Knowing how to overcome imposter syndrome as an artist (also known as fraud syndrome) is very important. Although it is a common occurrence in any field, for artists it’s a very familiar feeling.
You’re not alone in this!
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.
Table Of Contents
- 1 What Is Imposter Syndrome?
- 2 3 Ways To Overcome Imposter Syndrome As An Artist
- 3 Imposter Syndrome Examples
- 4 Comparing Yourself To Other Artists
- 5 Getting Rid Of Negative Thoughts
- 6 Related Questions
What Is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter Syndrome (also known as failed artist syndrome) is when a creative feels they are not good enough or feel inadequate in their art creation process. As an artist, you feel that you 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 doubt in your skills 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; some days, we’ll just wake up and feel like our art is terrible.
Unfortunately, this is part of the nature of creative work.
It is also common to see artists experience imposter syndrome when getting out of school and entering this new and frightening adult world.
From one moment to the next, we see people that are much more successful than us and that will get that success faster than others.
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!
3 Ways To Overcome 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 overcome imposter syndrome, here are some tips that you can follow.
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 beating artist 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.
Art is very subjective, so sharing your feelings with another artist can make you realise that the art you’re creating isn’t fake or bad looking.
Sharing your work and seeing different points of view lets you better understand what people like and don’t like about your art as well! And you need to build confidence and not get a hit on your self-esteem with the possible negative comments.
Remember: your art does not represent your worth.
They are separate things!
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 stopping and taking a step back is one of the best ways to let go of that fraudulence feeling. Just stop drawing for now.
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.
Maybe go and have a coffee with someone!
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.
You can even play around with some new drawing materials just for fun!
Sometimes all we need is a reset. Again, each person has their way of dealing with their anxieties (and social anxiety is very common when we’re talking about imposter syndrome in art).
It’s fine to stay in your comfort zone for a while, and it helps you recognize your strengths, giving you a nice boost of self-confidence.
I found out that sometimes the best to do is to not push your creative work.
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!
Let go of perfectionism
Many artists tend to be perfectionists, and that’s ok to a point! But it can become a weakness.
You want to create better artwork, professional looking artwork that stands out. But sometimes, you need to let go of that perfectionism and just draw for fun.
Create BAD sketches in a sketchbook or some loose pages. Don’t worry about the art business right now, and don’t add social media into the mix.
For now, just draw for yourself and try to get past imposter syndrome.
We have too many high expectations in our artwork. Creative work makes everyone want to try their best, even the most successful professional artists feel insecure sometimes.
Unfortunately, it’s all part of the process.
Not every piece needs to be perfect! Stop with the negativity and negative self-talk, and just have fun.
Imposter 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:
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!
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.
For this reason, I recommend you get a mentor that can give you constructive feedback.
That doesn’t mean it has to be positive feedback, it can be negative as well! Feedback from others will help you improve much quicker, making you a better artists or illustrator.
I recommend checking some online courses where you can get feedback, as I do in mine.
Often, we’re the ones putting obstacles and barriers on our way.
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.
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!
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.
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!