39 – Is Fear Stopping You In Your Tracks?

Nikki and Laura share some fears they both have in relation to their creative careers… and not just Nikki’s fear of running out of bourbon! Listen to 6 fears that can stop you in your tracks and some tips for getting past them.

Do you relate to any of these? Share your experience with us in the Startist Society Facebook group!

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Topics discussed

  • What if I’m not good enough?
  • What if I have nothing original to say?
  • I’m afraid someone will steal my work.
  • I’m afraid to put myself out there and really be seen.
  • Fear of success.
  • Fear of the unknown.

Nikki

0:00
Hey, Laura, what are you really afraid of?

Laura

0:03
So many things?

Nikki

0:07
Like the monster under your bed?

Laura

0:09
I mean, who likes the boogie man?

Nikki

0:10
Well, I must, because I’m sure I’ve dated him.

Laura

0:14
You probably have. Okay, but seriously, I have a lot of fears that run through my head and that little chattering voice likes to do overtime.

Nikki

0:23
Maybe you should see a doctor about that voice.

Laura

0:26
Maybe I should.

Nikki

0:28
Alright, apparently, I’m afraid of taking this topic too seriously.

Laura

0:31

Nikki, maybe you’re just scared of running out of bourbon.

Nikki

0:34
Oh my god, that one is way too terrifying to even consider.

Laura

0:38
Well, if you haven’t guessed it, today’s topic is all about fear and what stops us in our tracks. So let’s dive in.

Laura

0:50
Hi, this is Laura Lee Griffin.

Nikki

0:52
And this is Nikki May with the Startist Society, inspiring you to stop getting your own way and start building an art biz and life that you love.

Laura

1:01
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

1:16
Follow along with us on our creative business journey as we encourage you on yours.

Nikki

1:25
Alright, so everyone deals with fear in their lives. But I feel like artists and creative business owners might have a higher than average number of fears. What do you think, Laura?

Laura

1:34
It’s entirely possible. Many of us tend to be empaths and really feel things pretty deeply. And we can get really self-critical too.

Nikki

1:44
Oh, no kidding. So let’s talk about some of the specific fears we have as artists. And so we aren’t here all night, let’s limit it to six.

Laura

1:53
Six thousand?

Nikki

1:55
No, Laura, six.

Laura

1:58
Okay. Let me try not to overthink this. Okay, fear number one. Fear number one is the fear of failure. What if I’m not good enough and never make it? What if I try my hardest, and it just looks like a two-year-old’s work? And, and everyone thinks that I’m crazy for calling myself an artist?

Nikki

2:20
Well, we’ve already established that you’re crazy. You just admitted to hearing voices. But it’s not because you call yourself an artist. Anyone who has that fear should go back and listen to Episode 31, Do You Consider Yourself an Artist, and that should help alleviate those fears a bit.

Laura

2:36
Good idea. You know, we also have to remember that it’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy. When we spend our time worrying about whether or not we’re good enough instead of approaching our art from a place of play or curiosity, we kind of shoot ourselves in the foot.

Nikki

2:54
And the only way to actually get better is to make art, not just think about it not being good enough.

Laura

2:59
Mm hmm. True.

Nikki

3:01
So fear number two is, What if I have nothing original to say? I mean, are there even any new ideas in the world? Hasn’t everything been done before?

Laura

3:11
Well, it’s kinda true. There really aren’t that many completely original ideas, there’s just your specific take on it, right. So because it’s your hand, your brain, your voice being expressed, it becomes uniquely you. I think being open to experimenting with an idea that has already been done before could still end up with super cool results. Like let’s take surface design, for example. Flowers are always one of the number one sellers by companies for their products. But flowers have definitely been done before.

Nikki

3:48
But everyone still has their own way of drawing or painting them, right. I mean, I’ve been drawing mostly flowers for two or three years now. But I like to think that my approach and style is pretty unique, especially the way I’m combining them with insects.

Nikki

4:02
It is unique.

Nikki

4:04
Thank you.

Laura

4:04
And I think that if you take all of your influences and interests and you, you sort of throw them in a bag together and mix them up, rather than just mimicking one piece of art or one particular influence, you’ll end up with something that’s new and fresh.

