Hi Marta and the rest of this great neighbourhood
When I was first learning to make jewellery and got many compliments
from family and friends who suggested craft sales I was rather shy
about talking to groups. I was reasonably okay with one person as
long as they were regular folk and not the president of some big
company that made lots of money. Somehow I had programmed myself to
believe that they were better than me rather than just a little more
successful. I had also been raised that talking about oneself was
bragging. Part of it stemmed from trying to please my father and
thinking that he was disappointed in me until my mother explained
that my father was proud of me but did not know how to give positive
feedback only criticism.
When I was 21 - 22 years old I was asked to give presentations on
rocks & minerals to grade 4 students but was terrified of talking in
front of a group of people. A friend mentioned to me about the ‘Dale
Carnegie’ speaking program. I scraped the money together as I was
desperate to build confidence in myself. In that course I learned how
to look at criticism as a way to improve myself and not to take it
too personally. I also got positive feedback for speaking in public
as the whole course is built around giving only positive feedback. I
also met people in the class from all walks of life, even CEO’s of
big companies and found out that they were real people and some of
them had the same fears as I did. Wow, what an eye opener.
Now I can stand in front of any group of people and talk about
things that I know about. That is one of the tricks I learned, don’t
try to debate/talk about things you do not understand. I also
realized that we are all people and no one is better than the other
because of a position or job whether or not they clean toilets or
have earned a billion dollars.
As to portfolios, I later took some courses in Marketing and found
that to a point, your work speaks for itself. Remembering back to my
first markets I remember the compliments that I received, but never
got too big a head as someone would inevitably criticize my work as
well. Remember the old adage “you can not please everyone” is quite
true. And that applies to every one of us even the most talented. I
was also told that when I write up my CV, Artist Statement or Bios
that I should write them in the third person as if I was writing it
for someone else with only knowing the facts. This helps one to
separate oneself from over/under stating what is necessary to know.
Another thing for shyer people to remember is that the public wants
to know your knowledge and expertise and not your life stories. Our
art already reveals something about ourselves that we wish to share
with the world so we do not have to give them a personal history. By
concentrating on the facts of your art, e.g. materials, technique,
style, inspirations, etc., we do not have to get into too a personal
type of thing. They will already have a feeling about you and your
work when they meet you.
I hope this explains a little of my journey to gaining confidence in
myself and will help some of you find the confidence to believe in
yourself. Just don’t make the mistake of comparing yourself to
someone else as no matter how talented you are, there is someone out
there who is better.
Happy New Year with many fruitful rewards!
Karen Bahr - Karen’s Artworx
Calgary, Alberta, Canada