No Art For You! Set Your Artistic Limits
As you get better in whatever art form you choose, you’ll probably run into people who will want you to create things for them. If you want to, that’s fine. You’ll probably also run into people who think that because you can do one art form, you must be an expert in all art forms.
Just because you can draw, paint, sculpt, create, doesn’t mean you can do everything. Or even that you want to do everything.
Do you already know people who claim to not have a creative bone in their body? And they automatically think that just because you do those “artistic” things, you can do anything? Not only that, you’ll jump at the chance?
Or have you ever had that experience where you show your artwork to someone and they ask you do something that isn’t anywhere close to the type of stuff you just showed them?
For example, maybe you love doing landscapes. Nature is your friend! The only thing that comes off your hand is grass, trees, sea and sky. But maybe your next door neighbor sees your creations and says, “Wow, that’s great. Will you do a portrait of my dog?”
How about if you are a still life oil painting fanatic? A friend of the family checks it out and asks, “You’re really talented! Can you do Winnie the Pooh for my daughter?”
Or maybe you do like to do sculptures of whimsical, fantasy creatures. You might even spend hours at the zoo perfecting your particular style of art. And yet a coworker looks at it and says, “Wonderful! Can you design a logo for me? It’s for my side business on foot health.”
Now, it’s totally possible that just because you do one thing, it doesn’t mean you can’t do another. Most artists I’ve known can do many different things. But there is a reason why you chose the thing that you do most, right? It’s where your joy is. It’s where your happiness is. Even if you show people nothing but that one thing that you do, there is still one person out there who (unintentionally) ignores all of that and assumes that you can do everything. And also, that you’re completely willing to.
So, just tell people that you have your limits, right?
Maybe you tried that before and you got a bit of huffiness in return.
“What do you mean, you can’t do that? It’s just lines rearranged in a different shape, isn’t it?”
“You don’t want to? Well, I thought you’d leap at the chance of maybe making some money for a change…”
If you have a website or any kind of online presence, then you can probably stop a lot of this before it even occurs. In fact, as of writing this post, I am making a page that will outline exactly where I stand on making art for others. Or in other words, if I do commissions or not. If you have a page like this, all you have to do is direct them to it. They’ll either like it or they won’t. But since you won’t know most of them, it’s not that big a deal. Most people online will just read it and accept it. They won’t usually take the time to send you an irate email. They’ll just go to another artist. Or if it wasn’t that important to them to begin with, they’ll just forget about it until another artist comes in their line of view.
Family, friends and neighbors are different. The ones closest to you may know and understand. Or it may be the complete opposite. Some think that because they are closest to you, they have the right to bluntly ask or suggest or just plain order you around. Directing them to a page on your website may only result in some eye rolling.
Here is where you simply have to stick to your own personal rules for your artwork. If it doesn’t feel right, Tell. Them. NO. It’s simple advice but can be harder than it sounds, especially if you are prone to being a people pleaser. If art is there to provide you a sense of calm, to unwind you from the day, and just good old fashioned joy and happiness, then don’t accept work you don’t want to do. It will kill your creativity. The time you set aside for just YOU will be ruined. Don’t think, “Well, it’s just this one time.” Because it’s not. That “one time” will lead to more. Because now you’ve told everyone with that one action that you will do anything they want. And then you’ll have to hear, “But you did it for them.”
If you are inspired by the project, even if it’s something outside of what you normally do, and you actually want to do it, then that’s different. Go ahead and create!
Because as usual, my motto is, “follow your art’s delight.”