Nikki

4:21
And this example is about surface design and illustration specifically, but if you apply it to fine art, or, or something more abstract, then you’re even more likely to have a unique approach, because it may be less literal and more conceptual.

Laura

4:37
That actually reminds me of the intuitive painting approach that we discussed in Episode 34 with Flora Bowley. And when you really get in touch with the marks, the colors, the textures that bring you joy, a unique expression will emerge. So moving on, fear number three is, I’m afraid someone else is going to steal my work. So I don’t want to put it out there.

Nikki

5:03
And the truth is they might, right? But letting that fear stop you from putting it out there isn’t going to get you very far in your art career. What’s the point of having your own unique vision and voice if it’s hiding in your studio?

Laura

5:18
Right? Well, every day, we hear stories from artists about their work getting stolen from Instagram, or Pinterest, and being put on products without their permission. But there are also so many stories of artists that were discovered by sharing their work on social media and who received amazing licensing deals from them. Or they sold entire collections of their fine art that way. So if you don’t put yourself out there, how do you expect people to find you?

Nikki

5:48
Exactly. And this leads to fear number four, which is being afraid to put yourself out there and really be seen, you know, be seen as your true self. David Bayles expressed what this feels like to me in his book, Art and Fear. When he said, consider that if artist equals self, then when inevitably, you make flawed art, you’re a flawed person. And when, worse yet, you make no art, you’re no person at all.

Laura

6:20
Man, that’s a little depressing and dramatic. But I guess it can be true. So yeah, when we equate ourselves to that thing. And I think what we have to get in touch with is how do we let our freak flags fly? Like when it comes to social media, there are so many very well-curated, beautiful feeds with large followings that look, literally picture perfect. I mean, but I think we can all agree that although those are beautiful to look at, we want connection with others. And those that post their authentic real selves, in both their captions and in their images tend to be people we really connect with and that we admire. So why don’t we allow ourselves to do that, and be more vulnerable?

Nikki

7:09
Totally. So, for me, even before social media, I had some fears around showing… I mean, before social media even existed, I had fears around showing too much of who I am, like letting people see inside. And not just by what I post, but what kind of art I put out there and what I put of myself into my art.

Laura

7:31
Like drawing on dead animals.

Nikki

7:34
Well, yeah, I mean… anyway.

Laura

7:43
Well, but you beautifully draw on dead animals, that’s the thing.

Nikki

7:46
Thank you, thank you.

Laura

7:47
And it can be scary to be that vulnerable. We spend a lot of time building walls around ourselves in our lives. And it can be, you know, it can feel really personal if you share a deep part of yourself in a painting or an illustration or a piece of art and it gets torn down by some random troll…

Nikki

8:04
Or your art school professor who slaps fluorescent pink paint on top of your painting, right? But I’ve noticed that as I’ve gotten older, those fears just really don’t seem to matter as much.

Laura

8:17
Yeah, we start realizing we have a limited amount of time left on this planet. And do we really want to waste time being concerned with what other people think all the time? I mean, it really isn’t worth it. I also think that letting your freak flag fly lets you attract the type of customers that gets you. You know, they see a bit of their own freak in you and you’re giving them permission to join along. So those that love art on bones and like dead things like that is awesome, Nikki, right?

Nikki

8:50
Those are my people.

Laura

8:51
Those are your peeps. And for me it might be people who love very whimsical, colorful things right? So they see a bit of their own freak in you, you’re giving them that permission to join along and I think somebody who does this really really well is Tyler Thrasher.

Nikki

9:07
Oh, I see my freak in him… that sounds dirty!

Laura

9:14
So Tyler mixes his love of plants and science, insects, crystals, art and so much more into his own authentic crazy feed and it’s totally awesome.

Nikki

9:26
And if you haven’t listened to last week’s interview with Tyler, what the hell is wrong with you? Go back to Episode 38 and give that a listen.

Laura

9:34
He’s amazing. Okay, so moving on. Fear number five is sort of the opposite of fear number one, and it’s the fear of success. So Marianne Williamson said, Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

Nikki

9:58
I’ve always kind of had a hard time understanding, this one, I mean, how can you be afraid of success? What…what does that really mean?

