37 – Debunking Our Excuses

Laura and Nikki talk about the limiting beliefs that can have a significant impact on the way we live our lives and can determine what’s actually possible for us in our lives and art careers. If you spend all of your time worrying about all the things you don’t have yet, what you can’t do yet, or how you compare to other artists (and similar thoughts of a fixed mindset), it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. But if you approach things from a growth mindset, the world begins opening up and delivering some pretty incredible things.

In today’s episode, we present 10 excuses that artists often use and give you ideas about how to turn them around and take away their power to limit your growth!

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Topics discussed

  1. I don’t have time to create
  2. I don’t have any good ideas
  3. I have too many ideas and can’t pick one to focus on
  4. I didn’t go to art school (see episode 10)
  5. I don’t know how to draw
  6. I don’t have space to make art
  7. I can’t afford good art supplies (see episode 9)
  8. I’m not good enough/I’ll never make any money
  9. I’m waiting for inspiration (see episode 14
  10. There are so many artists that are better than me (see episode 6)

Laura

0:04
Hi, this is Laura Lee Griffin.

Nikki

0:06
And this is Nikki May with Startist Society, inspiring you to stop getting your own way and start building an art biz and life that you love.

Laura

0:15
We are artists who believe strongly in the power of community, accountability, following your intuition, taking small actionable steps and breaking down the barriers of fear and procrastination that keep you stuck.

Nikki

0:30
Follow along with us on our creative business journey as we encourage you on yours.

Laura

0:36
Nikki, what are we talking about today?

Nikki

0:39
Well, Laura, in Episode 35 we talked about whether you think you’re too young or too old to be a successful artist or creative entrepreneur. So I think you could actually just cut that phrase down to am I too… fill in the blank, or the inverse, am I not blank enough to… These are limiting beliefs that can have a significant impact on the way we live our lives, and can determine what’s actually possible for us.

Laura

1:10
I believe personally, that what you focus on and give your attention to expands, and it can become your reality. So if you spend all of your time thinking or worrying about all the things you don’t have yet, what you can’t do yet, how you compare to other artists and similar thoughts of a fixed mindset, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. But if you approach things from a growth mindset, the world begins opening up and delivering some pretty incredible things. Some people see this as woo-woo law of attraction, but it’s not such a far-fetched idea. I’ve seen it over and over again in my own life in so many different ways. And I find when I look at what’s possible, and take some small actions, amazing things begin to happen. Heck, I even danced with Bono on stage at a U2 concert using this mindset thing. But that’s a story for another day.

Nikki

2:09
That’s a bit woo-woo for me, but I’m working on it. Okay, so we quoted Julia Cameron in Episode 35. But she also has this to say, “And the truth is that anyone can tell themselves they’re to something to be creative, regardless of age… too young to have enough experience on which to draw, too busy to have time for creating, or to stressed to have the time to pay attention to the subtle inner voice that might whisper an authentic desire. Every person is creative; every person has the power to make small, authentic changes that will over time adjust the trajectory of their lives. In 30 years of teaching, I have never met an exception.”

Laura

2:54
I love that. And I think it’s so true. It’s these micro movements and these small actions that we take, and we start ignoring that little voice on our shoulder that tells us these things, these these “too” statements. too young, too old, too whatever. So let’s talk about some common excuses that we hear a lot, often coming out of our own mouth.

Nikki

3:20
So the first one that I’m trying really hard to break myself of is “I don’t have time to create.” The truth is, you don’t necessarily need a lot of time. 10 minutes here and there throughout your day or your week can really add up to quite a lot of time.

Laura

3:37
Many novels have been written 15 minutes at a time or while a child naps; it can definitely add up.

Nikki

3:43
Right. And the other thing to think about is that we don’t find time, we make time for the things that are really important to us.

Laura

3:51
I have to remind myself of that all the freakin’ time.

Nikki

3:53
Oh, yeah, me too.

Laura

3:56
Okay, excuse number two is that I just don’t have any good ideas.

Nikki

4:01
Alright, this one isn’t a great excuse for several reasons. First, no idea is truly original. But also nobody has expressed it exactly the same way that you can. You are a unique combination of everything you’ve experienced, everything you think and feel. And even if you’re drawing or painting the exact subject that thousands of other people have painted, nobody’s going to depict it the same way that you do.

Laura

4:28
Yes, that’s so true. We’re all our own unique snowflakes. Okay, excuse number three is I have too many ideas, and I can’t pick one to focus on.

Nikki

4:43
Oh god, this is so true.

Laura

4:45
This is one of my personal excuses. I let that analysis paralysis get to me sometimes. And it just might have something to do with the amount of art supplies that I own too.

Nikki

4:56
No.

Laura

4:59
But what if you just decided to pick one project that piques your curiosity right now. And that could push your business or your artwork forward and just go with it. Knowing that it’s entirely okay to change your mind later; making a commitment to something now doesn’t have to mean that it’s unchangeable forever.

Nikki

5:19
Absolutely, the trick is to just start doing something. If you’re overwhelmed by all of the options, don’t just sit there staring at your list forever, because then nothing will happen. Just pick one, it doesn’t matter which one just, make some progress on something.

Laura

5:36
I actually love this analogy that I heard once and I can’t remember who told this to me, but it was about having a stovetop with four burners. And you might have little projects on each burner, but there’s always one on the front burner, and you can change them out later. But you can have that one thing to focus on.

Nikki

5:52
Oh my god, the idea of cooking on all four burners at one time really stresses me out. I’m one of those people that’s like, what can I do in one pot? Alright, what’s next?

Laura

6:08
Excuse number four that comes up is, “I didn’t go to art school.” Now we had an entire episode on this topic alone, so go listen to Episode 10 and you’ll hear our thoughts on that.

