(Spoiler alert: Yes. You are creative enough. You are an artist at heart. But I know you probably want more than that.)
Creativity is a term that I find escapes clear definitions. It can’t be stuffed into boxes, yet we all seem to have an opinion on what’s creative and what’s not. Except when it comes to our own work. Then we’re more than happy (and quick) to judge a work of art fake or not creative enough. But here’s the good news: I think doubt is a sign that you are an artist at heart.
I think we’ve all doubted ourselves – I still do every time I send my art out into the world. I’m worried of failure and of ridiculing myself. Any given moment I fear that someone is going to call me out on being a fraud.
If you struggle with this kind of thinking, I want you to know that it will not stop you from doing your best creative work, unless you allow it. And whatever you do, please don’t allow it. Accept your doubt as a part of the creative process.
I’ve written a list of ten signs that show you are an artist at heart. At the bottom of the post, you can find the list as an image. Pin it, print it, screenshot it… Keep it to remind you of your worth as an artist.
Because that’s what you are: an artist at heart.
Sign 1: You think about the world around you.
Occasionally something will happen and it will make you frown. Seeing an act of kindness makes you all teary-eyed. Observing people is so natural to you, you don’t really even notice you’re doing it. You get excited about reading articles on subjects you know nothing about.
You constantly think about the world around you. You wonder what people mean when they smile; when they whisper to each other; when they bite their lip. This quality makes you an artist who is able to describe the world around you, and who has a deep calling to observe it in all its wonderful detail.
Sign 2: You approach the world with wonderful curiosity.
Because you’re drawn to observe, you aren’t afraid to get into strange situations. Or maybe you’re more afraid than ever, but that doesn’t stop you from straying from the path. You catch yourself staring at how light streams through the window and leaning in towards the wind just to see if it would carry your weight.
Seeing birds take off makes you giddy. You stare at your own hands in the mirror for an hour, because you see something there – something you’re desperate to catch and somehow store in your memory long enough to turn into art. This quality makes you an artist who’s able to make others feel what you feel.
Sign 3: You are able to make something new.
Yes, this is textbook definition. You don’t shy away from trying something no one has tried before. Just the thought of muddying the waters makes your fingers twitch with excitement. Your imagination is an endless source of art no one has seen before.
I hope you realise how unique your own point of view makes you. No one can take that away from you, nor can they ever copy it to make sense. It’s something that belongs to you, and it’s what draws people to things you create. This quality makes you artist who’s able to surprise the world with what you do.
Sign 4: You make new connections.
No two things are ever too far away to not make a connection in your mind. That’s what I admire about you; that’s what the world admires about you. Any little sight or sound can evoke a work of art, when combined with something completely different.
This is where your unique point of view comes in handy. I wish every artist in the world would know this – when they make a connection between two arbitrary things, they are the only ones able to make that connection in that precise way. This quality makes you an artist who inspires others to look at the world a little differently.
Sign 5: You recycle your old work.
You have notebook upon notebook filled with ideas that are waiting for their moment. Sometimes you recognise that an idea is not ready yet; it needs something new to connect with. You don’t judge your old ideas just because they’re not brand new. They’ve had time to develop and become an ingredient for brilliance.
Art you’ve sent out into the world before sometimes makes you cringe; but it also makes you smile. Why? Because it is a sign that you’ve always been, and always will be, an artist. When your mind isn’t done processing a theme, you don’t hesitate to pick it up again. This makes you a tireless artist.
Sign 6: You evoke emotion.
Your purpose is to evoke emotion in others, no matter what those emotions may be. Sometimes your work angers people, sometimes it inspires them. You want to make people realise something new about life. Seeing someone wipe a tear from the corner of their eye warms your heart, because that’s when you know your message is getting across.
I wish everyone would feel everything as deeply as you do. It makes your soul beautiful to the core. This quality makes you artist who wants to change the world.
Sign 7: Occasionally, your ideas fail.
Art is a balancing act like no other. In order to evoke emotion, you have to take risks and take the route no one has taken before you. We’re constantly dancing on the border between success and failure. Learn to accept failure as part of what makes you so creative.
You might fear failure, but it never stops you from creating. All the work you put out there isn’t meant to be received in the same way – explore what you can learn from your failed ideas and take all that material to the next thing you do. This quality makes you an artist who people admire – and who is able to admire themself.
Sign 8: You keep doubting yourself…
Because there’s always the possibility that you will fail, you keep doubting yourself. Artist’s block feels very real. You fear that any moment, someone might stand up, point their finger at you and shout “You’re a fraud! You know nothing!”
You expose your soul every time you make art, so doubt will always be a companion. What you do is you master the art of listening to it. Gently. Listening to doubt is not the same as giving into it, and it is definitely not the same as accepting it. Speak kind words to doubt, and it might change its mind. This quality makes you fearless artist.
Sign 9: …but you can’t help but create.
Even when odds are against you, you keep at it. Living the dream means sitting down to do the work; absorbing all the wonders this world has to offer, and then transforming them into works of art. There is a tingling in your fingers and a fire in your heart, and they will not be still. They should not be still.
When the weight of the world is on your shoulders, you create. When you feel angry, you create. When you’re happy, you share that joy through creating. This quality makes you an artist who will not be stopped.
Sign 10: Saying “I’m an artist” makes your heart flutter.
Giving yourself permission to call yourself an artist feels exciting, thrilling. Almost forbidden. You whisper it to yourself in the darkest hour of the night, and you fall asleep with a smile on your face. “I am an artist” is the answer you give people when they ask who you are. You check their faces for reactions, but they never doubt you.
Say it out loud now: I am an artist.
This quality makes you an artist who can change the world.
I’d love to know: Is doubt something you struggle with? What do you think defines an artist? What is creativity?
Now go write the world more beautiful, you awesome little human!