard David say, “don’t play to the gallery” I took special note. For as long as I can remember, I have had in the back of my mind, a running monologue of, “will people like what I am creating?” Of course, having people like what you do is somewhat important. Especially if you want to sell your art. (But really, that is defeating the creative process). The flip side is, if you are constantly conducting an imaginary “viewer poll” during your process then you need to ask yourself, is this really my creation? Or are you creating what you think others will like and accept?
One of the basic principles of art is to challenge the status quo. If you are constantly trying to please others, then you really are not offering anything fresh and you certainly are not challenging your viewers/audience. Disclaimer here-Commissioned work is the exception.🙂
The bottom line is this, trying to please others can be a drag. I would prefer to do my own thing and put it out there. If you like it, then great! If you do not, that is valid too.
Getting a reaction is also something an artist should look for with their art. Positive or negative reactions are welcome. It is a tough pill to swallow but this is my goal moving forward. Aim for confidence in who you are and what you have to offer others. And do not worry so much! But that is easier said than done. Wish me luck!
Happy Holidays to you and yours. 💜 💚 ❤️