A few weeks ago I was in an online meeting room with some fellow craft industry professionals and artists and someone who was just starting out posed the question:
“If you could go back in time to when you were just starting out what advice would you give yourself?”
I thought it was a great question and a really smart way for her to ask as a way to tap into the collective knowledge and experience that was in the meeting. It really got me thinking about what advice I would give to my younger artist self when I was just starting out…
Practice and patience are paramount
Want to get better at what you do? Well the only way to do that is to put the time in and practice, practice, practice. You can’t decide on Monday morning that you want to master free motion quilting, drawing, fabric dyeing, 1/4″ seams or develop your own personal style and expect to accomplish that by Friday. It just doesn’t happen that fast. It will happen but you have to be willing to work hard at it consistently and learn from the mistakes you make along the way. It’s not about working fast, it’s about working at it day after day.
Failure is inevitable
Tough love here – not everything you make is going to be a work of art or end up looking the way you envisioned. You are going to swing and miss sometimes. It’s inevitable and the sooner you accept that fact and come to terms with understanding that those failures are valuable learning opportunities that will make you a better artist the easier they will be to deal with. Your failures do not define who you are as an artist, they are a stepping stone on the path to becoming a better one.
Ask “what if” and then do it
The question “what if “is one of the most powerful tools available to you so use it but you can’t just ask the question and not answer it. The results of the “what if” experiments will teach you so much and will give you a personal library of experiences that you can draw on as you move forward.
External validation is overrated
It makes no difference what anybody else thinks of your work, it only matters what you think of it. You need to make the kind of art that pleases you. Worrying about what other people think of it or what kind of art others are making is a black hole of wasted time. Your focus needs to be on making art that speaks for you – that’s how you develop your own unique authentic artistic voice.
Good things don’t come to those who wait
They come to those who put in the time and work hard for them. You have to go out and make your own opportunities because nobody is going to do it for you. Set goals, make a roadmap, take it seriously, stay positive, stay focused and do the work to make it happen.
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