What is the Scariest Thing you Face as an Artist? | Overcoming Your Fears

I’m not an artist, so I can’t understand all of the challenges and difficulties you face. However, as an artist working to sell your art, you are a small-business owner, and as a fellow small-business owner, I have faced many of the same issues you have faced in building your business.

At this point, my gallery has attained a certain level of stability. Though there will always be bumps along the road, experience has given me a certain level of placidity about the day to day issues that arise in any business. I know that things work themselves out.

This wasn’t always the case. For the long, initial years of our business, I spent many sleepless nights worrying about how we were going to get through our challenges. How were we going to pay next month’s rent? What could we do to increase sales? What would I do if the whole gallery thing didn’t work out?

I could taste my fear.

I don’t mean to imply that I don’t still have concerns about the future, there will always be some level of uncertainty in any business, but at this point, it’s exactly that, concern, not fear.

Growing up in an artist’s home (remember, my father is the painter, John Horejs), I saw first-hand the adversity that comes into the life of a struggling artist (and his/her family)!

Just to provide a short list, I’ve observed that many artists experience the following challenges:

  • Fear of Failure. This is a pretty universal fear, no matter what your undertaking, but for artists, the fear of failure attacks on several levels. First, there is a fear that your work itself might be a failure – that you will be unable to live up to your vision because you aren’t able to master your technique or craft. There is also the fear that the public won’t catch your vision or respond to your work in a positive way.
  • Fear of Criticism. This one is related to the first, but I know that many artists are afraid that other artists or art “experts” will find their work lacking. I’m sure that many of you have been on the receiving end of harsh criticism. It’s not fun, and not every critic is good at turning their criticism into constructive criticism.
  • Fear of the Unknown. This is one that I can understand directly. As you work to establish your art business, it’s likely that there is much that you won’t understand right out of the gate. How can you get your work in front of potential buyers? If you are showing your work directly to buyers, what will you say when discussing your work with potential buyers? How will you handle the mechanics of a sale if someone does buy? How do you ship and install artwork? What about sales tax? Income tax? Just thinking about all the moving parts that are required to run a business is enough to make the heart palpitate. It’s especially overwhelming when you are first establishing yourself.
  • Artistic Uncertainty. As an artist, you make critical decisions about the direction of your work that will make a huge impact on your creative direction. What if you choose poorly at some point and go down a creative dead-end?
  • Lack of Support. Okay, that’s a nice way of saying it. The fear I often hear expressed by artists is that friends and family will think you are crazy for pursuing your art instead of something stable. They probably have good reasons for thinking this, and they likely have your best interest at heart, but it’s also clear they don’t understand how important your art is to you.

I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface of the fears you face as an artist, and I hope you’ll share others in the comments below. Whatever your fears are, however, the important question is how can you overcome them?

I have several suggestions from my experience as a business owner. I don’t mean to imply that fear can be easily overcome, nor that these suggestions will revolutionize your life by helping you instantly vanquish your fear. You can start conquering your fear by doing the following exercises:

    • Face Your Fear. Over the years, I’ve learned that hiding from my fears, or burying them somewhere in the recesses of my mind, only serves to compound the impact of my fear. I’ve also discovered that when I deny my fears, they can poison my outlook on life and my ability to take action. It is better to identify what you fear, call it what it is, and start working toward a resolution.
    • Get to Work. Fear can be paralyzing. Giving into that paralysis doesn’t help resolve your challenge, and time has a tendency to compound your problems. No matter how daunting the challenge is, I’ve found it’s best to just start working, even if it seems like the small amount I’ll be able to do today won’t make a dent in the problem. Most problems are eventually overcome by the myriad of small actions you take to resolve them. I’ve discovered that the opposite of fear is action.
    • Make a Plan. In conjunction with getting to work, I try to approach problems and challenges systematically. For me, that usually means making a list. I love to-do lists. Listing what needs to happen to tackle a problem, and then checking off work as it is completed is therapeutic, and listing out each step of the process helps me see my problems in a different light.
    • Obtain Knowledge. The more you know, the less you fear. Learn everything you can about your art and your business. Some of your fears are irrational – based not on a potential negative outcome, but rather on your lack of knowledge.
    • Network – Build a Support System. It’s hard to imagine there’s a single difficulty that you are facing that hasn’t been seen and overcome by someone else in your community. Network with other artists or business owners to draw from their wisdom. This kind of networking shouldn’t be a one-way street. If you look for help in your network, you should also be willing to share your experiences and help those in your network when they are in need.
    • Identify the Worst Case Outcome. This one is going to sound a bit counter-intuitive, because we’re always told to be positive and think about the best-case scenario. Doing exactly the opposite, however, can help you conquer your fears. If there’s something I’m afraid of, I’ve found that thinking seriously about the worst-case can help sooth my nerves. When a problem looms unexamined, my tendency is to think of it in a vague, “this problem could signify the end of the world” kind of way. Thinking about what will really happen if the situation unfolds in the worst way possible usually shows me that the negative outcome is  less serious than my imagination might have made it out to be. Better still, it’s rare that everything will occur according to your worst-case outlook. This means that as events unfold, you will have the pleasure of saying “well, that wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be!” In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that I’ve taken this idea (and many other thoughts on overcoming fear) from a book, which leads me to the next suggestion:
    • Read Dale Carnegie’s  Book “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.” This book is brilliant. It’s been years since I’ve read it, but it’s safe to say that it has a daily impact on my daily life and outlook.

  • Talk Out Your Problem Or Conflict with The Other Party. Finally, I would recommend that you reach out to whomever may be on the other side of your fearful scenario and work with them to overcome your problem. For example, in 2008, after the economy had tanked and very little art was selling, I found it impossible to pay the gallery’s monthly rent. I lost night after night of sleep as I tried to figure out what to do. I imagined the landlord locking us out of the building and our business dissolving. Days turned into weeks as we got further and further behind. It was soon clear that we were going to end up several months in arrears. I eventually screwed up my courage and called the owner of the building for a heart-to-heart conversation. I explained what was happening and the problems we were facing. Our landlord would have been well within his rights to shut us down, and I know this happened to many businesses. I was fully prepared for this to happen (see my worst-case scenario tip above), but it turned out that our landlord was accommodating instead. I’m sure that he could see what was happening in the economy and realized that if we failed, he would likely be sitting with an empty storefront. He asked me what I thought we might be able to do to solve the situation, and together we came up with a plan to modify the lease so that we had a shot at making it through the recession. Here we are all these years later, but we wouldn’t be if I hadn’t faced my fears and made that phone call. I’ve had other situations where the outcome wasn’t so positive, but I’ve always found that I’m better off talking it out with the other party and trying to work out the problem.
  • Gain Experience. As I mentioned earlier, it’s not that I no longer have anything to be afraid of, it’s just that now, having faced and overcome many challenges, I know that every problem has a solution, and that everything can be worked out.

Remember, courageous people aren’t those who have no fear, but rather those who face their fear and overcome it.

What are your Fears, and How do you Overcome Them?

What are the things that you’ve been most afraid of in your art career? What are the things that you most fear right now? How have you overcome your fears? What advice would you give to an artist who is facing fear right now? Share your thoughts, experiences and suggestions in the comments below.

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About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of reddotblog.com, and founder of ARTsala. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business. Connect with Jason on Facebook

61 Comments

  1. My biggest fear … that I won’t live long enough to paint all the places, people and things I want to paint. Even with a good 20 years ahead of me, it’s not nearly enough, even producing 50-75 paintings a year. The world is too big and beautiful and filled with wonders and I have limited time. The other fears you’ve listed, nope, not so much.

    1. Wow, that is a valid fear. I used to be afraid I would lose my vision and then I ended up discovering that I had glaucoma. I caught it on time and take drops so I now live every day knowing anything could happen. I ended up doing more with my art career because of it, but it is too bad that some times it takes a great scare to get us motivated. You sound like you have a great attitude already with producing 50 – 75 paintings a year. Keep going girl and live every moment!

      1. I share that concern, and think many artists who get going past mid-life do. What if I really start to get goood and succeed — and then my body (eyesight, hands) fail. There is nothing really to be done except to stay as healthy as possible and savor every day.

