Do you have the mind-set of a professional artist?

Do you have the mind-set of a professional artist?

‘Most of us have two lives. The life we live and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance’
Steven Pressfield – The War of Art


As creative people working in any discipline know (whether you’re a writer, a visual artist, a designer, a dancer or, like me, an actor) the road between doing what you love purely because you love it and doing it for money can be long and filled with dead-ends, u-turns and re-routes. We tend to narrowly define ‘being a professional’ as being able to make a living at our craft. But perhaps it’s more helpful to shift our perspective slightly.

In The War of Art, a book I’ve recently read and that left an indelible impression, Steven Pressfield suggests that the difference between being amateur and professional has nothing to do with money and everything to do with mind-set; it’s having the mental resilience to continue down that winding road no matter how many road blocks you hit. And it’s not easy. It takes determination, persistence and an unbending will.

Recently many hobbyists have been in touch with us here at TextileArtist.org. They are generally looking for ways to turn their passion for textiles into a fulltime job. Today I’ll share some musings based on ideas explored in The War of Art on the difference between amateurs and professionals in terms of mind-set.


Professionals combat resistance

The alarm bell rings. You sidle out of bed. Throw together some breakfast. Jump in the shower. Then what? If you’re like the majority of people, that’s when the resistance begins. The resistance to get to work – to start creating. Now I know there will be many of you screaming at your computer screens, ‘Then I have to go and earn a living!’ That just means that your resistance comes later in the day – when you get home from your job.

Resistance feels like unhappiness, boredom, restlessness, guilt and it comes in many forms; do you recognise any of these?

Procrastination

Having endless debates with yourself about the best course of action for a particular piece, or re-arranging your workspace; that’s resistance! And before long, procrastination of this kind becomes habit, until actually getting started on the meaningful bit of the creative process (the creation itself) has been pushed so far back that you think to yourself ‘Well it’s too late to make any real progress today – I may as well wait until tomorrow!’

Instant gratification

Anything you can do for a quick fix of ‘fulfilment’ only acts to delay advancement towards a long-term goal, which ultimately will offer much deeper rewards. Checking Facebook 50 times a day, constantly making cups of coffee, even cleaning and rearranging your workspace obsessively are all tactics to avoid the real job; getting to work. And being honest, how much satisfaction do these things actually bring you?

Excuses

OK, let’s go back to those of you who need to go out and earn a living; you have really valid excuses for not spending time on the thing you claim to be passionate about, right? I’m just too tired when I get in. The dog needs walking. My favourite soap opera is on TV! It may sound harsh, but what you’re really saying is that your craft isn’t a priority – it doesn’t matter that much to you. There’s nothing wrong with that if you want to keep your art as a hobby. But keep in mind, Tolstoy had 13 children and still managed to write War and Peace!

Victimhood

A victim mind-set can be extremely productive, but only at coming up with more and more elaborate excuses. Blaming the conditions of your life now or in the past for your lack of commitment is a form of resistance; it’s the antithesis of getting to work.

Waiting for perfection

I’ve suffered from all of the above forms of resistance at some point, but this is the one that resonates the most. In my early days as an actor, I did a few short films to get screen experience and my agent at the time was keen on putting a showreel of my work together to send to casting directors. The trouble was none of it was good enough in my eyes; the result – I’ve been an actor for 14 years and I still don’t have a showreel! Is it a coincidence that the majority of my professional work has been in theatre?

Waiting to absolutely master an ultra-specific skill before using it, postponing the release of a piece of work until it’s flawless, or not putting up a website of your art until you have a body of work you deem to be the best you will ever produce are all forms of perfectionism. And what’s perfectionism? You guessed it! Resistance!

Jealousy and criticism of others

Being overly-critical of highly successful people in your field legitimises your resistance to putting yourself out there. You are protecting yourself from the kind of criticism you are secretly levelling at others. Again, it may sound brutal, but could it be that you are jealous of those artists who are living fully as their authentic selves? These people probably have as much self-doubt as you, but instead of sitting around bitching about how unfair life is, they get on with the work.

Fear

Fear of not being good enough. Fear of failure. Fear of poverty. I could go on all day. The truth is fear can and should be our ally. As Susan Jeffers and many others have iterated, the thing we fear the most is usually the thing we need to do most urgently. When you start using a new technique in your work as an artist, you fear that you won’t be any good at it. That’s probably true. But if you start, you’ll learn and get better. If you never begin, you’ll never progress.


What is a professional?

In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield puts it very simply; professionals work on their skill every day. Amateurs dabble.

Professionals show up

Resistance will rear its head every hour of every day, but the professional battles on. She shows up no matter what. She shows up when she’s sick. She stays on the job all day and the stakes are high; the professional needs to work.

Professionals don’t over-identify with their work

You are not your art. This is something that I’ve always struggled with and feel presents a real challenge to artists of any kind; at drama school we were taught that we were our product, so criticism always felt personal.

