Struggle to call yourself an artist?

This post is all about the ‘I am an Artist’ challenge. Although the live session has now passed, you can still take the challenge in your own time. Click here to do that. 


Back in 2013, I had a conversation that, little did I know at the time, was going to change the course of my life, and it mostly involved me saying ‘no way’. 😆

In conversation with a mentor, the suggestion came up that I could start creating online courses for artists.

Up to that point, I had spent several years rediscovering my own artist self, and had made significant strides forward in remembering myself that way.

I’d been ill for a long time, and had finally been coming out of that and into a self I previously had both known and not known.

Known, because I was always an artist in a way. Always making things, always painting and drawing, always taking art when it was an option, at school and beyond.

Not known, because I’d never really thought about myself as an artist beyond the confines of my own skin. Of course I wanted to make stuff, but the sharing of it with the world outside my home was new.

And so was the possibility of passing on what I’d learned as a teacher.

In fact I laughed in the face of that suggestion, and basically said no.🙅‍♀️


Because of All The Reasons.

Here are some of them:

• I didn’t know enough.
• I didn’t have a degree.
• I wasn’t qualified in any way to teach adults. {A Montessori qualification wasn’t going to cut it.😉}
• There were tons of teachers out there already doing it better than me.
• I don’t understand/have no interest in colour theory. 😆
• What on earth would I teach?
• Who would even want that?
• I was scared of a negative response.
• I didn’t know where to begin with the technology and how teaching online worked.

It’s not that my ‘reasons’ didn’t have some truth to them.

But really, it was all brain chatter, putting up imaginary walls and trying to keep me safe from doing something different and new and scary.

The truth of it was, I didn’t see myself that way.

Think about that for a second.

If you don’t see yourself as something – especially if you actively see yourself as not that – it’s very hard to be it.

It’s always going to feel like you’re pretending – fake it till you make it doesn’t work for all of us.

And that’s going to create a crack for the imposter syndrome demon to squeeze in and start telling you how you’re a fraud, that people will find out you don’t really know what you’re doing, and you’re being arrogant and presumptuous to think you can do this thing, whatever it is.

There’s a gap between seeing and being, and it’s really bloody uncomfortable.

Obviously, you know how that story unfolded.

In the nine years since that fateful day of me saying a flat out no to becoming an art teacher of any kind, I’ve created around twenty courses, written around 1000 {!} blog posts {both my own and elsewhere online}, and hundreds of Artnotes. And I now run an online membership for artists, the Happy Artist Studio.

And how did that happen, when I was so convinced I couldn’t do it, or be it?

I got curious.

Honestly, that’s what closed the gap between seeing and being.

{And even more honestly, it never fully closed it. And that’s ok.}

When ideas find me, I find it very hard to put them down, even the more challenging ones. Or maybe it’s more that they won’t put me down.

Once my mentor had planted that seed of ‘you could do this’, it was just there, and I could pretend it wasn’t, but I knew I was lying to myself.

So I let my natural curiosity {one of our many gifts as artists!} lead me.

I said, ok, if I was going to do this, what could it look like?

And it started unfolding from there.

I think less than ten people took my first course, Creative Spark, but it impacted them {and me} significantly, in ways I didn’t anticipate or dare hope for.

So I kept going, and now here we are.

{I’m not saying it was easy. I’m saying it happened because I tried it, and then kept going.}

People now see me as a teacher, and I describe myself that way, so people know what I do, but between you and me, I still feel that gap.

I don’t think I can really say I’m not a teacher, even though that’s what my brain wants me to think.

But I also don’t really ‘own’ it fully for myself, I know I don’t. I feel pretty uncomfortable thinking about it too much. So I get that claiming our ‘titles’ can feel like a challenge.

And I’m really glad I haven’t let that stop me.

So why am I telling you all this?

Because if you substitute the word ‘teacher’ throughout this email for the word ‘artist’, you’ll be describing a situation an unbelievable amount of artists experience.

I had no idea how pervasive it is till I started teaching and hanging out with – and talking with – more artists.

It’s like a silent epidemic.

It’s holding so many artists back, and it turns out I feel very strongly called to do something about it.

{And like many callings, I kind of don’t want to. Lol. I don’t feel ‘qualified’. 😆}

But since it won’t go away, and since the world needs more artists and humans who feel good about standing in what they truly know they are, I’ve devised a cunning plan.

*rubs hands together with devilish look*

That plan is:

The ‘I am an Artist’ Challenge.

Now, I’m very aware that it’s not always possible to undo decades of particular experiences and habitual thought patterns, not to mention centuries of cultural conditioning, in one week.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t at least start the process! And internal shifts can happen in a moment.

I also think it can be easier than our brains want us to believe.

Especially when we approach it from a position of curiosity and experimentation.

Here’s how the challenge works:

  • {It runs from 3rd – 10th October 2022}
  • 7 days of daily email prompts {more like little lessons really}, which include text, video, and a task
  • We have a hashtag if you’d like to share your progress on Instagram {the prompts are email only}
  • If you’re a Happy Artist Studio member, you can do the challenge inside our private community!
  • There will be links to all the email content, whenever you sign up {although previous emails won’t be resent}
  • It’s free!

So, will you be joining us? I’d love to support you if you struggle to call yourself an artist and could use some help to change that. 😊


Join the challenge! Click here to sign up for the email prompts.