  2. This isn’t exactly in line with the artistic fears you discussed, but my biggest fear right now is the possibility of being without health insurance and unable to afford healthcare once the ACA is repealed. This is currently what worries me most — a practical small-business concern that has nothing to do with being an artist.

    1. Actually health care is a big deal, let’s face it – age happens and as our hands and eyes fail, we’re going to need help, so the real underlying fear is making enough money to afford insurance and pay all the other bills and hopefully make a profit. It’s a quagmire.

  3. I am a furniture designer/maker and I think my biggest fear and it’s not really a fear, more a concern really is making sure I have enough work on my schedule! All of my work is one of a kind designed specifically for each client. Maintaining my referral base is the most critical part of my business because better than 75% of my work comes in the form of referrals from happy clients!

    I do two major craft shows each year and the sole purpose is to show new work and most importantly to add potential clients to my email list and mailing list! I work hard to add potential clients and others like interior designers, architects and gallery owners to my list of prospects.

  4. I used to be kind of freaked out by critiques. Then I went through an advanced course where critiques were common and I learned how to absorb, learn and bounce with the offered suggestions. I also learned a valuable lesson. Besides the fact that critiques are subjective, they are also sometimes delivered by inexperienced artists who are looking to find fault instead of giving constructive criticism. And to me the lesson is that there is a difference between a critique and criticism. A critique is something you ask for and criticism is something given, usually without you asking. It sometimes starts with the phrase, “Do you mind if I suggest something?”

    1. Maybe it’s in the wording. When I was working towards my CTM at Toastmasters International, members were invited to offer ‘points for/of improvement’ to their contemporaries. At our club, they came in the form of hand written words on little pieces of paper which were given to the presenting member following her/his speech. In actual fact, they could have been called critiques or criticisms – which would have done a number on my fragile ego/psyche 🙂 But as ‘points for improvement’, I could hardly wait to receive these delightful golden nuggets because I knew they held the secrets to wonderful advancement in my public speaking prowess. Many years later, I still have them, read them on occasion, and value them in the very positive light in which they were offered. It’s the same with my art making. If I ask my peers and instructors at all, it is only for ‘points for improvement.” The words crit, critique, criticism, and even failure do not exist in my life. There is no failure. At least, not for me. Ever. Only evolution. Seriously. Try it. It’s in the wording. sent in light & love…..Verna

  5. Well, ironically one of my (I should say “our” as me and my husband are both artists – how stupid is that!) greatest fears is approaching gallery owners. I AM worried about paying the bills but we don’t have children which helps and we have some savings. We live in the UK so health care is taken care of (we pay a tax based on how much you earn) . But I find myself terrified into inaction regarding approaching galleries. I always feel that “you only get one chance”, if they say no then I won’t get another opportunity. I know that I am absolutely useless at approaching people about our work anyway, and so usually do it in writing/email which I think gives me a bit more of a chance. And I also kind of know that it is the work that is important, but I can’t help feeling that something I say or do will just end the whole relationship before it has started! Consequently we have put a lot of time and money into getting my husbands website going (mine is also being done), rather than approaching galleries. We do sell through a couple of local galleries, but there are lots more out there!

      1. I also live with another artist and find that we can more easily share the concerns that our work brings.we can support each other hanging shows, transporting work to exhibitions, discussing submissions…. The list goes on. Of course with neither of us having a steady job it’s a precarious life but the benefits have been enormous

  6. Fear that I could do everything right and still die buried under a pile of paintings because I couldn’t find enough buyers. Dramatic… I know and I’m very sure there are way worse ways to die. I guess that is my worst case scenario 🙂 The thing is art for me is this very personal inward journey that oddly never feels complete until it finds its way into someone else’s journey. (AKA office or home)

    Thanks for a great post & very timely since I have a solo show up for Dec. so lots of fears stirred up at the moment.

    1. I joke with my kids that they should have an art show and sale at my funeral if I have too much art in my studio :)) That comment can really create a rousing and humorous conversation. Anyway, laughing about it can take the raw edge off of fear.

