One of the things that every artist struggles with, at one time or another, is confidence. It’s difficult to relax and realize your artistic potential if lack of confidence is making you anxious and blocking your creative flow. One of the best confidence builders is artistic community … surrounding yourself with supportive people who “get” you and share your passion. They will understand your doubts and can help you work through them by sharing their personal experience, knowledge, and encouragement. Here’s a real life example …
I am a member of a local photography club, with members of every experience level. I recently attended an exhibit at a small local gallery including photos by some of our very talented club members. I was inspired by their beautiful images, the fun and stimulus of the event, and the dream was planted. I wanted to do that … someday. As soon as my images were just right. As soon as I built an extensive portfolio of epically impressive work. As soon as I had a massive inventory of gallery-ready prints. As soon as I felt, well, ready. A tall order to be sure.
Being the curious person I am, I began to follow the website and blog of the gallery. Soon enough, there was a call for artists for an upcoming show. At the next club meeting, I chatted with two of the photographers who had recently exhibited, and picked their brains about how it all worked. To my surprise, they asked if I was going to exhibit. (What? Did they think I really could?) I started to express my doubts … that my work wasn’t ready, that I didn’t have enough, that I didn’t feel ready, but would love to sometime in the future. What happened next was the beauty of artistic community. These supportive and generous artists encouraged me to try. They helped me think through my practical concerns (for example, the number of pieces needed for the space), and patiently answered technical and logistical questions. Most importantly, they didn’t show the least bit of doubt that I could do it.
That was all I needed to nudge me forward. That very evening, I contacted the gallery owner, and sent some sample images. To my surprise and delight, in a couple of days, I had an invitation to participate in an upcoming show. Happily, I have a couple of months’ lead time, enough to contemplate, plan, and prepare my small part of the exhibit. But it’s huge to me … a major confidence boost, and a satisfying step in my artistic journey, all because of the power of artistic community.
If you are not plugged into a group of people who share your artistic passion, whatever that may be, I encourage you to find one. The benefits are many … fun, knowledge exchange, encouragement, and confidence building. If you are already plugged in, I’d love to hear about your artistic community and what it has meant to you, so please feel free to leave me a comment.
As always, I wish you happy shooting and a satisfying photographic journey, and today, I especially wish you confidence through artistic community!