For many creatives, years of training, learning, and practice have gone into learning a craft, so it takes courage to reveal the pieces that are produced. On the upside, all those years of connection with art professors and a cohort of friends and colleagues who have been with you on the journey, mean that you know which pieces are safe to let out into the world.
If however you learn a new craft independently, you no longer have the support and advice system in place, so letting your art go out into the world requires you to have courage. The creative act is very intimate, just you and your chosen medium, your thoughts, your hopes, and your skills combining to create the finished piece. This in turn means that you are revealing a part of yourself when you share your finished piece with the world. This is probably less so when you create multiple pieces as part of your work, such a ceramics, but even so, you are baring your inspiration and self when you show your work to the world.
I recently read an article – that I cannot find in my history – that made the interesting point that in many ways we are all amateurs. This was defined as anyone who was putting their art out into the world without the benefit of a commission. In those terms all of us who sell our art are amateurs! The pint the writer was making was that without an intended buyer, we are all trying to create something that is not only true to who we are, but also blending that with what we think others will respond to favorably. We “amateurs” then all have to find the courage to reveal our art to our chosen audience, and hope that it is selected to be bought. Without that final act of courage, we are destined to be closet artists.
It is clear that most artists don’t want to have the “amateur” label applied to them, as it conveys a lack of dedication to the art. Sadly a quick look at many online art sites will reveal an array of art that could be considered professional, and yet it is languishing on a site, largely unseen. It is the “amateur” in this sense of the word who gets their art out and in front of people, who encourages followers on social media and blogs about their process. They may not be among your cohort of artist friends, but they are getting their art out to the world and sold. They are showing courage, ignoring the siren song of the ego saying, “but its not your best work..” and just selling their work.
So what would it take for you to lower your sights and become an “amateur” artist who actively shows – and sells – their work and has a tribe of eager followers? Do you have the courage to go against all you previously knew, and start looking on Instagram for hashtags relating to your medium? You might be pleasantly surprised to find there is a warm and welcoming audience for your work if you just have courage!