  7. Right now, I’m working to establish a manageable balance in my daily life. I’m feeling overwhelmed with all that needs doing, and have to make myself quiet down to figure out what each next step is, what has top priority in any given moment. There’s a bit of a one-two punch I’ve been working to dissolve. First, as I’ve already gone a couple of rounds with the big “C”, I find myself second-guessing every momentary ache or lack of energy, and hesitating to commit to whatever that next step is. Second, seeing how many more seemingly practical small businesses have closed in my area fuels a thought that maybe I’ll have to do more traveling than I can physically manage in order to find gallery representation and sales opportunities. Or, to put another way, life often feels like a frozen lake I’ve got to cross without benefit of ice skates.
    So, when panic begins to set in, I take my dog outside to Frisbee or to go for a walk. Instigating a transition moment by going outside when I’m wound up resuscitates me, snaps me out of that full-tilt mental racetrack/treadmill. And if the backyard or walking the neighborhood doesn’t do the trick, I drive to the shoreline to recharge.

  8. When I was in high school and had made the firm commitment to pursue art –and attend art school–I can still hear my mother telling me: “You’d better get a teaching degree so you have something to fall back on. You can’t make a living as an artist.” I remember too how deeply that cut and how, I believe, I lived it out for next three decades, never quite ‘making it’.
    As I grew older I began to realize that she wasn’t consciously trying to hurt me. She grew up during the depression, in the south, and I’m sure she thought she was helping. But it put a huge hole in my confidence that I’ve never been able to fill.
    So, I would say, my own lack of confidence that I have any talent or anything authentic to say.

  9. Here is a good one and it is almost funny. I sat here giving this some thought regarding my situation. I have time, materials, space, and I am not currently producing. I am, however, constantly rearranging studio space (to make it more workable) and prepping surfaces to work on. I think that is called avoidance.
    Fear? If I want to label a “fear of”, probably fear of living up to my earlier successes. I did have those for quite a few years. Then time off for things that had to be managed in life. The forward momentum was interrupted. And it is like starting over. One does just not pick up where they left off, publically with their art, after a time away from it. So, I will say for myself, it seems a rather strange place of competing with an earlier art self. Now, that I have nicely identified that, I’ll see what I can do about it.
    Thank you Jason for your newsletters and the forums that allow us to communicate.

    1. Wow Margaret, I have days and sometimes weeks like that and then I have shifts back to productivity. I think you have to trust that you will get back to it and allow your self some down time. We all hit walls and lose inspiration at times and face it, life throws us a few curves once in a while. Having said that, it is time for me to get off the computer and back to the studio. Thanks Margaret.

  10. people, artists, who see themselves too much in the mirror of other peoples eyes can suffer too much from doubts and lack of confidence. If you ask members of a class to write a letter q on their forehead with their finger, some people write it with the tail to the left, some to the right. some people are visualising themselves looking out from behind the letter, projecting the letter on to what they see, other people are seeing in as if in a mirror.

  11. The other worry I have (besides health insurance, and I deal with that by being a distance runner and by calling my elected representatives) is the “I’m not doing enough / as much as fellow artists / as much as I could be” for my business. Various fellow artists gain entry into various museum shows and exhibitions I don’t, so I tend to think that I must not be doing enough to promote my work or to network for my art.

  12. My family still shudders at the thought of me leaving my University career to go full time with what is becoming a successful art career, but 70 weeks are dragging. I have owned 3 successful small businesses and took a break, yes break, with benefits to have a full time job with insurance, no employees, so I could put more time into my lifelong passion of art, of course denied my by my mother 30 years ago due to instability. Now, I find myself going down the entrpreneural road again and want to go full time into my business – that is evident of fear of failure, going broke, or worse becoming irrelevant in the dichometry Of a digital world and fine art world. This will be my 4th rodeo and fear has reared is big ugly head.

