Last week a friend got in touch asking if I had any tips for creative confidence as they were struggling with self-doubt. This friend is an incredibly well-versed designer with years of experience under their belt and a beautiful portfolio.

The following day I received two emails from ex-students struggling with confidence. I pondered if maybe there was a link between Covid 19 isolation and creative confidence.

I considered my own practice and where my creative confidence was at. In his initial message, my friend mentioned that I always "seem so confident, what's your secret". At first, I took some pride in this before very quickly realising this was completely false (I and every other creative in the world has self-doubt, I was probably just not telling anybody about it).

So with the hope of helping other people who don't tell anybody about their creative self-loathing, here are the tips that I gave (and that I remind myself of regularly).

Comparison is a killer

Social media has a wonderful habit of delivering us a daily stream of talent that can very easily make us all feel inadequate. What I find really interesting is that we never stop to question whether @Jakfnki6666 with his 47K followers is actually happy.

Yes, he may have 47K followers but is he REALLY happy? My guess is no (Sorry Jakf). When I imagine @Jakfnki6666, he's frantically scrolling away in the night checking to see if he's lost any followers. My point here is that when we compare our work with others we are very selective of which bits we compare. We are taking one small situation out of a much larger context. It's an unfair comparison. Apples with Pears. Stop looking at other people's work so much. Enjoy yours.

Lose your 'self'

Creative self-loathing can only happen if you're focusing on your 'self'. Try to find another motive. Rather than working on a project so it can go in YOUR portfolio and so YOU can make money, how about this. Work on it so it can make the client or their customers happy. Alternatively, if you're doing self-initiated work, maybe your motivation is to find a job to pay the landlord. To feed the family. Or dog or whatever, just not YOU. Shifting the focus of your motivation to others is a huge help.

Separate doing from sharing

The ancient aboriginal people of Australia made cave paintings over the top of their old work. It wasn't about the end product, it was about the satisfaction that they got from the act of doing, the end result wasn't seen as important.

If you feel like you need to share your work to get clients or jobs fine, but try not to create with this in mind. I have done this in the past and it makes your work slowly deteriorate. Why is this? Because we are more bothered about impressing people than creating something new. Create. Then. Share.

We're all insignificant. Even @Jakfnki666

That piece of work you are slaving over is a collection of dots on a page made up of thousands of atoms. In a world of 7 billion people. That world is surrounded by millions of other planets. And stars. In a galaxy. That galaxy is the equivalent of 1 grain of sand on a beach when compared to the rest of the universe. Basically what I'm saying is, in the grand scheme of things, none of this really matters so just have some fun and enjoy the process.

I hope someone finds this helpful, and hopefully, I will take my own advice and not delete this in a confidence crisis in around 12 hours.

Posted by Andy Lester