How To Deal With Imposter Syndrome As An Artist

Knowing how to deal with imposter syndrome (also known as fraud syndrome) is very important. Although it is a common occurrence in any field, as an artist it’s something that can bug us a lot!

We often compare our work with others, and it’s important to overcome our self doubts to improve as an artist!

How can you deal with Imposter Syndrome? First, you need to accept it and that it’s common to happen. Then you fight it. Take a break, work on things you love and feel confident in, and share your worries with a friend, partner or family!

It is important to know that you’re not alone and that this is not a permanent feeling as long as you don’t let it get to you. Give some time to yourself and your art if needed, but never give up! Let’s go over this matter with some tips to overcome imposter syndrome.

What Is Imposter Syndrome?

Impostor Syndrome (also known as failed artist syndrome) is when an artist feels they are not good enough and don’t have the skills required to be successful.

Do you ever feel like your art isn’t enough? Is self-doubt looming over you?

Worse! You feel that your art is just a bad copy of some other artists you follow! That you’re a fake, and if you ever had any proper success, it was just pure luck.

If so, then chances are this terrible bug is biting you. Imposter syndrome is a feeling of self-doubt and insecurity.

Even though we’re successful and working hard toward our objectives, we still feel that we’re not.

This is quite normal to happen. Often we find ourselves comparing our work with others. It does not happen only with beginners or less known artists. No, even people who are popular and very successful will find themselves feeling this way.

Even though this can happen to any person in any field, it can be felt especially among artists, writers, and other creative fields.

We often need to feel inspired to create something new, and somedays, we’ll just wake up and feel like our art is terrible.

cartoon drawing of an artist dealing with self doubt and negative thoughts
Don’t let the negative thoughts get to you!

It is also common to see it happen with people that are just getting out of school and entering this new and frightening adult world. Suddenly we’re not children and teenagers anymore and need to enter the working world. From one moment to the next, we see people that are much more successful than us and that some will get that success faster than others.

As someone who’s felt this way and still struggles with it from time to time, I have to say: the Imposter Syndrome is common and normal to happen. This doesn’t mean you should sit and wait for it to pass. No, we need to fight it! There are several ways to do so and of course, everyone is different and will have different ways to deal with the imposter syndrome.

And even more important than learning to defeat it is to learn how to avoid imposter syndrome! We don’t want anything to do with that fellow. We want to be happy with our art, ourselves as well as with other artists and their art!

Art is a beautiful world where we share our creations and learn with each other. So take that in and take your fight to the imposter syndrome!

How To Fight Imposter Syndrome As An Artist

Many artists in the art world go through this syndrome. Sometimes it’s because of their low self esteem or their limiting beliefs.

But if you want to stop experiencing imposter syndrome, here are some tips that you can follow.

Acknowledge it

The first step to fighting and beating impostor syndrome is understanding and accepting that it’s a normal feeling.

It doesn’t happen only to you. Remember that we only show parts of ourselves to the people around us. That means you don’t always see what other people are struggling with, either.

Nowadays, mental issues are finally starting to be talked about out loud. Mental health should not be a stigma, and it’s something we all struggle with. Be it either with imposter syndrome, social anxiety, depression, and others.

Be vocal with your negative thoughts if it helps you! Remember that your self worth is not tied to the creative work you produce.

Nowadays mental issues are finally starting to be talked out loud.

I often see many fellow artists being open about how they feel mentally on my Twitter or Instagram feeds. I feel sympathy towards them and understand what they’re going through, but it also makes me feel like I’m not alone.

Talk to someone about it

The second step to beat imposter syndrome is to understand that we’re all different and deal with things differently.

For example, you don’t need to post about how you’re feeling on any social media platform. You don’t owe anything to your followers. If it’s something you prefer to leave in your private life, then do so.

Whenever I feel down, I know I have my partner at home ready to help me. If I can’t be as productive as I usually am, he’ll work harder that day. And the same happens when he’s the one feeling down.

If you have someone you trust and need to talk to, please do so. Some people might prefer to keep everything for themselves, but that usually just makes it harder for you.

Seek out a friend, family, or partner and share your worries and anxieties with them.