  13. I totally agree with you comment Jason that ‘the opposite of fear is action’ . I was told “no” by two galleries about eight years ago and it paralyzed me for a few years. I let it back me into a corner so badly that I did not approach another gallery for years. Then in the last few years and with a change of mindset and a new found belief in the power of taking action, so much has changed. I have my work in galleries and sell more paintings each year than the previous. It all certainly involves work, yet at a certain point I became so vary aware of the magic and power of taking action. I was once so terrified of approaching galleries, but I’ve seen that the more you do it the less scary it becomes. An when I get ‘nos’ now it doesn’t devastate me. I know it’s a numbers game and I am just moving my way towards more of the right galleries and buyers for my work. The one thing I am truly certain of is that taking action keeps things happening and non-action has dire consequences- so we must keep taking action and it all will work out.

  14. Thank you, Jason! Great post, very timely for me as I spent all morning wondering how to embrace my fears today. Doesn’t have anything to do with arts, the practice; it’s more to do with the possibilities of not being able to continue my art practice if I have to move out from my home. As you said, when in fear, get into action, which is exactly what I did. Instead of sitting and worrying about my situation, I cleaned out my work space and threw away junk mail. I noticed during the process of purging my junk mail, that I was also purging my fears out of my mind. The more I tackled the junk mail decisively, throw this, keep that, the more I forgot about my fear. Being in the present moment with my junk mail and fears was therapeutic for me, because I awaken to the awareness that none of them are real problems. And your post affirmed my experience. Thank you for sharing! Happy Holidays!

  15. I have my share of doubts as an artist—that I won’t be able to produce work as good as the last one, that I won’t have good sales, that I can’t produce enough to make a living. All of those fears have diminished as they have proven to be false.

    But, I recently came to a full realization that helped me control my deepest fears. Immediately after the election results, I was overcome with fear for the future. I then realized that fear of the the future is exactly that— a fear for events that haven’t happened, yet and may never happen.

    Although some of the events that I fear may occur, there is no need to double my stress, worrying over it now, and then again when it does happen. Worst of all, by letting fear overpower me, I am more powerless to act.

    I have been more calm and effectively active since embracing that realization.

  16. I’ve been in business for myself for years so I am always a little worried about making enough money to support myself, yet year after year I am fine. As of last year I made the decision to cut down on a stressful consulting career that has spanned over 20 years and gear up working at my passion of producing paintings. Do what you love and the money will follow is what I keep telling myself. A fear of transitioning successfully and in a timely manner still weighs on my mind. Recent sales make me hopeful.

  17. Fear of failure, uncertainty, criticism, the unknown … much of that can be diminished by first identifying your personal vision of “success.” What exactly is failure to you?
    If your end goal is clearly defined artistic uncertainty is only a milepost; you may evolve in another direction. So?
    Criticism only matters if you allow it to. I seek opinions of people I value but beyond that I dismiss it completely. You have to.
    The unknown is part of the human experience regardless of vocation. No one knows what tomorrow will bring.
    Lack of support is a whole separate issue that is NOT a prerequisite to being an artist. I’m always baffled how many artists think they must cycle through that, worse, they must live their lives forever stressed about a living. Tell me what virtue there is in that? The only solution is to secure employment beyond your art. That is not selling out, that is simple prudence. With food on the table those other concerns can be addressed creatively with complete liberty, and you will be a better artist.
    My only concern is level of health … but not fear.

    1. Jackie, right out of the book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear!! I’m reading it now and it should be a MUST for any and every person who is pursuing or contemplating pursuing a life in the realm of the arts. It could be a life changer. And BTW, 90 – 95 % of health issues that arise for people will resolve on their own without treatment. The body knows how to heal itself (think colds, cuts, bruises). May you always have ‘enough’ to assist in the healing/treatment of that 5 – 10 %. Best, Verna

      1. I’ve not heard of the book. My comments are born of life … after formative events you arrive at some philosophy of being; what is productive and what is negative.
        Health … mine won’t resolve on its own. Coping is another life skill we all must develop. In the interim I paint. 🙂

  18. My greatest fear is success. 🙂 Odd I know… It has to do with history. And I have found the solution Jason mentioned: get to work with a plan, is the most effective of all. Getting lost in what I do is excellent therapy. The best is yet to come!