Nikki

6:21
And if you didn’t go to art school, think about this list of names that you can join. Jean Michel Basquiat, Henri Rousseau, Vincent van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, Grandma Moses. I mean, you’re in really pretty freakin’ good company.

Laura

6:37
Great company. Oh, my goodness, awesome company. So excuse number five is I don’t know how to draw.

Nikki

6:46
Oh, yeah. And although drawing is my main thing, you don’t necessarily have to be able to draw to make great art. Look at abstract painting, collage, sculpture, all kinds of things. But also drawing is a skill that can be learned, you’re not born knowing how to draw, right? Just start simply, take some classes, and you can learn how to draw.

Laura

7:11
Well, I can admit that I was a stick figure girl who learned how to draw. And one of the books that I started with was Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, which is such a great book to learn how to actually see things versus what you think you see. So you’ll be drawing and improving your skills in no time. I highly recommend it.

Nikki

7:31
Awesome. So excuse number six is thinking that you don’t have space to make art. But really, you don’t need a lot of space. These days, my studio is such a wreck that even though I have nearly 600 square feet of space, I can’t face the mess. But I’m not letting that stop me. I draw mostly on my iPad these days, and even though I have the largest version that they make, I find that I don’t even need that much space. I pretty much draw in three square inches of it. And when I’m not working on the iPad, I’m drawing in a pocket size Moleskine sketchbook which is only three and a half by five and a half inches.

Laura

8:09
Okay Nikki, I have to say if they made an even bigger iPad than the 12.9 inch, I would probably buy it.

Nikki

8:16
Well knowing myself I would too, but I would still use the same three inches of it.

Laura

8:23
Well, I can say that I live in a condo with a dedicated area for my art downstairs. But more often than not, I end up creating on my coffee table in front of the TV. So it’s not fancy. And I’m creating in like probably a two foot square area, sometimes less.

Nikki

8:41
With an ancient dog on your lap.

Laura

8:43
Hey, it’s not ancient, Gus is just mature.

Nikki

8:46
Oh yeah, mature like I’m mature. Okay, excuse

Laura

8:52
Okay, excuse number seven is that many artists think I can’t afford good art supplies.

Nikki

8:59
Well, the truth is, you don’t need great art supplies to make great art. Pick up a pencil or a ballpoint pen even and a cheap piece of paper. In my sketchbooks, I’m just using a Uniball Signo pen, which you can buy a pack of 10 of them for $15.

Laura

9:16
Yeah, that’s amazing. I’ve seen some really cool portraits and artwork done with those little blue ballpoint pens as well that cost like 50 cents or something. It’s pretty amazing. And if you go back and listen to episode 9, though we discussed our favorite art supplies in that episode, we also talk about how you should start right where you’re at. And I know some amazing lettering artists, for example, that create with Crayola markers. You can you can make beautiful art without spending tons of cash.

Nikki

9:46
For sure. So excuse number eight is all about fear. I’m not good enough, people will criticize me and I’m afraid I’ll never make any money.

Laura

9:56
And I’ll end up homeless and destitute.

Nikki

9:58
Or god forbid, have to move in with my parents.

Laura

10:03
I always think this more in my head than what actually happens in real life. So once my work is out there, many people will actually have a very positive reaction to it. And you have to know that art is subjective. Not everybody’s going to love your work. But there are those that need to see it and it’s worth being vulnerable and putting your work out there.

Nikki

10:25
Definitely.

Laura

10:26
And as for making money, think about what small steps can you take towards making your first dollar. Can you upload some art to a print on demand site? Can you sell a small piece of work on Instagram? Can you offer commissions to your local community. And once you get that ball rolling, you’ll realize what’s possible. You also don’t have to leave your day job just because you want to make money with your art. And I think that’s a fallacy that some people believe, you’re not really an artist until you’ve left your day job and you’re doing it full time, right. And there’s many successful artists that do both simultaneously until they’re ready to make a full time plunge. And the book Big Magic by Liz Gilbert, which I love, has some really great info on this topic.

Nikki

11:13
Or if the pressure of that is too much for you, don’t think about making it a career. You can enjoy making art as a hobby, even a passion, without putting the pressure on it to make money for you. Keep your day job and just make the art you want to make. I bet you’ll find that if you do this for a while and still share the work that you make, people want to pay you for some of it.

Laura

11:33
And honestly, I think a lot of people’s best work is when they don’t have that pressure. And they are creating things in their own unique voice and style because they just want it out in the world. And then it does end up being some of the best work for them financially, that people do want to pay them for, like you’re saying, because it is that expression of themselves.

Nikki

11:53
Totally agree.

Laura

11:54
Okay, onto our next one. Excuse number nine is… “I’m waiting for inspiration”. Now many great writers, musicians and artists set a timer for a certain amount of time every day. And they sit and write or sit and compose. And it could be, it could be garbage. It probably will be at the beginning. But it could be brilliant. And as long as you show up again and again and again, eventually something interesting begins to show up and you’ll be far better off than if you were just waiting for inspiration to strike.

Nikki

12:34
Absolutely. And our final excuse, number 10, is there are so many artists that are so much better than I am. And really, there will always be people who are better than you. But there will always be people who are not as good. Try comparing yourself instead to how you were last week, last month or last year. Are you better now? Are you making progress?

Laura

12:59
Amen and hallelujah. For today’s Startist Society show notes and links to resources, go to startis society.com/excuses.

Nikki

13:14
And if you have any other excuses you’d like us to help you debunk. Let us know in our Startist Society Facebook group, or on Instagram @startistsociety.

Laura

13:23
If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, follow Startist Society and leave us a five star rating and review. Reviews help us reach more Startists like you and keep us inspired to continue creating new episodes.

Nikki

13:37
Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.

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