They don’t even need to do anything for you. Sometimes listening to what we have to say is more than enough.

Take a break

Finally, take a break. If you’re fighting and trying to finish a drawing in frustration, chances are your work won’t be at a level you know you can do and you won’t be happy with it either. Sometimes we need to stop and take a few steps back.

Get up and go for a walk or just stretch for a bit around the house. Watch a movie or something that makes you happy. Pick up your sketchbook and draw something that never fails to make you happy.

cartoon drawing of a character taking a break and beating imposter syndrome
Take a break to help you beat impostor syndrome!

Restart what you’re working on from scratch if needed!

Personal growth doesn’t need to be constant. Rest and get back to it later.

Sometimes all we need is a reset. Again, each person has their way of dealing with their anxieties.

I found out that sometimes the best to do is not push it. It will only make me feel worst. Other times, I try to do the most I can. Even if it’s a less productive day, I did my best and did something.

Sometimes all we need is a reset.

Listen to your body and mind, reflect on it and see how you can best surpass the imposter syndrome!

Impostor Syndrome Examples

There are different ways the imposter syndrome can manifest. This all depends on our personality and our insecurities.

And these can hold you back quite a lot.

Let’s see some examples:

The Fraud

This example is when everything you do seems like it’s fraudulent. You feel like a fraud.

One day we wake up and feel everything we do isn’t original. We’re just copying from someone else. That one day, someone will catch up to our fraud and expose us.

It’s a very common feeling.

Artists that dwell on their negative thoughts have a nonsensical fear of being exposed to their friends and family and the whole art world.

The truth is, it’s extremely hard to be 100% original, and I dare say even impossible.

We are all inspired by something and give our voice to it. Unless you’re tracing others’ work and calling it your own, I assure you, you’re doing well.

Your work is real and needed in the art world!

The Lucky One

Sometimes we feel our accomplishments are the result of luck.

We didn’t work for it enough or were never enough for the praise. It was just luck! Luck can be always present in any situation, but luck doesn’t come alone.

If you earned it, it’s because you worked for it. It doesn’t matter that it seems like someone else worked for longer or harder for the same goal.

The opposite applies as well if someone took less time to accomplish the same goal you have or had, it doesn’t mean it was all luck. Everyone works for their goals, we just have different paces!

Everything Needs To Be Perfect

If it isn’t 100% perfect, then it’s not good. This is a very limiting belief for your own personal growth.

You expect too much of yourself.

This is the number one reason I see aspiring artists giving up on their art. You can’t aim for perfection if you’re just starting.

Even in later stages, we must accept that perfection doesn’t exist. There’s always space to improve!

Accept that what you’re doing right now is the best you can at the moment and that you’ll improve with time. The more you do, the better your work will look in the long run.

You’re not 100% happy with the drawing you just did? Well, redo it tomorrow if needed. That one is done and it’s time to move on. Otherwise, we’ll get stuck and unable to move forward!

The Genius or “High Achiever”

Did you ever feel that school was easy and had great grades very easily? Among family or friends, were you the so-called smartest? Then this one is for you.

People that grew up this way will often feel shame for not being good at something on first try.

We evaluate our self worth based on the speed we accomplish something instead of our efforts. Because we never really felt the effort to do anything at school.

Until we’re not in school anymore.

Suddenly we’re adults, and there’s too much going on. One single thing goes wrong, and all insecurities and anxiety rush in. This isn’t supposed to happen! I’m great at everything, I’m an high achiever!

Take a deep breath, we’re not perfect.

Some things we’ll be good at and others we’ll have to work extra to be good at. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, but you can do this!

Some of the impostor syndrome examples, like the Lucky One and the Genius, there are many different kinds!

These are the main examples.

Remember that those things your brain is trying to convince you about, are lies. You don’t feel that your art is bad or not good enough all the time! Remember the times you felt good about it and remind yourself that you’re going to feel that way again.

Never accept what the imposter syndrome is trying to tell you. Fight it and tell if you’ve had enough. You’re a work in progress and the road is long and slow. Take pleasure on that road and what you learn in it.

Never accept what the imposter syndrome is trying to tell you.