It’s so tempting to cocoon ourselves away from negative feedback. That’s what amateurs do; they never expose themselves to judgement. Professionals know that sometimes they’ll fail, but when they do, they learn and carry on regardless.

Professionals self validate

Professionals don’t take successes or failures personally, but use them positively to assess and improve. Where a piece of work fell short, they work harder. Where it triumphed, they make it better still.

Professionals know that fear isn’t to be overcome

It never can be. Amateurs believe they must conquer fear before they take action. Professionals act in spite of their fear, which is constant and tireless.

Professionals are:

    • Patient: They are in it for the long haul and work little by little, day by day.
    • Organised: They are meticulous in the way they work.
    • Technical: Their aim is to master the ‘how’ of their craft. They let fate deal with the ‘what’ and ‘why’.
    • Practical: They don’t wait around for inspiration; they either actively seek it or take action in anticipation of its appearance.
    • Modest: They don’t show off for the sake of it.
    • Curious: They seek to continue to learn and aren’t afraid to ask for help.
    • Realistic: They play with the cards they’ve been dealt, not the cards they wish they were holding.

Latch on to allies

Just as resistance works to keep us from evolving into the artist we were born to be, equal and opposite forces are also at work; these are our allies.

There is a constant battle being fought between resistance (which lives in our ego) and our allies (which live in our self). The ego likes things just the way they are, whereas the self is desperate to create and progress.


Amateurs operate hierarchically from the ego

Putting yourself in competition with others and seeking to elevate your station by advancing against those above and defending against those below is the work of the ego. It is unhealthy and undesirable, and may well lead to madness!

If your success and happiness is constantly being re-evaluated in terms of your rank within an imaginary hierarchy of artists working in a similar medium to you, you’ll spend most of your time feeling miserable and inadequate. You’ll only ever be satisfied after a perceived ‘win’.

The ego encourages amateur artists to base every action they take on the effect they think it will have on others. They act, dress, speak and create not for the progression of their work, but for the impression it will have on their peers.


Professionals create for love and no other reason

Pressfield states ‘To labour in the arts for any other reason than love is prostitution’. I know as an actor, it can often feel this way! I’m sure being a visual artist isn’t that different.

We must learn to do work for its own sake, not for attention or applause.

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles
Do you have the mind set of a professional artist?

Selected review: “This book is superb. Everyone who has ever tried to improve their lives or start a new venture will know that the main problem is not the money or the time; it’s the motivation. Deep in our psychology we have a hidden enemy, a devious little voice that tells us not to start or attempt anything because we’ll automatically fail or we’ve got better things to do. This little creep is usually the reason diets fail or books don’t get written. Until I read War of Art I just thought I was a procastinator or at best just lazy. But Pressfield has given this enemy a name: Resistance.”

Amazon UK: £6.12
Amazon USA: $9.76

the war of art Do you have the mind set of a professional artist?

Win The War of Art

For your chance to win a copy of Steven Pressfield’s best selling book The War of Art, leave a comment below telling us how you think it could help you in your artistic pursuits. Entries close June 30, 2014.

If you’ve enjoyed this article, let us know by leaving a comment below.

FREE E-BOOK: How my journey into textile art began, a fascinating insight into the work of textile artist Sue Stone
Sunday 26th, March 2017 / 03:23
Joe

About the author

Joseph Pitcher is the son of textile artist Sue Stone. He is an actor and voice-over artist and has worked at the RSC, the National Theatre, West End theatres and several other leading regional venues across the UK. Find Joe on Google

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101 Comments on “Do you have the mind-set of a professional artist?

  • This article completely resonated with how I feel. I’ve been passionate about textiles and making embroideries for about 20 odd years. I’ve made a few pounds here and there. But always felt like a failed artist as I can’t make a living out of it. Last year I was given a dream commission by a friends relative. Long deadline, free reign. I couldn’t do it!! I fell into a severe depression for 7 months. I am much better now and sewing again, and learning that only when I create do I really feel alive. This book sounds amazing. I would love to read it. I think it would help me to complete the commission at last.

    Reply
    • Joe

      Hi Anna,

      All I can say is you are not alone. Being an artist of any kind takes guts; I don’t believe anyone should consider themselves ‘failed’ for not being able to make a living at it, but I realise this is a difficult place to get to. I’ve been through many similar times myself and it’s still a battle – I have to do many different things to support my ‘career’ as an actor. Keep going!

      Reply
    • Joe

      I’m thrilled you feel that way Kathryn. I also read a very interesting book recently called The Happiness Advantage: the basic premise is that for years we’ve always believed that success causes happiness, but the author has done extensive research that points to just the opposite – happiness and positivity precede success. My point is that positivity (although not always easy) is the way forward! Perhaps I’ll write my thoughts on that book in a future article.

