Seven Signs of Creativity Shame and How to End It!

Thinking about shame is pretty unheard of- talking about it even more so! Yet our society is full of it; from physical shame of our bodies not fitting that perfect ‘mold’ to being ashamed of not finding the ideal partner- we are constantly being fed shame from the media and societal expectations of who we should be. This is a stark contrast to what we all strive; being happy with who we are. Our true selves, happy, whole. This is a novel notion that Dr. Brene Brown has become famous for.

She speaks about vulnerability being a strength, contrary to popular opinion. Her Ted Talks that became famous erupted in the alternative health and wellness stream in 2010, and her books and appearances (such as on Oprah.com) soon followed. To me, she is a name we all need in our vocabularies. As well, shame should be on all of our minds.

Yet today we are going to shine a light on a specific type of shame; Creativity Shame.

As artists, we have been through it. Critiques are quite literally exposing your deepest intentions (through visual artwork) and having a roomful of peers criticize it. Crits (as we so affectionately call ‘em) are common place and practice in the art world. We get used to getting torn to shreds on occasion and it makes us better artists. We have been able to overcome the shame of being exposed and vulnerable.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”

-Dr. Brené Brown

She says so herself… being vulnerable is strongly associated with creativity. We often ask ourselves, why are so many people afraid to make art? Why do so many artists not want to be known as artists?

What is it about art making that makes people so afraid? Well, it of course begins in the kid’s classroom. There was always a Suzy McDoitbetter who could draw a horse that looked exactly like a horse. Then teacher would exclaim, “OH SUZY! You are going to be an artist one day!” Well, who knew that one sentence would now exclude the rest of the class from ever achieving any sort of ‘artist’ status. Dr. Brene Brown teaches us we are wired for struggle. Comparing ourselves to our more successful or prolific peers only damages our psyche. Not to mention now in our day and age we have direct access to Social Media; a carefully self-curated story of how amazing our lives are (or how we would like them to appear to be).

So how do we undo this damage that has been a life-time in the making? How do we abolish creativity shame??

Here is a short list of the signs of creativity shame and our ways to stop it in its tracks!

1) “Oh I can only draw stick-men… I have no idea how to make art!”

NO! Art is a skill that gets better with practice! And besides, it is meant to be fun and for yourself.

We are too focused on the ‘end product’ within our lifestyles. Who can blame us? We are living in a society where our production equates value. That is (of course) only one way to look at it! Value comes from skill that is learned and practiced. It comes from the process of creating freely, from any sort of emotion. Happiness, anger, sadness, art can be cathartic or just for the hell of it!

2) “I like to draw, but I wouldn’t call myself an artist…”

BULL POO! An artist is anyone who calls themselves an artist. Enough said! If you practice a skill that you love, you’re an artist! I mean common, even Subway calls their food prep employees Sandwich Artists!

3) “I’d like to learn how to paint, but I don’t know how!”

That’s like saying “I’d like to learn how to play guitar, but I don’t know how!” Well, find a class. Ask a friend, go to your local community league and see if there are others like you. Taking classes together greatly improves your chance of enjoying it, and there are most likely a lot of friends who feel the same way! Don’t forget- although you most likely won’t be a Leonardo on your first try, I am certain you’re going to love the experience.

4) “My teacher/parents hated my art as a kid… I was never good at it.”

Well, what the heck did they know?! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The more you push buttons and push the envelope and make people think and feel the better! Sure, some people may not like it but it doesn’t mean you should stop.

5) “I don’t GET art… what does it mean?”

This is a fun one! As we mentioned, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Think it is ugly art? Then that’s your opinion! Don’t get the meaning? Well, you’re probably not alone. Many artists create art for their own practice and exploration of ideas, emotions, and history. It’s nothing personal, it’s just art! So take it lightly. Once you’re comfortable with reading visual cues you will be more comfortable saying “hey! I think I know what they mean!

6) “Where do I start? How do I put a mark down? Wha wha whaaaa?!” *head explodes**

Okay, maybe not this extreme. But you get my point! Where does anyone start on a project? You just do it! You jump in two feet at a time. Let’s say you are interested in building a fence in your back yard. You would get the supplies, get some advice, draw up a blue print, etc. Let’s say you want to paint something sweet for over your couch! You would find images/artists you like online, you would purchase supplies and consult a friend. Or you could ask us ;) Either way, you need to be fearless. You need to look at it as a project that has a start and a finish. You are in control!

7) “I MADE A MISTAKE! IT’S RUINED!!”

Listen, it’s not ruined. It is just becoming what it was meant to become. Here is where we get really philosophical… creating art is a journey. If you create from a place of frustration, you will most likely end up with something that is frustrated. Every wrong mark should be left to be admired for exactly what it is, a mark. If you don’t like it, you can always paint over it (if your using acrylic) or start over again. Or better yet- leave it! Don’t be ashamed to create something that’s not made ‘perfectly’. It’s your art, do with it as you please!!

We hope this list of 7 ways to abolish creativity shame has helped inspire you potential artists out there!

Remember, be bold, be fearless, and don’t be afraid to make your creative mark on this world!

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