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An Artist’s Doubt

June 4, 2010

At the Art Biz Blog the other day, Alyson asked a great question: Is self doubt a friend or foe?

This question really struck a chord with me, as it’s something I feel quite strongly about. In my opinion, an artist’s self doubt is a friend.

Doubt in ourselves and doubt in our work is what prompts us to ask ourselves questions.

“What am I doing?”

“Why am I doing it?”

“What is the point?”

Asking yourself these questions, and then actively finding the answers, helps you grow as an artist. These kinds of doubts are definitely challenging, and sometimes upsetting, but ultimately, they are a positive thing.

By answering the questions caused by self doubt, you re-confirm your artistic goals and aspirations. You gain a stronger sense of conviction in your art practice. You can examine old, out-dated ideas, and discard them if necessary. You enhance your understanding of your own work.

Self doubt is what keeps us moving forward, keeps us progressing, helps us grow.

When artists lacks self doubt, they don’t question themselves. They accept their own status quo and afford themselves too much leniancy when it comes to their practice. Without some doubt, we stop moving forward.

That being said, the artist needs to be strong enough to face his doubt. If you stop at the questioning stage and never find the answers, your doubt can cripple you.

Obviously, this is a bit of a loaded question and people will have many responses, as Alysons’ post shows.

The bottom line? Don’t be afraid of your doubt. Accept it as a challenge and meet it head on. You may even learn something about yourself!

What do you think of self doubt?


From → Art General

  1. I doubt myself all the time and it’s funny because I never really thought about it until I read this blog post.

    As an artist myself I question a lot of things and sometimes I don’t like the answers that I give myself, but it does help to push yourself forward as an artist, as there is nothing worse than treading water and hardly doing a thing different.

    Nice post there! cheers now!


    • Wayen, you’re right, questioning yourself can lead to some unsettling answers, but no matter how difficult it is, questioning is always better than blind acceptance!

      Pia, I’m glad you’ve found a strategy to deal with your doubt. We all need to let loose and get crazy once in awhile, in our lives in general, as well as in our art!

  2. I was just talking to another creative person about this…and it took me a while to see it this way, but you’re totally right: if you look at doubt in a positive way, it does force you to move forward, to push yourself, to learn something new.
    Whenever I find myself doubting whether I can really draw what I want, I take a deep breath, let go of my doubt and just go a bit crazy. This allows me to let go of perfection and do something fun! That’s when I learn something new, or see a new way to add texture or color to my art.
    Thanks for posting this!


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