      Reply
    • Hey fellow artists, sometimes it is hard to shield yourself from those out there who say “yeah it’s nice to have a hobby, but when are you going to get a proper job?”
      Constant critisism, (usually from uncreative minds or even jealous ones) can wear away at your integrity and self-belief. Even if no one else give you approval each day, make sure you set a target, accomplish something, tick a box and tell yourself “GOOD ON YOU, YOU’VE DONE WELL TODAY, SLEEP SOUNDLY”.
      Each day you will achieve more and gain the positivity back in your life.
      Live by the rule “YES I CAN” It has made a huge difference in my life…………………

      Reply
      • I love this mind set Caz. I’m going to start telling my self ‘yes I can’ too. Thank you for those words of encouragement 🙂

        Reply
  • I want to progress all the days. I want to learn but often you have to fight the environment because others think you’re wrong. I think before you can suceed in life you have to be happy: To be happy To be able to do, to be able to earn , attraction laws. Excuse my bad english ! Thanks !

    Reply
    • Joe

      Claire – I agree. Happiness is the key but latching onto it can be tough and takes discipline. Thanks for your comment.

      Reply
  • As a daughter of a consecrated artist in Costa Rica (Jorge Gallardo), I totally related with this comment ‘As creative people working in any discipline know (whether you’re a writer, a visual artist, a designer, a dancer or, like me, an actor) the road between doing what you love purely because you love it and doing it for money can be long and filled with dead-ends, u-turns and re-routes.’…I saw my father being asked to do a piece of art that will ‘match the sofa of a house’ :-/ but as well I saw an artist compromised with his ideal that sacrificed everything to do what he loved while making money to barely live in terms of what society define as ‘good living’ and provide for his family; great thing we had a wonderful mom that also was compromised with my father’s decisions and supported him always and allowed the family to grow fine. We are proud of our dad’s decision of being an honest artist and there is no regreats of the difficult times because we learnt something better: to be honorable and incorruptible.

    Reply
    • Joe

      Sounds like you had incredible parents as role models. It just reiterates that we must be artists for the sake of it – not for money!

      Reply
    • Hello Maria,

      Are you the daughter of the Jorge Gallardo born in 1924? I have been trying to find more info on him as I believe I May have one of his oil paintings. I have only been able to find a limited amount of images of his work online, but the signature on my painting looks remarkably like his. It is a painting of a church dated 1980, could you direct me to a site where I can find more than just a few images of his work. If you would like to see an image of the painting I have , I. Would be happy to send it. Thx michaeljfo@comcast.net

      Reply
  • The first part of your article describes me to a T; I am working hard to battle all those forms of resistance, with varying degrees of success! Another book that I have found helpful is “Art & Fear” by David Bayles and Ted Orland. This book also addresses some of the reasons for resistance and the necessity to get beyond them. Thanks for a thoughtful essay here; “The War of Art” sounds like a pretty useful book.

    Reply
    • Joe

      I think as long as we’re aware of the ways in which we resist, we’re on the right track. The War of Art is no-nonsense, but to temper it I also think we need to be kind to ourselves and forgive ourselves when we don’t live up to our own expectations.

      Reply
  • Thanks Joe, great article. I own the book, so I’m not writing to win a copy. It had a huge impact on me. So many of the issues you’ve presented resonate, but I think the strongest one (for me) is: Professionals don’t over-identify with their work.

    Once I came to terms with this, the ideas began to flow, I took chances and made giant leaps forward. I saw my profession as an artist as a privilege as well as an obligation. Are you familiar with this Martha Graham quote?:

    “There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.

    If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.

    You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction; a blessed unrest.”

    ~ Martha Graham

    Personally, I’m not entirely convinced about the ‘no satisfaction whatever at any time….’ . I have come to terms with finding satisfaction in things that I think could perhaps be more perfect. Which relates to the idea of ‘waiting for perfection’. But I love this:

    “It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”

    My mantra, for some time now, has been/is ‘keep the channel open’.

    suzanne

    Reply
    • Joe

      Thanks so much for this Suzanne. The Martha Graham quote is beautiful and apt. I agree with you though – I think that one of the reasons we do what we do is satisfaction. Satisfaction is different to applause and accolades; it is personal. I think I may well ‘borrow’ your mantra. Joe

      Reply
  • I began to read this article and wondered how the heck you got into my head and found out my secrets. I have to read this book and gain the courage to dare to fail.

    Reply
    • Joe

      Hi Patti – remember failure is an essential part of success. I struggle with this myself, but am becoming more and more open to it.

      Reply
  • Mary Lynn Gehrett

    Oh my, how timely. This article really resonated with me. I’m currently taking an online Artist Strength Training class with Jane Dunnewold and we are discussing similar things. It helps to know other artists struggle with ‘resistance’ in all it’s forms. And not having a website because I’m waiting for the perfect group of art pieces…just another piece of resistance. Thanks for sharing this book with us!

    Reply
    • Joe

      We love Jane Dunnewold. Her teachings are inspired! Thanks for the comment. It’s a while since you commented. Is your website up yet?

