The Key to Creative Confidence


Table of Contents

Being an artist or finding work within the creative sector, as rewarding and fulfilling as it can be, is usually plagued with long days and late nights of questioning whether what you are doing is good enough. Are you talented and skilled enough? Are you ready to take the leap? Or for some people, it’s simply a question of where do I even begin?

We have all had these doubts and downward spirals, but the most helpful thing I have learned is that you aren’t alone in feeling this. Trying to get started or promote yourself as a creative professional is daunting and all of us (experienced or not) are still trying to figure out what we are doing!
However, one of the most important attributes for being successful within the creative sector, no matter what field you are in, is having confidence. A recent Guardian article states confidence as being one of three key factors in being successful in the creative world.

So, if you are thinking of being self-sustained from your practice or getting a job in a creative organisation, confidence will tie into cultivating your creative ability, help you build a network of contacts and bounce back when things don’t go to plan, as well as securing a job in the first place.
Battling self-doubt is the first step to achieving your goals and here are a few tips that will help along the way.

5 Key Steps for Creative Confidence

  1. Create without pressure!
    The first step is always the hardest and even more so when you have put pressure on yourself to create the most perfect outcome. Looking at the blank canvas can be off-putting, so why not get some ideas out and be experimental before starting a final piece? Taking small steps is always less daunting than trying to tackle big problems. So rather than stalling and allowing your anxiety to build, break down the larger picture into smaller sized pieces – you’ll be more confident when faced with these challenges in the future.

    “Don’t get ready, get started!” – Tom Kelley Co -author of Creative Confidence, Lecturer at Stanford University

  2. Judgement Now this is a tough one, as half the battle is to resist judging yourself. The main thing is to embrace your ideas (good or bad). The majority of us end up self-editing our thoughts because we are afraid of what others might think or say. However, the nature of creativity is to take risks, so don’t restrict your ideas and just go for it!The other side of this is facing judgement from others. Its very easy to get defensive about a piece of work you have poured your heart and soul into, but you have to realise that you are still on a journey. Learn from those more experienced than you and don’t be afraid to take on other people’s comments. Collaborative input can be very rewarding, so take time to listen to your peers.

    “To a young artist, I would say: just go day by day and see what happens. Don’t worry about other people’s judgment. If it resonates, then listen, otherwise pay no attention. Self-doubt is always present for artists because we have the job and the privilege of defining problems and then asking ourselves whether we have solved them” – Susan Hiller, Artist (London)

  3. Identify your barriers
    Identify what is holding you back, whether it is certain situations or people and then rationally analyse why these situations would trigger those feelings for you. Remember that you are in control and you make the choice as to whether you project confidence or not. It’s easy to imagine and mentally prepare for the worst case scenario, but in doing this, you are actively setting yourself up to fail. Be positive!
  4. Actively push yourself
    A step further after you identify the triggers of what makes you uncomfortable is to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Try to push yourself, whether its striving to write 5,000 words before the end of day, or creating 50 sketches instead of 5. You’ll be surprised with what you can achieve.

    “Changing behaviour isn’t easy and can only be achieved through reinforcement… By confronting your demons, the fear will subside” – Shaun Thomson, CEO of Sandler Training (UK)

  5. Confidence vs self-esteem
    Confidence is a frame of mind. It is what we project, how we want others to see ourselves and is very different to self-esteem, which is how we really feel about ourselves. The main thing to realise is that confidence is something that you practise, not something that you are born with. The most confident person in the room can still be crippled with low self-esteem, however, the more you practise portraying confidence, the easier it will be to become confident.

Everyone experiences moments of self-doubt, but you can choose whether you want it to effect your work and yourself. Practice being confident, identify your barriers, push yourself and embrace your ideas (and those of others). Being successful within the creative industry will not be an easy journey, but actively and continually making small assertive steps, will improve your creative practice in the long run.

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The future of paper arts

A Statement from the Board of Directors


Like many organisations, PAPER Arts has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. In 2020, on appointment of a highly skilled CEO, we made the bold decision to review our business model and begin a process of research and development in order to shape a new service and to better support creatives in Bristol with professional development, networking and the opportunity to learn new skills.

Throughout the pandemic we have proudly supported creatives in Bristol, with a focus on young people from St Pauls, our Creative Employment programme hosted over 20 sessions and we welcomed 17 young people to feed into our research and development proposal. 

However, the last 18 months have been a huge challenge, while we’ve been able to successfully deliver a plethora of projects since our inception seven years ago, we have been unable to secure the funding necessary to realise our ambitious plans for the future and to provide our organisation with much needed financial stability.

As a result, it is with a heavy heart that the current PAPER Arts team, made up of Grace, Kate, Katy, Lau and Amie will no longer be able to continue in their roles. Our small team has delivered a substantial amount of value to the community we serve and the Board of Directors are endlessly grateful for the skills and professionalism they bring with them each and every day. We are proud to know and work alongside such talented individuals and believe that the arts sector is a better place with them in it. 

The ideas generated by this team are inspiring and hopeful and the Board of Directors wholeheartedly believe in the importance of supporting the creative community in Bristol.

As September ends and the seasons change PAPER Arts will be going into hibernation in order to survive this adversity. Our voluntary Board of Directors will spend the coming months considering the future of PAPER Arts, the role we can play in the arts sector in Bristol and how we can sustainably move forwards. We don’t know what that will look like yet, but as soon as we are able to share more with you we will. 

In the meantime, should you have any questions or concerns or if you would like to speak to someone about the future of PAPER Arts please don’t hesitate to contact [email protected] – Kirsten Cree, one of the Board of Directors will be monitoring this inbox. 

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