As artists, we love knowing that our work is appreciated by other people—whether that comes to us via exhibits, sales, awards, positive comments on social media, or simply from friends and family who respond to what we do. And even though many artists would say that recognition and validation are secondary to making the work, it can be still hard to stay motivated without some positive input. Today we’ll talk about the desire for validation alongside the pure need to create and how they can complement each other in our art practices.
Many artists would make their work even in complete isolation because creating is a compulsion, a psychological need. Most of us acknowledge that pure inner drive that helps us weather times when we are not getting attention or recognition—the times in between exhibits, sales, gallery contacts, and other opportunities. That drive is linked to a feeling of validation that comes from our own inner confidence and belief in ourselves, and that is the basis from which we can seek and emotionally accept outside validation.
But now, during the pandemic, many of the ways we are validated by the outside world are limited. We experience this as a loss and this loss creates anxiety about when the recognition will return. Art is communication and we long for outside validation to assure us our work is still important to others. And too, with a lack of sales, economic anxiety is compounded by the loss of validation we feel when someone buys our work.
The more personal forms of recognition are still available though. Our friends, family, and even social media contacts are sources of support that we can cultivate and appreciate now more than ever. Reaching out to other artists and taking other steps to nurture our work can be very valuable in getting us through these difficult times.
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