      Reply
    • Joe

      Doing what you love is difficult if you feel judged by it BUT often the judgement is in our own minds, don’t you think? Whether it’s craft or art what does it really matter if you love it?

      Reply
  • I really identify with all these things and would love a copy of the book. Although I definitely create because I love to, I also create because I have to ! The feeling comes from within until I have no choice but to create and then the pressure is released and I am happy. 🙂

    Reply
  • I love this list. I am going to post them in my studio and use them as a set of goals for professional growth. In a nutshell, they certainly resonated with me. It is always good to see the information we all know and struggle with in another format. It helps to elevate my being to the next plateau!

    Reply
  • I have always know that I’m not happy unless I am creating. I think the idea that being a professional artist isn’t entirely tied to the ability to support yourself with your art is freeing. Thanks for the article!

    Reply
    • Joe

      I think professionalism comes in many forms. There are many people earning a living from their art who perhaps aren’t professional in their mind set and vice versa!

      Reply
    • Joe

      I think professionalism comes in many forms. There are many people earning a living from their art who perhaps aren’t professional in their mind set and many who struggle to make ends meet but are resolute in their need to create!

      Reply
  • Sharon Rubuliak

    Many of the concepts in your article resonated for me. I first learned the names for my feelings and behaviors almost ten years ago in the Seriously Creative program led by Mary Holdgrafer. I have been consciously questioning what it is I am resisting and why ever since. In my case it seems the lessons need to be re-learned more often that I care to admit. However, I have learned to be more patient with myself, and I value the insight of each new teacher. The War of Art sounds like a session with a ‘kick in the pants’ teacher — something that works for me.

    Reply
  • I read the book back in January when I was in a bit of an overwhelm (there are so many art events in Miami in the winter) and needed to stay focused on my own career goals. It strengthened my resolve to continue on my path with a few tweaks.
    After I read it, I passed the book along to a friend in another state so I no longer have it in my reference library. Had I kept it, I would refer to it repeatedly.
    Thanks,
    Pamela

    Reply
  • This article has hit home as it opened my eyes to the fact that what is often standing in my way is my ego. Oddly one of my meditation goals for this year has been to overcome both my ego and my jealousy and be truly happy for the successes of others, happy for my own, and okay and able to move on from my failures!

    Reply
  • Great article. It reaffirms what I know to be true – an artist creates because it is their passion and is as fundamental to them as breathing. Being an artist is about working consistently and knowing that progress does not come from lightning bolts of inspiration, but rather through objectivity and thoughtful analysis (from self and others) and the bloody mindedness to keep going even when things don’t seem to be working.

    Reply
    • I am a mature age student about to finish my Master of Art and go out into the big wide world. To think and act in a professional way so that I may exhibit my work as an artist is the dream I have nurtured and am about to see realized. Its a big scary world out there but with determination, and hard work I will get there. The article just confirms ideas that I know to be true. Thank you
      ,

      Reply
  • Have just finished my Diploma of Textile Arts (Melbourne, Australia) I am at the cross roads of being an amateur or a professional artist. After our graduate exhibition I am feeling a lot of the forms of resistance ! No longer being in a class room environment I need some guidance and direction and this book sounds as if it will provide just that.

    Reply
    • Joe

      It’s true – we need structure for creativity and it can be tough when you need to make that structure for yourself. Setting up boundaries and rules for your practice can help, as can a system for creativity.

      Reply
  • What a great article. With a day job and a passion, i understood all that you said. What a great book. I will have to get hold of a copy. Fingers crossed for the draw.

    Reply
  • I need this book to help me figure out where I am & where I am going with my art. Do I have it in me to be a professional. I have had some successes; I LOVE textiles & derive great joy from creating. Why then do I shut down for extended periods of time?

    Reply
  • Thank you for this article! I have been procrastinating a book about textiles for more than a year, it makes me think about why I can not finish it, I got almost everything done, but there is something that makes me feel stuck. I need to read this article one more time and meditate about it. Thanks again 🙂

    Reply
  • “Resistance feels like unhappiness boredom, restlessness, guilt”
    I recognise ALL of these symptoms! What a great article. It was written for me. I feel like I have been striding restlessly along the top edge of a cliffface starting down too scared to jump. All I do is climb down tentetively and then back up again and carry on pacing backward and forwards staring down at the valley below.
    Thank you.
    Jo

    Reply
  • “We tend to narrowly define ‘being a professional’ as being able to make a living at our craft.”
    I have always struggled with this concept and now I ‘see’ ! …. I am professional in the way I work, I just don’t make a living with my work !
    So many of these points hit home and I’m glad to see them in print … but I really want to work on my ego, as I like to share what I know and do, and I love when viewers appreciate the spirit of my work … hate to think I’m being a show-off.
    In defence of EXCUSES (my life gets in my way everyday), “Tolstoy had 13 children and still managed to write War and Peace!” … well !, he wasn’t doing dishes, cooking meals, cleaning house or caring for them when illness struck, all while raising 13 kids … his wife was !!!, enabling hubby to write such a classic and claim such glory. Just saying !
    Wow, I am so glad I read your article … thank you !

