Annie Leibovitz' self portrait
Many thanks to all of you who took time to consider the answers to my Mother's Day Quiz. Our resident "whiz kid," Don, provided the correct answers. Good job!
And now, back to Art & Fear: Observations on the perils (and rewards) of artmaking by Bayles and Orland. Chapter three is entitled "Fears About Yourself" and begins with the observation that when you act out of fear, your fears come true. The authors go on to be more specific to artmaking and lump our fears in that regard into two general categories: 1) fears about yourself, which keeps you from doing your best work, and 2) fears about your reception by others, which keeps you from doing your own work .
These fears naturally lead to what the authors call "pretending," but I call it "the impostor syndrome." It's doubt about our skills, intelligence, talent, credentials coupled with the fear that others will find out that we're really pretending to be an artist, or impostor. Of course, when things aren't going well in the studio this feeling increases since we often fall into the trap of thinking that true artists aren't subject to the shortcomings that we find in our own work. This feeling causes many artists to quit or at least take a prolonged break.
But, for those of us who don't quit, there's still the temptation to make excuses or even put-down our work. The authors also point out that it's easy to feel like a pretender when the definition of what is and isn't art is a moving target. If we're not certain about what we're doing then self-doubt creeps in.
What solution is offered to cure the impostor syndrome? While you may feel you're just pretending that you're an artist, there's no way to pretend you're making art. Your work may not be what curators want to exhibit or publishers want to publish, but those are different issues entirely. You make good work by (among other things) making lots of work that isn't very good, and gradually weeding out the parts that aren't good, the parts that aren't yours. It's called feedback, and it's the most direct route to learning about your own vision.
I completely agree with this statement. It's how I've struggled through. Tomorrow, we'll bite off another chunk of meat from this chapter.
And now, what are your thoughts?