Look back to where your art was 1 year, 6 months or even just 1 month ago and see your improvements. We’re always growing and improving and sometimes we need to remind ourselves of that. Our accomplishments are our own and they matter!

Comparing Yourself To Other Artists

Focusing on other artists work on social media like Instagram and Facebook can give you a sense of failure and not belonging.

This can worsen the effects of imposter syndrome! It will also delay the improvement of your art and your personal growth.

The point of following other artists on social media is to cheer on them and learn from them. Never compare yourself to others. I know this is an easy hole to fall into.

I often see fellow artists not being able to move on from an ‘apprentice’ role, because they keep on comparing themselves to their peers.

This makes them feel like they’re never good enough to work as an artist professionally. Most of the time, we’re the ones responsible for moving forward. Often, we’re the ones putting obstacles and barriers on our way. It is normal to be scared and share our art to the world.

But it’s something you need to do at some point if being an artist is what you want. I’m not talking about posting art on social media only. It is important to have a social presence, but you can also live without it.

Often, we’re the ones putting obstacles and barriers on our way.

Having a portfolio is a lot of times quite enough, when you’re looking for a job on the creative field. Even then, you have to show your art to other people. It doesn’t matter it isn’t on a level you want it to be yet. For someone else, your art is already great and enough!

Remember that how good an art piece looks is basically completely subjective.

Your art is always enough, and someone will look up to it, just like you do with artists that you love. Learn from your peers and the people you admire instead of comparing yourself with them.

Remember that most of the time, these people have much more experience and years of drawing than you have. It’s only natural that they are at a different level.

I would also want to point out: those same artists you look up to? They also have their own insecurities. They probably feel the same way that you sometimes do.

As I said, imposter syndrome touches us all, whether we want it or not, so we’re all in the same ship! Sometimes we feel better about our work and others not so much.

Follow other artists that you look up to and that inspire you, but learn to love your art as well! Leave the fear of failure behind you and overcome imposter syndrome once and for all.

Getting Rid Of Negative Thoughts

Whenever you feel down, riddled with self-doubt and negative thoughts, try to place yourself on the previous day or the one before that. Remember how you felt?

You felt good and were proud of your work.

Keep this in mind whenever your imposter syndrome head catches up to you. It’s lying to you. Whatever thoughts get to your head are not real.

The proof is that you’ve felt good before and you know you’re going to be happy about your work again! This has happened before, you just need to endure it and keep a positive stance.

Keep a positive mind and don't stop drawing to fight back imposter syndrome as an artist!

As I said, take a break if needed. If an artwork isn’t going as you hoped, stop it for now. Draw something for yourself. Something that you like or that you’re already so used to drawing, you know it will come out great.

Come back to the drawing you’re working on the next day, or even better, scratch that one and restart it anew.

Sometimes it’s all we need. I remember doing some drawings, finishing them, and feeling they were not good enough.

I would even lose sleep over this! So, I would keep it, but I would try again and with a positive mind do a new drawing. Usually, that second version was better.

First, because I already practiced it. And secondly, I had a fresh mind to do it. This time I was determined to like the process and the finished product, so I allowed myself to have fun with it.

As opposed to forcing the artwork and expecting perfection when my mind and spirit weren’t really there.

What’s important is to keep going and practicing. Each person has a different style and process. They are valid as long as it makes you happy and you learn with your process!

Related Questions

How common is imposter syndrome? Also known as “failed artist syndrome”, this syndrome is very common.. It is estimated that nearly 70% of individuals will experience it at least once in their life! That’s a lot of people, and they often won’t even understand what’s happening. This is why it’s so important to be more open about mental health and to have someone to talk to!

Is imposter syndrome in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM)? No. The imposter syndrome is not considered a psychiatric disorder. Although it can lead to anxiety or depression or even be a side effect of these. If you feel down constantly, seek professional help if needed!

Remember, (almost) anyone can be an Artist, so do your best to break out of impostor syndrome and get back into drawing.

How To Deal With Imposter Syndrome as an Artist!
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Patricia Caldeira is the main writer here at Don Corgi. She's an art teacher with over 20.000 happy students across many platforms and courses!

Enjoy your stay and as always:
Keep on drawing!