    Reply
    • Was thinking exactly the same thing about Tolstoy – I’m sure he didn’t do the hard work of the child rearing!

      Reply
  • One can be professional in attitude and make their living, or be professional in consistancy and discipline. But when I hear the phrase professional artist, I think, earning their living from their art. I don’t think artists should let that one concept-being a pro-come into play. i think if serious vs. not serious. If you’re serious about your art, you do it, you nt think about doing it. I say this harshly from the vantage point of age 60, and seeing what friends made their art no matter what came up-family, a job, illness-and who kept waiting till they nad the perfect studio, the most peaceful afternoon….I was a textile designer and then an accessory designer for years. I earned my living from that work, and that’ll cure one of procrastination, fear, the whole thing. I was employed by companies, and I also worked on my own. Designing is a form of art, but it’s for commercial reasons, so one is obliged to meet the needs of a client or boss. The end. That is one way to be a professional. One can’t last if one can’t pay for housing and food by one’s output. If you consider yourself an artist, with no commercial concerns, you still do need to do what this piece stresses-your art. If you sit there long enough, something will happen. The mistakes and the missteps are the things that lead you down the path in a direction you may not have ever thought of. Now I’m a writer and the same rules apply. As for making a piece of art to “match a sofa,” many interior designers need work that “fits” a client’s needs and while it might not be the romantic idea people have of being am artist, most well-known or successful artists have taken commissions and work with the buyer on concepts. If you don’t need to earn any money from your art then you can do whatever you want, and for many people, some of their is art just for themselves, and their other art is geared towards a market to pay for a studio, supplies…and time! Very lucky people can sit in a studio, or walk outside with a camera, do what they do best with their own vision, and support themselves by only doing that. Being a professional artist is like being a mechanic-if they didn’t go into the garage with a set of tools, they wouldn’t get anything done. I do think that the author understands the insecurities and boredom that all creative people face. The thing that helps me the most is to find interviews or articles about the struggles and work habits of artists I admire. Just saw cartoonist Roz Chast speak and she said that she has to do something like 200 cartoons (or more!) before one gets into the New Yorker.

    Reply
  • I need this! I am an artist! I also need my family to understand I’m an artist. I love to share my knowledge about art & techniques.
    I also have plenty of excuses and being a wife & mother always comes before my art.
    If only I had more hours.
    Thanks for the great read.

    Reply
  • Thank you for this great article! I’m a quilter and textile artist and couple of years ago I opened a fabric shop with hope that I’ll be doing what I love but instead I became a shop keeper!! And I think I was creating more from my heart when I was employed than now when I’m creating for living. And then there is the craft / art war inside and around me!! It would be lovely to win the book, thank you for the opportunity.

    Reply
  • I’m new to this website and this is the first article I’ve read … I picked a good one.
    As with everyone else I’d love to win the book or if not, buy it myself and read it. I hope it’s a quick read because I have the feeling I will be wanting to get back to my studio ASAP! Wonderful dose of inspiration, thanks.

    Reply
  • My resistance is constructed of feelings that I don’t know enough… yet. I have to exhaust the possibilities of each new fabric, paint, yarn, paper, dye, ink I possess, and then acquire more, before I allow myself to create with it. What if there’s another way of doing something that I haven’t explored yet? Maybe I’ve missed something. What if I tried using that stuff with this bit, and vice versa, first? …and then I procrastinate because I don’t actually get round to completing the endless experiments I dream up for myself. If I don’t know what I’m doing I’ve got no right to create in ignorance. I torture myself and I’m my own worst critic. I’m 60 this year and it’s about time I gave myself permission to just enjoy the process.

    Reply
    • Janet, I can relate to this kind of resistance. We also don’t want to “waste” any of those new precious materials. One thing that helps me over that is to give myself a 30 day challenge to create for 15 or 30 minutes a day, to just play. Play with all that fun new stuff. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect and it won’t be, it doesn’t even have to be a little bit good. I found it very freeing the day I made friends with my trash can. Fabric, paint and thread can be replaced, and it not wasted because you will learn something new and get inspired with each session. Some of my favorite pieces were created, or at least started during those times, when I gave myself permission to just enjoy the process.
      I will be 64 soon and have also been struggling with resistance for a while now. I think it’s time for another 30 challenge. Maybe for both of us?

      Reply
  • Thank you Joe for your article on Steven Pressfield’s book – The War of Art – what a great title. I ordered it and read it in a day. Very encouraging for self discipline, self awareness (as opposed to hierarichal orientation seeking others praise/approval) and loved his Supreme Virtue “Contempt for Failure”. We do make our world a better place when we try…..that’s all…….just try……the path is not a smooth one but the lumps and bumps contain much beauty. I have come to appreciate that intentions won’t satisfy, only efforts will.

