New Orleans-based artist and general weirdo, specializing in pet portraits.
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Melissa Vandiver | Blog

A behind-the-scenes look at the budding career of a real weirdo.

Mantras: Maintaining Confidence in a Self-Hate Spiral

It's time to talk about talking to myself again. 

I suffer from Impostor Syndrome - the idea that one's success is not earned based on talent and hard work, but based on luck, and said person could be exposed as a fraud at any moment. So I have crept around like a cat burglar at every job waiting for the moment when they figure it out. No matter my training, experience, and performance; somehow I always felt like I was hiding.

Turns out, working for myself is no different.

I assume every client will be dissatisfied with their pet portrait. I assume other artists are viewing me with judgment and disdain. I don't have much real world information to base these assumptions off of, but there they are.

Mixed in with that crisis of confidence, you'll find my defense mechanisms. I become jealous of and judgmental of others' success. I devalue myself and my art in conversation, often saying, when someone asks what I do, "I'm attempting to be an artist." No, I am an artist. 

And when I get to this place, it gets dark, and it gets unproductive, and it interferes with me achieving my goals.

"Be Supportive"

You'll probably find this familiar: you get on your Facebook or Instagram and by the time you've scrolled through a bit, you feel worse. I've caught myself here, and in my case, it's largely judgment and jealousy. 

This one started as "stop being such a hater" but that was more letters than I felt like painting.

The truth is, surrounding myself with knowledgeable people who inspire me can only help me. The fact that I know so many successful artists is what inspired me to take this step. They've worked hard and developed their talent and it should make me feel excited about my own potential.

"Speak With Confidence"

I have a hard time catching myself with this one. As women, we are expected to inject extra humbleness into our language and downplay our accomplishments, ever since we are boyfriend-seeking teens. It's not limited to my interactions with men, but it is in there because I police my language like a woman.

When I say things like "I'm attempting to be an artist", what I am really saying is: "Don't be intimidated by my confidence or judgmental of my bold choices. I have not yet earned your respect and I know it." What is that going to accomplish for me? Making sure someone doesn't have too much respect for me?

"Follow Through"

When I feel threatened by the skill of another artist, it's easy to forget that practice is how they got there. Finish the piece. Just finish it. Maybe someone wants it. Maybe you can find the direction for the next one. But don't stall out.

Just f-ing paint!

If you can relate to this, these little nuggets are for sale in my shop, both the originals and prints.