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Today’s question comes from Jessie, and Jessie asks, “How do you overcome a paralyzing fear and doubt that you will never become a great artist? Practice is one of the main keys as I understand it, but my fear is so pressing that every time I even think about it, I get upset and paralyzed to even do it.” Well Jessie, first of all, you are not alone and that’s important to keep in mind. I don’t know a single successful artist who hasn’t struggled with fear and doubt at some point, and most of them struggle with it at various points throughout their artistic journey. And I kind of talked about this on Artcast #66, the episode with Will Terry and the title of that episode is, “Are You Good Enough?” And although that episode isn’t about exactly what you’re talking about, I highly recommend listening to it, and I will link to that podcast episode from the post that this episode, the one you’re currently listening to, is associated with. So that is ChrisOatley.com/Pascal-Campion. So I have a couple of questions for you Jessie, why is greatness so important? What is greatness? And if you do become a great artist, will you even know it? I personally believe that art is not about greatness, that’s not the point. Greatness is a moving target, the idea of greatness is a completely subjective concept, right? One person’s greatness is another person’s failure, maybe it’s not often that extreme but you get my point. My advice is just find the story in your heart that needs to be told and tell that story with pictures, with words, or with words and pictures. And if you just do your best at that, you’ll get better at it. And better, and better, and better. My guess is that you actually aren’t motivated by greatness much at all if at all. And that this concept of greatness is something that has been presented as being important and that deep down inside what you really crave is what we all crave and that is connection with each other. And so things like story and community are worthy pursuits that actually don’t require greatness, they just require honesty and persistence and a little bravery. If being a skilled draftsman or a skilled painter is what you mean when you say greatness, then that’s the easy part relatively. Art in the technical sense is a craft that can be practiced and perfected over time. So my advice there is not to focus on the summit of the mountain, just focus on reaching the next base camp. What is it going to take for you to get to the next base camp? Is it an online course? Is it reading a book? Is it forming a circle of trust on which you can rely for accountability and collaboration and critique? So yeah, just focus on the next base camp, don’t worry about the summit of the mountain. I know this doesn’t completely answer your question, I don’t expect it to but what I hope it does is provide for you some healthy perspective that will reduce the overwhelm and keep you focused on what I’m assuming is the thing that actually matters to you. And thank you Jessie, thank you for being vulnerable, thank you for taking a risk in sharing such an honest question. I know that like I said, you’re not alone and a lot of artists struggle with this so thank you. If you would like to submit a question for the Q&A segment on the podcast, head to ChrisOatley.com/contact.
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