    Reply
  • I am a french lady who has been very moved by your text. It is so very true…. My sister is a professional artist and I recognize her in the définition you give of a professional artist. A few of my friends are, some would like to be…..what about me? I am the one who doesn’t dare be cause she is not self confident!!! And why not? So many reasons…admiring my sister is one, having been a teacher is another one, whenI show my textile work people often say it is moving or very personal or good; some probable don’ t apppreciate. But I am the only one responsible for postponing, finding awfully bad excuses for it….. Nevertheless, inside me I feel the urge to use my bands, threads, fabrics. I think what is most important is to dare, to admit failure, to be self confident! I have improved but I will read the book to get rid of this blocking resistance! Thank you so much of “shaking” me. Joëlle

    Reply
  • What a great article and review!! A great pep-talk on overcoming resistance in all it’s many forms. I would love to read the book!
    i am a seed bead embroidery artist and do my best work immediately upon waking up. While my hands are still calm and my mind has not taken on to many “avoidance” tactics..i sit with my beads and see what comes before my nine to five job calls. Having a “regular” job can make getting to any art project more of a challenge but we can’t let it stop us! It can’t have our soul!
    I love that about “doing art for the love of art” (my paraphrase). If we keep waiting for something to sell or to get paid for our genius our art may never happen. Don’t stop creating no matter what. Thank you so much for this wonderful supportive article and all the fantastic work at textileartist.org!

    Reply
  • My gosh! I started to look around the room for the video cameras! My world and feelings explained! I really look forward to reading this book and beating the things that plague my creative process and progress! Thank you!

    Reply
  • I do understand we need to really want it; there are ways to make a living out of our passion and if we really love it, opportunities like teaching in adult education, making kits, opening an online shop or even a business are out there;

    Reply
  • Just to add, I love hand embroidery and other textile crafts; textiles are warm, tactile, shiny and this is what makes them gorgeous; the people who are most famous of doing hand embroidery to the most professional level – for example Mary Corbet and Trish Burr, never had official college training in the art, but obviously are very committed and talented individuals;

    Reply
  • I loved this article, ordered the book, and read it in 2 days. It’s an easy read, and quite funny in places. It has helped me to focus on what I want to achieve with my art. I am always much happier and satisfied with the result when I create from my own inspiration rather than what I think people would like to buy. Thankyou for the great article!

    Reply
  • Hello there, thank you for this, it has helped me just when I need it.
    I have ordered the book. Synchronicity is at work here for me.
    Been ‘resisting’ for nearly 25 years, it hurts like hell. No more.
    If it’s ok I might leave another comment after reading the book….
    Thank you ever so much for writing this and from the other comments it looks like I am not alone ! Even if it feels like it sometimes !

    Reply
    • Joe

      So pleased you enjoyed the article – please leave another comment after you’ve read the book – I’d love to hear your thoughts.

      All the best, Joe

      Reply
  • This was exactly what I needed today. I just had a problem with my taxes because I don’t know my inventory. I got so upset and I really wanted to just quit trying to do my art as a business. (I know I can not quit being an artist because that is what I was born to be.) Reading the list of what it takes it became clear that my major problem is organization. I knew it was a problem but never saw it as the source of so many other problems until now. So now I have a new goal for the year. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Joe

      Hi Diane – How are you getting on with your organisation goals? I think often as creative people we feel like boundaries will hold us back, when in actual fact they can be great for productivity.

      Reply
  • I can totally relate to so many of the posts. My biggest problem is a fear of just not being good enough. I even take praise as people just being polite!! I am working at trying to break through my fears but it is hard.

    Reply
  • Am intrigued by the article and will read the book. But what amazed me are the comments. I guess I thought I was the only procrastinator out there! I am encouraged to know that I am a member of a tribe– but now must work my way out of it!

    Reply
    • Joe

      Yep – I think having such access to everyone else’s success (particularly on social media) makes us feel like we’re the only ones not achieving 100% of the time! It’s not true – we all procrastinate, even the most productive people in the world at times find it tough to get going!

      Reply
  • I will have to get the book! The articles are written for me! My husband died last year, and whilst he was ill, I stayed with him rather than going to work in my half- completed studio and now I still can’t go to work there because I tell myself that the studio needs to be finished first! I’m the greatest procrastinater (is there such a word?).I need impetus to start working again, and it helps to belong to an art group that has open studios once a year and other titled small exhibitions, the latest being the Circle of Evolution. There are quite a few issues quoted that resonate with me that I’m very keen to work on, one of them being the need for validation as an artist from someone I respect. Whether I win the book or not, I’m going to get one and choose a mantra that I can respond to, and put it up on th studio wall.

    Reply
  • Hi
    Like many others who have read your article and left a comment, I can identify with all of the forms of ‘resistance’ listed but particularly ‘waiting for perfection’.

    The article has given me a lot to think about so I thank you for that. Whilst it isn’t a good thing that many others recognise themselves in what you have written I do take some encouragement that I am not alone in thinking and behaving in this way.

