How Artists Can Overcome Creative Anxiety

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The dreamer, the starving artist, and even the avid painter whose work wasn’t famous until after their passing all have one thing in common. They are stereotypical artist archetypes in history and we, as the outsiders looking in, find this mysterious behaviour all a part of the artwork’s allure. However, for the consumer of the art, there really isn’t any way to know exactly what emotional connection the artist had to their work. We just see art and we paint our own narratives for their meaning. It’s because of this the tentative link between mental health and the creative mind has been studied at such lengths.

So, what DO we know about mental health and the creative mind?

Well, we know that ‘Creative Anxiety’ is a real thing, and it is quite common amongst the creative industries. It describes the feeling of being creatively blocked or feeling anxious or depressed from the weight of working in an industry that demands near-perfection and puts the inner-self on display for critique. It’s similar to the feeling of burnout, which was coined in the 1970s by those in ‘helping’ careers. It’s important to note that not every artist will experience anxiety or depression, but it is quite common for an artist to experience this feeling at least once in their career.

Firstly, let’s consider the why, and then we will dive into how an artist can overcome these feelings.

Why Artists Feel Anxiety & Depression

Artists feel anxious and depressed for the same reasons as anyone else. Except for most people, these negative feelings are associated with that inner-self we mentioned earlier, and can be managed outside of the public eye. For artists, their inner workings usually inspire their art, and in turn become the root of their main financial income. It’s because of this that it can be hard to separate work-related negative emotions from things that should just be easy, day to day tasks, like shopping for groceries.

Furthermore, artists don’t have a secure income. Not even world-renowned artists like Banksy can make money without creating more art. Their ability to live is almost always dependent on their ability to create – and that in itself is a tough bickie to swallow. They also aren’t blessed with the “clock in, clock out” lifestyle that allows most people in the workforce to switch on and off. Instead, most artists create ad-hoc schedules and are often working to their client’s deadlines, rather than their own. This means that there is no real dedicated time that is solely theirs and likely, the hobby they once used to unwind is now the source of prolonged stress. Artists have to be ready, available and responsive – or the bills stop getting paid. These two things alone are a recipe for stress-induced anxiety.

It’s not abnormal to question your success or achievements sometimes, but when you are battling thoughts like, “Is this good enough? Am I creative enough? Is this original? Will I be judged for this?” every single day, it adds up. Negative thoughts like this are the kind that will put an artist under pressure, and after a prolonged period of these feelings, start to affect sleep, upset the hormone balance, deplete ‘happy’ brain chemicals and even damage the immune system.

How To Overcome Creative Anxiety

That brings us to the most important question – if you’re an artist, how can you overcome creative anxiety? Outside of the usual anxiety-busters like breathing, talking to someone and prioritising a self-care routine, we’ve put together a few of our own tips for artists who are experiencing creative anxiety.

1. Accept Imperfection & Be Realistic

First and foremost, a huge factor that contributes to creative anxiety is the unrealistic strive for perfection, and to meet unrealistic deadlines. So, artists should be mindful of that when planning and creating their work.

If a client is offering to pay extra to rush a job, consider whether you actually have the time. Although a bit of a cash boost is always welcomed when income is insecure, it’s important to put well-being first, always. If that deadline is going to have you missing nights of sleep or important self-care time, don’t be afraid to be honest.

Honesty with yourself and with your clients will not only breed self-respect but will also help create positive relationships and build a more personal rapport with those who really value your service.

2. Don’t Be Afraid To Take a Break

Building from the last point, don’t be afraid to take a break either. If you’re the kind of artist that finds yourself constantly grinding, tired, drinking more than a ‘healthy’ amount of coffee, consider whether it’s time to take a short break.

It doesn’t have to be for long – an hour, a day, a week. Whatever it is, turn your business phone off, turn your email auto-responder and voicemail on and let your clients know you are taking a day off.

It’s only human, and to deny yourself the time to rest and repair will only further any feelings of burnout or creative anxiety. Plus, a client who has a problem with you taking a break is probably not the kind of client you want to deal with anyway. Right?

3. Diversify Your Income Streams

This one is possibly the more effective, yet least considered way to alleviate creative anxiety. Seek help with the financial side of things. Stop trying to do it all yourself and allow others to help you.

We don’t mean looking for grants or hiring a manager, but instead, start outsourcing the sales and reproduction of your art. As mentioned earlier, one of the key contributors to creative anxiety is knowing that if you stop creating, you also stop having money to live. We can’t think of a better way to help alleviate that stress than to reach out to a company that can help create more income with the work that you have already done.

Art House Reproductions specialise in making fine art (giclee) reproductions of artwork and handling the sales and distribution. You make a piece, we reproduce it, you profit. That way, you can create knowing that your work will have a financial shelf life (more than just one sale) and you can also rest easy knowing that you are not out there trying to make it alone. We are here to help you.

As you can see, creative anxiety is more than just a phenomenon. We here at Art House Reproductions are proud to be able to help artists grow and build their financial stability by handling the reproduction, sale and distribution of fine quality giclee prints. With over 20 years of experience in capturing, reproducing and selling art, we are one of the most trusted in the business – but don’t just take our word for it, read more from our clients here.

To find out more on how Art House Reproductions can help you, contact us now via our website or give us a call on (07) 3252 3130.