  19. Thanks Jarson for the article,,,,it has really helped me to start working on my fears,,,my biggest fear that tomments me evry now and then is to expose my work to potential buyers thinking they wil reject it,,,so i just paint and pack,,,

  20. Thank you for opening up to us, Jason. I have read that Dale Carnegie book, among others. I have recommended it to my children and others. Fear is a paralyzing thing. One of my dad’s last pieces of advice he gave me, before he died of cancer, was an answer to a question I asked him. I was having to make a huge decision about my career (I was working as a producer at a television station, at the time, while moonlighting as a video production company, and also doing news video for large stations in other cities. I had two young children and all of those jobs were killing me. It was time to make a career change. I asked my dad, “If you were in a ship and saw a storm coming, what would you do?” My dad answered without hesitation, “I would turn the ship towards the storm, batten down the hatches, put my head between my knees and cry like a baby.” Then he laughed, at the crying part. Essentially he was telling me to turn toward and face the fear (an ocean wave will overturn and a ship if the wave hits it broadside), prepare for the consequences (do the necessary things to keep as much of the ‘rain’ out as possible to avoid sinking my ‘ship’), and then cry if I needed to. He also taught me to have a sense of humor. He believed in following dreams, but he was a very practical person. His advice was much like Dale Carnegie’s, but it was his own. That was more than twenty years ago, but I still remember his sage advice.

  21. I had a mentor to quit painting at 80. When I asked him why, he said because he started repeating himself. I think about this often because I still love some of the paintings that are now gone. Sometimes I think I am repeating an earlier piece, but when I look at a picture of the early piece, it is very different from what I am doing now. Because I am an abstract painter and paint from my gut, I am realizing that I have changed so much over the years that I couldn’t repeat an earlier painting because I am not the same person.
    I also fear that I will discover that I have nothing else to paint, my well has dried up.
    I also fear that health issues will keep me from painting. This is probably my biggest fear. But I remind myself that the need to paint provided me the motivation to work hard to survive a major health problem 5 years ago.
    My way of dealing with these fears is to just keep painting and if I can’t get to the studio, I work at home on small pastels or drawings.

  22. I fear myself I think, after years doimg everything but art, I made the change, got studio space and returned to art. Now I fear the unknown, the amount of work I haven’t done, I fear every project I attempt and ultimately that self-destructive nehaviour will pop up again. It feels good to be able to say it…

  23. I’ve recently retired from teaching and am now a full time artist. I do need to have at least a small income from my art, so I need to expand my market from the small rural area I’ve had some success in so far. This means spending money on frames and supplies to create a larger inventory, shelling out for a website and my studio rent, and spending serious money for a tent and display panels so I can do art shows (as well as travel expenses and entry fees doing the shows). My biggest fear is that I’ll flop in a larger market and waste all of that money.

  24. My greatest fear when I started to paint fulltime and dropped my consultant business in the optical (making lots of $$$$) was…”Will I survive till I can start selling my work?” “Will I ever sell any at all?”
    I almost depleted my savings in two years trying to establish myself. But thank God in Canada we have great medical, so that is not a problem here.
    At least I never worried about criticism. I love my work and whatever other people think about…is their problem.

    But to succeed I knew I had to paint full time. I had some savings and taught workshops once in a while and private painting lessons to keep me by.
    Then…my next fear was getting into galleries…rejection, which I had more than enough all these years than I can count. And still have, but now rejection does not bother me. I always think is their loss since my art sells, which is the bottom line after all.

    Now…the fear of the moment is keeping with the expectations of my galleries since my work is selling pretty fast… meaning I have to produce faster and bigger.
    Painting from 7 in the morning and continue after dinner till I can’t stand on my feet anymore.
    And the biggest fear of all I have these days… is getting into one of two of my favorites galleries. So I am building a body of work (my Dumpster Diving series ) like Jason say, but not twenty to twenty five, just about ten or so is all I can do with my other commitments.
    I wouldn’t like to apply now and burn the bridge for good.

    And all I have to say to Laura: “There are a lot of sacrifices we artists have to make. Just never give up if making art is your heart desire. No money is a waste of money…trust yourself!”