    It is all too easy to feel that you are the only person who struggles with these things, so I also thank those who have been honest enough to share this.

    Lots to think about but even more to ACT upon me thinks!

    t r a c y

    Reply
    • Joe

      Waiting for perfection is something I have struggled with too. We really must put our necks on the line though and let ourselves be somewhat vulnerable. If not now, when?

      Reply
  • I need this book too! I am a professional artist and have been for over thirty years, but unfortunately being ‘professional’ doesn’t mean that procrastination, task avoidance and fear stop…they don’t. Sure, I still make work but being a full time professional artist doesn’t make it any easier. I’m still sitting on the computer not doing my tax return, or finding other things that are more pressing (walking the dogs) rather than finishing a drawing, because there are no immediately pressing deadlines. People ask ‘what inspires you’? …and I tell them, only half jokingly, ‘a deadline’! Outwardly I may look like I am doing ok, but in my head I am battling demons every day instead of achieving what I really want, which is the same thing we all want…happiness and joy in what we are doing and how we are living. Maybe this is the book that can save me, or at least give me a push in the right direction.

    Reply
    • Joe

      A deadline can be a great motivator! When we have to push ourselves on with nobody expecting anything from us it’s tough. I have had a full time job for the past 3 years (the first time I’ve ever had that in my life) and it was actually a relief in some ways to not have to be disciplining myself all the time. Whilst the job was creative in nature and I got great satisfaction from it, I’m now back to being self employed as I need new challenges! So what I’m saying is I understand your plight – did you get the book?

      Reply
  • Hi Joe

    Pressed the link on Twitter that brought me to your book review, I must buy it!
    I’ve read your article/s and love your ability to write so eloquently, telling us exactly how it is! It’s True – Resistance is an issue and not just for me!

    My art flows because I have a passion to create; using textiles to raise issues regarding the over abundant manufacturing of cheap disposable clothing, ending up in landfill.
    Secondly I rescue and keep ex-battery hens and over the years I have learned about the plight of these intelligent girls who are being used as a machine to lay eggs and then killed once they are spent. It’s a life worse than death for these ladies! Tragically, approximately 50 billion chickens are raised mostly for meat. They have a life of misery for a few weeks and then are dispatched as food full of chemicals in many cases. As my compassion has intensified it drives my textile art work because I want my artwork to be seen to tell the Story, to gain more respect, more appreciation and to view Chickens like we do our cats and dogs as pets because chickens have an intelligence of maybe a toddler age 4 years old.
    So when I hit a resistant barrier I look outside into my garden a view my family of free range chickens.
    Chickens are a therapy, my driving force, my life!
    I gave up my day job for them, I now keep going, creating a business for the loves of my life, chickens and textile art!
    My son in London finds my passion somewhat of an embarrassment. He doesn’t want to admit to his high profile clients what his mum does for a living!
    He wishes I created images of Tigers, elephants or other exotic creatures! This resistence in his mind affected me for a while, it knocked my confidence. I’ve come to terms with his lack of understanding and knowledge now and I have recently explain it clearly to him.
    Why I do what I do is because a ‘chicken’ is my pet as are my cats, I love all animals, I don’t want to eat any animal.
    A chicken in my Artwork in this sense of meaning to me is a ‘metaphor’ for life and for justice! Using my textile art daily is an exciting and pro-active way to raise awareness for chickens as pets not products!
    I do love to show off my art on my website, through galleries and at exhibition because I want my audience to think and to talk to me and to ask me, Why Chickens?
    I am honoured knowing that I have made a difference!
    Great work Joe, very inspiring article, thank you and your audience for reading my comment.
    Blessings and happy new year to you all

    Jane

    Reply
    • Joe

      Hello Jane – Firstly I really appreciate your kind words about my writing – it’s something I’m really passionate about and want to make more time to develop.

      And what a fascinating story – I think the commitment you show to your subject is admirable. You deserve to be appreciated and so does what you make!

      Reply
  • Steven Pressfield gets inside us ‘artists ‘heads & has blown fresh air through mine. As a passionate designer/maker in ‘preloved’ textiles I put quotation marks round ‘artists’ because so many people still baulk at the idea of recycled fabrics,never mind actually purchasing an item made from them. I include some of my family & friends in this mindset. For example in my village there is a group of accomplished artists who have organised themselves into a group & hold Open Studios. I know one or two in this group & I have not been asked to join. Neither have I made a request to join,because rejection would knock my confidence back perhaps permanently. I know my creations are great,unique,quirky & affordable & they sell! Maybe it’s time to make that request,I think I’ll go for it, any thoughts anyone ?

    Reply
    • Joe

      Barbara – I’m sorry I’m replying to this over a year later but I wanted to get in touch to see if you did make the request? I’d love to know. If not that group then join another – life i full of rejection and it’s important not to equate that with self worth. This is something that is always a struggle for me too but I’m working at it constantly. Be well.

