Does the thought of it make you cringe?

When I think of talking about my work or sharing it, my insides feel like an angry clown whipped up a balloon animal inside my stomach, which expanded and exploded into my chest.

I think that’s how Jerry felt recently when he was anticipating a call from a writer from Western Art & Architecture Magazine. A little while ago we found out he was going to be featured in the “Illuminations” (Artist’s To Watch) section of their June/July issue, as well as in the June issue of Western Art Collector and Southwest Art magazines.

After the initial excitement, Jerry became nervous for the telephone interviews. As each were scheduled and Jerry anticipated the calls, he felt anxiety, barely ate, and couldn’t sleep. Before the first one he woke up around 4:00 am and went out to his studio to try to relax and prepare.

What is it that makes anyone nervous to talk about themselves?  Is it saying the wrong thing? Sounding like an idiot – or worse, uninteresting? Or is it being put on public display – personally, creatively, and artistically – in front of a hoard of new people?

I was terrified about starting this website and sharing my creative learning (and stumbling) process. But I went for it for the very reasons that I am so excited about and supportive of Jerry’s opportunities:

  • We need to talk about our work, share our gifts, and conquer fears so that others can enjoy it
  • We need to support, encourage and hold each other up
  • We need to celebrate our accomplishments

In his book, The Painter’s Process: The Inner Voice, William F. Reese says, “Most people who reach a certain level of artistic achievement are considered to be among the “gifted” by those who wish they could do it. And a gift it may well be, I’m just not certain who the gifted one is. Is it the singer with the voice of angels, or is it the audience blessed with the opportunity to listen? … The singer was handed the responsibility of delivering this gift. As painters we are also responsible for fostering and delivering this gift, developed to its fullest potential.”

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” – Joseph Chilton Pearce

So how can you become more comfortable talking about yourself and your work?

Some people are naturals at expressing themselves and articulating what they want to say. For others, a day in the dentist’s chair having all their teeth pulled would be more appealing.

Asking yourself some questions can help. One of the writer’s emailed Jerry a list of questions prior to the interview, which really helped him to pinpoint what he wanted to say about himself and his work. Getting it down on paper first helped make it clear in his mind and put him at ease before talking about it. As a result, the article really portrayed who Jerry is and his process. Similarly, I have also heard that it helps to journal or write about your process and then go through it afterwards to see what stands out to you, what may be unique or interesting to others, and extract the major points.

Here are some questions that may be helpful to consider and write answers to:

  • When did you start your craft? Why/how did you get into it?
  • What was your major influence to pursue art?
  • Who have been/are major influences in your life? How? Why?
  • What artists do you like? Why?
  • What do you enjoy painting/writing about/etc? Why?
  • What medium do you use and why?
  • How would you describe yourself as an artist
  • How would you describe your art?
  • Do you have any hobbies or are there things you enjoy that inspire your art?
  • What are your strengths? What do you struggle with?
  • What have been your career highs/lows?
  • What are your goals with your art?
  • Why do you do it?

Exploring and writing answers to these questions can help to better define what you do and why, so that when you talk to others and they ask what you do it is easier to recall and explain.

How do you feel when talking about your work? Are there any techniques you have used that have helped?  Please share.

Photo Credit: bethlenditamas via Compfight cc