A few years ago I would cringe when my husband would introduce me to people and said ‘Koosje is an artist’. I hardly knew where to look or how to behave. Why? Because I thought that an Artist makes Art (yup, with a capital A). With my journal sketches I certainly couldn’t qualify as an Artist, could I? Okay I did go to art school, but that was to learn to photograph, and I never finished it because I started working as a freelancer – it was work, not art.
Artists have at least an exhibition every now and then, or they get paid for their Art… right?

Wrong.

Sure, a professional artist gets paid for their work, but my husband was completely right to call me an artist. I just made the mistake of listening to my inner critic telling me I couldn’t qualify.

If you recognize the discomfort when someone refers to you as an artist, try to take a step back.
Other people don’t hear that voice of your inner critic, and therefore they see your art with different eyes. So part of your discomfort could be that your inner critic tells you that ‘it’s not good enough’. Which, we all know, is not true, but the voice is hard to ignore.

To shut down the inner critic, remember that you are an artist, because of the fact that you make art. Whether it’s a doodle, a painting, a quilt, a poem or whatever you create. And it’s worth sharing. Not only will you find encouragement from the people you share it with, you will also inspire others with it!

Here’s a suggestion:

if your inner critic pops up too often and gets in the way of your creativity (saying things like: “what are you doing? you’re not even a real Artist!”, “your painting sucks!”, “you call that Art?”, or any similar comments), draw your inner critic. It’ll help you to realize how ugly and mean it is and in the meantime using the inner critic to actually make art anyway.

This is a drawing I did of my inner critic today. Tomorrow it might look completely different. Without even thinking about it, I translated my feelings about her with my pen line. Quick lines, square shapes and dark lines to emphasize the expression on the face.

Your inner critic will look very different than mine does. Maybe it’s a portrait like mine, but it might as well be red furious ball of lines and scribbles, or a page full of dark thick pen lines and doodles… who knows!
Give it a go. Throw your emotions in there, your discomfort, your annoyance, the feeling of being blocked or insecure… It can be quite therapeutic.
Maybe you want to even crumple up the drawing and throw it in the garbage. Or burn it. Whatever it takes to get rid of that horrible inner critic that keeps you from doing what you love.

By now, it doesn’t feel weird anymore to introduce myself as an artist – it just took a bit of getting used to, I guess. Of course the inner critic bugs me every now and then. We all have that voice inside our heads. But if we deal with it instead of letting it lead the way, we can all keep developing that creative habit and feel that big sense of accomplishment that even a quick doodle can bring.