  25. Seems no matter how much I remind myself “the Lord sayeth, buy whatever you need, don’t go crazy spending, keep your health, and you will have all the money you need”, and being right about it year after year, I often find myself acting otherwise and being frugal. Both reading the recent article in People magazine about Donald Trump’s history of losing his fortune and rebuilding before he was President, and seeing my best friend go through something very similar, helped give me extra courage and inspire me to be a more genuine person.

    As far as when I felt the most intense fear as an artist, the first couple hours of the day I got out of bed and set out to sell my very first greeting cards of my paintings I had done that year of 2007.

  26. The fear of never “making it”. I have no formal art training and I fear it shows. It would be too hard, for a number of reasons, to go to university now. I take any number of classes but …. there’s always the but…..

  27. Similarly to Lesley Prickett’s comment above, my absolute number one fear is what to say to gallery owners. I am not afraid to approach them to say hello, but I am afraid of what words to use to introduce myself and my work. I know quite a few gallery owners now, because I visit them fairly often, but I just don’t know what to say for myself- How do I phrase what I want to say without feeling or sounding silly? I want to let them know that I am an artist and I would like to show them my work and I would like to know if they would consider showing my work. What is the best way to say this to a gallery owner?

    1. Taking Jason’s Art Academy online gives excellent instruction on introduction and self/art presentation. I imagine most of us were frozen in inertia with the most basic fear of WHAT DO I SAY? CAN’T MY WORK JUST SPEAK FOR ITSELF? WHAT DO I SAY/DO IF I’M REJECTED?

  28. Two weeks ago I lost my job of 34 years. Before that I had a plan in place perparing me for a timed exit and now I can’t seem to move forward. During the summer/fall we had a flood in the house and I was unable to paint and forgot to apply to my several critical shows this winter. So now I’m left with trying to decide what to do next. Do I paint or do o try to get into as many shows as possible? My severance pay will end in August and for some reason my brain just won’t allow me to move forward. Any advice would be great .

  29. My fear is being gathered up by the reaper and all my work finds itself in the local thrift store where people will buy it for the frames. So far, the best solution I have found is not to die, but I am not sure how long this solution will last at this point in my life.

  30. Thank you for this article! I never consciously thought about this other than the fleeting fear of success. (Weird, I know, though from what I understand, it’s apparently fairly common.) Anyway: 1. Fear that I won’t be able to produce enough art due to failed attempts. My current hope is to produce one a month ~ an intentional conservative goal ~ because if two attempts don’t work before one finally does, releasing just 12 a year is realistic. 2. Fear that I won’t have enough money to take advantage of the seemingly limitless opportunities to get my art seen. This year, I was contacted by four galleries, three in fairly quick succession, and almost said no to the third one because I didn’t have the money to frame everything for their show. Fortunately, they were happy to use some pieces that I had in a show the previous Autumn. Two of the galleries ultimately sold several pieces for me this year, so yay. 3. Fear that I will be super crazy busy juggling all the aspects of the business (and I’m almost at that point), but without the budget to hire someone part-time to help me with the business / marketing side. At the start of 2016, I set up my weekly calendar to have large chunks of time dedicated to creative work and one day a week for business stuff, but inevitably the business side seeped into the creative time. Will try again in 2017!

  31. It’s good to look at fear like this. Thanks. I tried doing festivals with my artwork and had a whole series of disasters, rarely making the fee to get in. I also felt bad because my husband had to help me set up because of my back. I live in a very rural area so getting into galleries capable of supporting me has been tough. I am in a coop gallery but my work isn’t selling well there either. Not sure what to do next. Right now I’m just painting for friends.

  32. Hello Jason,
    I do have one fear that seems to keep creeping up. Art theft through the internet. I have just had another supposed inquiry from a potential client wanting sample jpegs for a surprise gift for his wife. The amount of grammar mistakes in the letters has left me suspicious and I had to explain to him that I sell work in person, at shows and from galleries or gallery sites. I even suggested he call me from the number on my site but I think my site may have blocked him as I had a hack attack in Dec and my virus protection quashed it. The samples I put on my website are small but how small do they have to be to keep them safe? What do you do to safeguard your site?

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