Thursday, 22 June 2017

Hello impostor syndrome, welcome back!

A few weeks ago I handed in my art work for the Woman exhibition, which opens in just a couple of week's time. The exhibition is now called 25 And Counting.

All good. Then the publicity materials began to appear...
Also good, but I felt a bit of discomfort at 'An exhibition by woman artists'. I'm not a woman artist, I got a GCSE in art in 1988 and that's about all. Is my work art anyway? After all, I did it with marker pens.

Hello impostor syndrome, welcome back!

If you look up the definition of art, you'll find about a million different answers and my work is sure to fit into at least one of those definitions. If you need to have gone to art school to be an artist then I don't fit the requirements, but then again it's not like I'm practising medicine here. Nobody dies if I get it wrong.

And what does wrong mean in this context, anyway? Is it even possible to get it wrong? Perhaps knocking out something without thinking, caring or having a message might count as wrong. I definitely did none of those things, I gave this project a lot of thought.

Coming at this as an amateur gives me an interesting perspective, actually. I see the art world admiring conceptual art that makes you think and challenges you, but almost everyone else admiring art that shows technical skill and (often) looks very realistic. I feel like I'm bouncing around somewhere in the middle, feeling a fraud because I'm not clever (skilled? qualified? experienced?) enough for the conceptual stuff (yet?) but I don't have the technical skill to make myself feel confident as a layperson, either.

I could spend all my time going around in circles with this, but the only thing that will move me forward is to actually do it. Make something, anything. As I found with my online business, you learn by doing, not by planning and thinking. OK, some planning is good, but a surprising amount of my plans fall in to place as I'm practising, testing, playing around. Suddenly the fog clears and the path appears.

So my way through impostor syndrome is to stop thinking and start doing.

This was inspired by a post I read by Amanda Palmer yesterday. It's reassuring to read that someone as successful as Amanda still has to deal with these gremlins! If you don't know who she is, the best intro to her is probably her TED talk, The Art of Asking.

How do you deal with your impostor syndrome?