How to Keep Fear from Ruining Your Art Business

Artwork Archive | September 13, 2016 (Updated April 12, 2021)

“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.” - Les Brown

If fear is keeping you from excelling in your art career, then it’s time to do something about it.

We’ve rounded up seven powerful ways to defeat the unrelenting fears you face as an artist. Don’t let fear control you any longer. Take back your art business. Check it out:

1. Appreciate Instead of Compare

A foolproof way to instantly become a bundle of nerves is by looking at another artist’s work and comparing it to your own. President Roosevelt once remarked, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and Teddy’s famous words could not ring truer.

Remember: every single artist is at a different place in his or her career, so don’t compare your beginning to somebody else’s middle. Even Van Gogh had to start somewhere! Instead, let the talent of other artists inspire you. Only then will you be able to say goodbye to your fears of inadequacy.

2. Believe You Can Make a Living

This is a big one. Unless you truly believe that having a successful art career is possible, you won’t give 100 percent, and add roadblocks to your success. Sometimes seeing is believing—shake your fear by remembering the success stories of artists like Anne-Marie Zanetti, Teresa Haag, and Anne Kullaf.

Don’t make running an art business harder than it needs to be, either. If you’re having trouble making a living on your art alone, check to see if you’re making these common art business mistakes.

3. Starting is a Success

Failure—the haunting number one fear of artists. But, the only way to truly fail is by counting yourself out before you’ve even begun. Starting signifies you believe in your abilities. Starting gives you an opportunity. Starting means you have already beat the fear that has kept so many others from their dreams.

Whether that means picking up your brush or setting up your Artwork Archive Profile Page, taking the first step toward becoming an artist is a success in and of itself.

4. Take Small Steps, One at a Time

Too much focus on your end goal can be extremely daunting. Unrealistic goals can make it seem like you have to go from a novice to international success after only a few months in the art business. Goals, especially big goals, take time. Overcome your anxiety by creating smaller, more manageable goals to achieve along the way.

Try laying out a plan of action for smaller successes. Finished your latest artwork, for example? Complete these steps to help more towards a sale.

And, don’t forget to celebrate when you’ve completed each mini-objective! The feeling of accomplishment is irreplaceable in the fight against fear. Then on bad days, you can look back and see how much you’ve achieved.

5. Ignore Those Negative Thoughts

Aren’t those negative thoughts that pop up in your mind the absolute worst? One pessimistic thought leads to another, and soon they’re spiraling out of control. Well enough is enough. Put an end to the gloominess by focusing on the facts instead of the hypotheticals floating around in your head.

Those small successes we talked about earlier? Write those down, say them out loud, remind yourself of your achievements and your worries will diminish. If you need an extra push, try developing a mantra—a short phrase you can repeat to yourself to lift your spirits. It can be as simple as “I am enough” to “I can succeed as an artist.”

6. Connect to Your Creativity

If you want to really get into the zone, there isn’t room for self-doubt in the creative process. Keep your confidence flowing by finding a surefire way to connect to your creativity.

Do you have a favorite playlist for the studio? Does your dream of landing gallery representation drive you? Do you need a certain amount of downtime so you don’t feel overworked? Find your creative motivation and milk it.

7. Use Your Support System

When it feels like you against the world, it’s nice to remember that you’re not alone. Reach out to your biggest supporters, your family and friends. Show them your latest work. Let them build you back up. They want you to be happy and successful, too.

Kick fear to the curb.

Fear is natural. But, it doesn’t have to be a constant in your art business. Whether you study success stories, develop a mantra, turn to others for guidance, or even read the classic Art&Fear, clear your mind and confront the fears that may be holding you back from great things.

Don't fear deadlines, master them! Check out these 9 tips to finish art projects stress-free and on time.

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