Is Your Fear of Failure Killing Your Creativity?
Which is the greater travesty, trying something and failing at it or having such a fear of failure that you never try anything new?
The reality is, the fear of failure is the ultimate killer of creativity and innovation, especially for artists. Conversely, trying something and failing is how we learn new skills or approaches to something unfamiliar. There are countless examples of how the failures of others gave birth to some of our greatest achievements, and there may be no bigger example of this than in the creative world.
Leonardo da Vinci is regarded as one of the most acclaimed artists of the Renaissance Era, but what most people don’t know is that the reason so few of his paintings exist today is due in part to his frequent disastrous experimentation with new techniques. Nonetheless, these constant failures didn’t stop him from becoming one of the most recognized names in art and innovation.
Learning How to Fail in a Positive Way
Let’s be real, no one likes to fail, nor does anyone set out to do something with the intent of it being a complete catastrophe. If so, they why would we waste the time and resources knowing it will fail? But what if every time you set out to do something new, something challenging, you do so not with the mindset of it being a success or a failure, but instead with the intent of gaining new knowledge and skills?
As an artist, the fear of rejection is one of our greatest fears. Rejection can come in many ways, maybe you are trying to get into a new gallery and the gallery manager or owner declines your application, or perhaps your new artwork doesn’t receive the ‘Wow!’ reaction you thought it would. Both can seem like very personal attacks or failures. But the truth is, they are opportunities to grow and develop.
In the case of the gallery rejection, rather than just packing up your portfolio and walking out with your head hung low, ask the gallery manager why your artwork isn’t necessarily a good fit for them, and if they have any recommendations on a gallery where it might work. Maybe they will, or maybe they won’t but unless you ask, you will never know. Either way, you have empowered yourself with the confidence to turn your fear into opportunity.
If you have a fear of failing at something (which we all do from time to time), simply reading this article is not going to magically change that fear into something positive when you try something new. But hopefully it can show you that it is possible to learn to accept failure as an opportunity to grow and not hold you back as an artist.