      Reply
  • just taken the time out of my ‘busy’ schedule to read this article which totally resonates with my work ethos – such had disciplines to overcome and keep up when there also many other life factors to deal with …. I think especially for women artists who want a family as well as a career ! Have written down – ‘Professionals are …’ in my sketchbook as an affirmative reminder ….

    Reply
    • Joe

      Great idea re: sketchbook. I’m not a woman but I certainly try and do too much – I’m learning to streamline and commit wholeheartedly to just a few projects but I get easily distracted when something new and shiny comes along! Always a work in progress I think.

      Reply
  • I’m glad I stumbled upon this article I’m a songwriter and I have written two unpublished books and you hit right on the mark with this one. I’m pro in the mindset but no cash flow. Thanks for reading in advance.

    Reply
  • Sherron Pampalone

    I take my art so seriously, yet it is true, I often procrastinate. Thanks for the article. I finally have gotten to the point that I realize I LOVE the creating process, and it’s much more than a hobby to me.

    Reply
    • Joe

      Procrastination is epidemic in the modern age. It’s important to forgive ourselves some of the time but not let ourselves off the hook all the time I think!

      Reply
  • This is a great article. I glad I don’t procrastinate, I create every day, tidying my work space only happens when I can’t find something vital. I still work at another job but short hours and I am reducing hour each year. This article is food for thought. I’ll have to get this book to keep on track.

    Reply
    • Joe

      Hi Sonya – sounds like you have the drive which is essential isn’t it? Are you still a your job? I’d love to hear where you are on your journey now.

      Reply
  • Thank you for this article. It’s rather nice once in a while to have one’s own beliefs validated. I know I’m a professional artist, have no problem with creative ideas and can be very selfish when I want to press on with a piece of work as everything else goes out the window!
    Creative art is a funny thing, a bit like an addiction, you just have to do it! You don’t do it to please others and when you’ve done it, you don’t necessarily like what you’ve achieved, you just knew you were driven to do it.
    I just wish I had the same drive to get my work out there!
    Anyone know a gallery that would be happy to exhibit narrative kimono?

    Reply
    • Joe

      Hi Deanna – can’t help on the gallery I’m afraid but I do think you could try applying some of the discipline you clearly have for your process to the promotion of what you create. It is made with passion and deserves to be seen, shared, appreciated! Go well.

      Reply
  • What can I say? Sometimes things just come around to you at the ‘right’ time, I feel as if the author has just taken the sentences out of my head, almost word for word and it has made me sit up and take note. I NEED this book sooooo much.

    Reply
  • Hi Joe, I feel like I have been at war with my art all of my life-veer 40+ years!. Everyone thinks you have to make a lot of money to be successful at art, yet I still struggle along and pull in drips and drabs from different sources. My artistic common its considers me successful. Maybe this book will help me get over my shortcomings

    Reply
    • Joe

      It’s tricky not to judge our success in monetary terms because it’s such a solid measure unlike the satisfaction we garner from what we do, but it sounds to me like you are doing exactly what you should be doing – keep on keeping on!!

      Reply
  • Yes, this article resonates with me too: as my artistic work is not sufficient at all for my living, and truthfully I do not apply myself regularly every day, I am “ashamed” and don’t present myself as an
    artist…. What a way to go…..
    I admire you all, wish you a steady development and SUCCESS, whatever this means to everyone of you, and a big THANKS to the author of the article, JOE, with contributions from the Book of STEVEN PRESSFIELD. >My God, I have so many books to read on DOING ART, by now!
    (Sorry for my imperfect English, I am Italian!)
    I bless the brothers who have founded and are promoting TEXTILE ARTS Org: As far as I know (and I spend a lot of time online) THERE IS NO SIMILAR ORGANIZATION in Italy and I am hungry to read all what arrives from them. Keep up with agnificent work.
    Thank you again
    Irene Romanelli, vintageliving@libero.it

    Reply
    • Joe

      Thanks Irene for such a lovely positive comment. Yes – I too have a penchant for collecting books (so many unread!!!). We are only human and can’t do everything all the time – it’s about prioritising and doing what’s truly important to us I guess. All the best.

      Reply
  • This is a great article, especially regarding the fear and ego factor; and the discipline of disregarding distractions. I recently purchased a house and put my artwork on hold for 2 years. Now that I am back to creating, I fingmd it immensely difficult to get off the internet addiction, but feel fabulous when I am stitching. I find it a process of basking in the rewards of my work and ignoring the emptiness of online pursuits. I would love to have this book as it is more concrete than esoteric.

    Reply
    • Joe

      Lisa – the internet is a wonderful resource but it can become a addiction can’t it? My downfall is Facebook – I could quite easily whittle away hours if I allowed myself but there’s no real satisfaction involved. Isn’t it funny how sometimes the things that bring real rewards (like how fabulous you feel when stitching) are the things that are hardest to get down and do?

      Reply

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