Laura

10:05
Okay, well, I feel like the fear of success is the fear of others, other people’s expectations of me if something goes really well. So I immediately go to this place of am I stuck doing this thing forever? Can I change my mind later if I decide I don’t want to make a certain kind of art or don’t want to teach classes on a certain topic? Am I basically going to disappoint my followers and my students if I make that change?

Nikki

10:33
Okay, that makes sense. And along those lines, for me, it’s kind of also the opposite of what if I never have another idea, because what if I have too many ideas, but I feel like I’m stuck doing this one thing because it’s what I’m known for. And I never get to follow all my other ideas.

Laura

10:50
Yeah. But there are plenty of folks out there who have made successful transitions into different creative fields without getting stuck.

Nikki

10:59
Yeah.

Laura

11:00
Now, did you know that actor Pierce Brosnan is actually an accomplished painter? What? Yes, Remington Steele, who I had a huge crush on, long before the Bond years…

Nikki

11:12
Because you’re old.

Laura

11:14
Because I’m old, is starting to show his work in galleries.

Nikki

11:18
I had no idea. But also Flora Bowley mentioned in our interview with her that she had some concerns along those lines, right, with her new focus on the Art of Aliveness, which doesn’t necessarily even require picking up a paintbrush, that her audience might not get the transition and follow along with her.

Laura

11:38
Okay, I can understand that concern. But anyone who knows Flora and has followed her for years like I have, knows that this is just a natural progression of her work, and we’re all along for that ride. We aren’t going to stop following her because what she will be teaching won’t necessarily involve painting on large canvases. We want to grow and learn with her and bring more aliveness into our days and into our artwork. So I guess why don’t we give ourselves the same grace that we give others.

Nikki

12:08
And our true fans or appreciators will totally follow us and cheer us on in our new endeavors, right?

Laura

12:16
Yeah, you’re right. That brings us to fear number six, which is the fear of the unknown.

Nikki

12:21
Dunh, dunh, dunh…

Laura

12:22
Dunh, dunh, dunh…

Nikki

12:25
We’re dorks.

Laura

12:26
We’re dorks. This one is big for me because I’m both a planner, and I’m someone who is nervous about making a wrong decision. So it’s tough to do that when I don’t know how things will pan out.

Nikki

12:38
So you just need to hang out with me more because I love change. And I don’t feel like I need to know how things are going to turn out. Some might call that reckless. I mean, many do, but I like to just wing it.

Laura

12:52
You do like to wing it. This is why we make good co-hosts on a podcast Nikki.

Nikki

12:56
Or maybe you just need to drink more bourbon.

Laura

12:58
Or maybe you should drink less.

Nikki

13:01
Bite your tongue!

Nikki

13:03
Alright, Laura, what are our takeaways from this episode?

Laura

13:07
Well, I think there’s honestly just one. We all have fears, even the people that you admire. But the important thing is to feel the fear and do it anyway. Don’t let those fears keep you stuck. Just put one foot in front of the other. That’s how Nikki and I started this podcast.

Nikki

13:25
Didn’t we start it over margaritas?

Laura

13:27
No, Nikki, it was brunch. But I think there were margaritas involved that weekend.

Nikki

13:33
Oh, there definitely were. All right, now it’s your turn. Do you have any fears that keep you stuck in your tracks? Share them with us in the Startist Society Facebook group or on Instagram @startistsociety, and let’s help each other move past them.

Laura

13:47
For today’s Startist Society show notes go to startistsociety.com/fear.

Nikki

13:54
And if you’ve enjoyed this episode, we’d love for you to leave us a five-star rating and review.

Laura

13:59
Speaking of reviews, we’d like to give a shout-out to Lisa on Apple Podcasts who said, “If you’re 50 years old or 20 something, these girls are relatable. Nikki and Laura share their fears and desires as artists with humor and easy-to-follow actions. Their interviews are spot-on for those of us who are tired of being in our heads and ready to put one foot in front of the other. I feel like I have a couple of new art friends who I meet with every Wednesday to hold me accountable to that week’s action steps.

Nikki

14:30
Thanks, Lisa for sharing that feedback. We love supporting the artist community and hearing directly from you. Your reviews help us reach more Startists like you and keep us completely inspired to create more episodes.

Laura

14:43
That’s a wrap. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.

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