Last Photography Month Article: Sharing Your Work

Many photographers, musicians, poets, authors, and artists tend to get very intimidated by revealing their work to an audience. Some so much so that they even hyperventilate, others simply tuck away their work into the dark corners of their closets. What is it about sharing your art with another person that draws these worries? Is it our innate desire to belong or fit in, or perhaps our belief that we are not good enough?

As a child, I remember running up to my parents, friends, and even strangers, to show them my drawings or musings. I wasn’t afraid of their judgement. I just wanted to share my ideas with another human being. It was so natural that it felt wonderful, often garnering smiles, laughter, and praise as a result. So what changed along the years that gave me such great anxiety to share my work in “the real world” after university? It was definitely this idea of not being ready. My thoughts of where I should be did not match to where I was at that moment. I believed that to exhibit art in a gallery you had to be a professional artist, but somehow, I did not find myself fitting into that category. You see, I was a university graduate, an artist, but somehow the professional part was missing. I had this particular idea of what a professional artist was like, of the types of studio spaces they worked in, and the amount of series of works he or she produced before exhibiting anything. That idea held me back for several months, although I continued to regularly produce paintings and drawings. I slowly gained confidence as I read about the entrepreneurial side of being an artist, and created my official website. I bought a book about art business, which began teaching me all of the elements that my university had missed – how to present your work professionally, what is expected of an artist from a gallery, the importance of creating and monitoring inventory and contracts (I’m still working on the last one) and so much more. When people asked what I did, I began discussing my artwork with them, getting more and more comfortable calling myself a professional. But it wasn’t until I was scrolling through Pinterest that I stumbled upon a motivating quote by Hugh Laurie, who said “it’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any”. I thought about that for a few moments, and decided right then and there that from that day forth I was a professional artist. I sealed the deal by sitting down and applying to several open calls for group art exhibitions in Toronto. Although it was nerve-wracking, as any new experience always is, the sheer excitement from my acceptance into one of the shows invalidated any previous doubt.

Since then, I have gained much momentum, accepting the fact that we must not be afraid of sharing our work with others. Yes, you will always be judged, and your photographs, poetry, music, performance, or art will not appeal to everyone. But I guarantee you that there will be someone who will be amazed by what you do, and it will speak to them. Over time, you will find an audience that understands your work, appreciating the special way in which you see the world. So whether it is showing your mom, or applying to an open call for submissions, I urge you to share your talents. The world could certainly use some intelligent, creative, and unique viewpoints. And know that what you do does not define you; it is simply a moment in your life, an idea, and your personal way of expressing it. You will grow, change, and create so much more. So don’t get too hung up on one thing. Our minds tend to stress about what we focus on, but only you see the things you see. Where you may see a mistake, someone may see beautiful originality.

I hope that this has given you more confidence to get your work out there. Junto Magazine is always looking to share your beautiful talents with the world, so keep your eyes peeled for our next open call for submissions. Until then, keep creating, challenging yourself, and inspiring others.

You are ready, now let’s go!

-Kat (art editor at Junto Magazine)