Dealing with Fear of Failure

“I believe Picasso is the most useful model you can have in consideration of your artistic influence, because whenever Picasso learned something he abandoned it and as a result of that, in terms of his development as an artist, the results were extraordinary.”

– Milton Glaser

We all have to face the fear of failure and as an artist you will without a doubt encounter it repeatedly.

An experience with Fear of Failure

During my teenage years my fear of failure manifested itself in a daily struggle to sit down and draw. Sometimes there would be weeks, even month between me picking up a pencil and when I finally did sit down to draw, I could rarely do it for more than 15 min at a time. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to draw, it was that I was deadly afraid of messing up the drawings, worried about them not being good enough. Worried about failing and not being an artist. In hindsight I really wasn’t an artist then, but I didn’t know that. I came to realize that 10 years later as I learned how much was actually involved in being an artist.

It’s hard beginning as a new artist because you have to fail in your drawings and paintings a million times over before you become any good, it is a difficult thing to embrace.

It’s hard beginning as a new artist because you have to fail in your drawings and paintings a million times over before you become any good, it is a difficult thing to embrace, it’s even agonizing at times – because in art we are so desperate to express ourselves but practicing our skills and recognizing which mistake we make in every picture is the only way we can grow.

Milton Glaser’s advice on Fear of Failure

Milton Glaser (06/26/1929 -) is an American graphic designer, best known for the I ♥ NY logo and his Bob Dylan poster. During Berghs’ Exhibition 2011 a series of interviews were recorded with a selection of prominent artists and designers speaking about the fear of failure. I was particularly taken with the interview with Milton Glaser and wanted to share it with you:

Milton Glaser – on the fear of failure. from Berghs’ Exhibition ’11 on Vimeo.

I no longer struggle with drawing daily, in fact it’s rare I have days where I don’t draw now. I overcame the early fear, but there are always going to be new ways in which you might encounter it. Fear of failure can be paralyzing and stop us from taking action on something we know will otherwise move our careers forward, but don’t let it get you down. Learn to recognize when it’s holding your back and then try to push through.

I hope you found some encouragement in this, if you have experiences with feel of failure or methods to overcome it please share your story in the comments, I’d love to hear from you and if you know others who struggle with this, please share this blog post with your friends.

Links:
Milton Glaser’s Website
Fear of Failure on Mind Tools
Drawn by Success

Kiri Østergaard Leonard
kiri@kirileonard.com

Award winning Illustrator, Artist and Creator Kiri Østergaard Leonard happily shares her experiences making a living as an artist and pursuing a creative life. She grew up in a tiny village in Denmark, left her country behind to pursue art in the bustle of New York City and now resides in the delightful weirdness of Austin, Texas surrounded by sunshine and felines.

No Comments

Leave a Reply