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How to Find Your Unique Voice as an Artist – Part III

     written by Tien Frogget


6. Let go of criticism
I know how to feels to look at others work and become dejected - I still (frequently) see others work that just wows me and after I get past the beauty of if I start comparing it to my own work and instantly feel smaller. I think, "I could never be that good!" or, "I like their style better than mine!" And on really bad days I'll think things like, "Why even bother trying? The world doesn't need another artist."  And then I look at my work and remember that's exactly the reason why I should.

Because I'm not doing it for anyone else - I'm doing it for me. I'm doing it because it brings me joy, and for no other reason. There are tons of people out there that don't like my work! And that's totally okay. Because for every person that doesn't there's another that does. That's the greatest gift of art: it is completely personal. Haven't you ever gone to someone's house and you think, "what is that hideous thing on their wall?" Then they proceed to say, "Don't you just love this!? It's by my favorite artist!" You may be gagging, but they smile every time they look at it.

Each of us has our own unique voice and we only need to give ourselves permission to create freely and with wild abandon in order to find it.

Imagine if Van Gogh had painted his first painting, looked at it and said, "Well this isn’t very good. I must not be cut out to be an artist," and then he quit! Can you imagine the world without his paintings? I can't either. But you know what? He had to start where we all started: trial and error. But people don't realize that even he had to learn, just like the rest of us.

Every great artist, writer, photographer, and creative person has to start at the beginning. How quickly we advance all depends on how much time we spend doing what we love - and how much time we spend loving what we do.
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7. Change the way you talk to yourself about your abilities.
This one takes a little effort if you're used to looking at your work and feeling your heart sink and frequently think thoughts like, "see, Tien? You suck! Everyone else out there is so much better than you. You're just not improving fast enough." But changing the way you think is the second most important thing you can do, after practice.

     • Give yourself permission to create endless “bad” pictures.
     • Remind yourself that anything you don't like can go in the trash and you will never have to look at it again.
     • When you are feeling frustrated, remind yourself that even creative geniuses create things that they don't like; in fact, they are often their own worst critics.
     • You might not be seeing your art as it actually is, but through your own "not good enough" filters. They might be better than you think.
     • Look at those pieces you created that you do like all the time.
     • Recognize that you are good, that you have created wonderful things and you continue to do so.
     •  Remember that you are only going to get better.
     • If you can, try listening to music that makes you feel good when you create. Your emotions will translate naturally into the picture.
     • Try to paint or draw when you are in a really good mood. This doesn't mean make excuses not to if you're in a bad mood, it just means that if you're feeling great and you have time, go create some more. When you are feeling good, you will automatically create more beautiful things. (Seriously! I'm not kidding about this one!)

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