Mixed-Media Success: Just Follow Your Art

cate pratoWhen Steve Jobs, one of the most creative thinkers of our time, died, I was most moved by this quote from a commencement speech he gave after being diagnosed with cancer.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

This quote spoke to me, and I shared it with friends, family, and especially my children in the hope that Jobs' words–coupled with his impact on society–would inspire them, too.

Now, you may be thinking, "Yeah, but that was Steve Jobs. He was special. A genius! It was easy for someone like him to follow his inner voice.

Well, right about the same time I saw that quote, I noticed activity on one of the collage and mixed-media art forum threads here on our clothpaperscissors.com community.

The subject was: How do you know if your work sucks so badly you should quit?

The poster, Lori, is a longtime knitter who is new to mixed-media art. She wrote, "I have grown accustomed to the oohs and ahs over my knitting, but now I am getting funny looks and blank stares over the [mixed-media] things I am creating.  I don't need positive validation so much, but I didn't expect to get such a negative response from my friends and family. How can I determine if my work sucks so badly that I should just go back to knitting?"

I started reading the responses to her post from community members like you. You know what they said?

You got to learn to love YOU! Anything that you create is just another facet of yourself coming out-celebrate it! ~ Altered Artiface.

Seeking the confirmation from those who are unable to give it, for whatever reason, will only disappoint and make you doubt yourself. ~ Quilnan.

Art is very subjective and not everyone will always like it. It is a matter of perspective. What is important is that you like it. Remember that. ~ Belinda Spiwak.

Miss Lori, if your work is feeding your soul, making you happy, giving you some fun, and teaching you something about life, go for it. ~ Kat Allison.

If our goal in life is to please everyone then we have no life at all-it is merely a compilation of choices made for us by someone else. ~ Anonymous.

Sound familiar? I'd say some of the people commenting on this forum are geniuses.

art journal page
A page from Pam Carriker's art journal.

Not only did community members give Lori encouragement, they gave her advice on how to learn more about mixed-media art and gain confidence. Explore different materials, take a workshop, use resources like Cloth Paper Scissors Today and Cloth Paper Scissors magazine. Participate in reader challenges, start an art journal, and just keep making art.

Or, as Sodrawme623 put it: Never QUIT! Avenge the naysayers!

If you are doubting your art (or yourself as an artist), I encourage you to seek out like-minded artists like Lori did and mine this community for advice, instruction, and support.

We have a new Mixed-Media Topics page full of tips, tricks, and resources to help you gain confidence in your abilities.

And, the Cloth Paper Scissors shop is full of books, videos, digital downloads, magazines, and art supplies to help you reach your goals.

As I'm sure Steve Jobs would agree, there is genius in all of us. We're here to help you find yours.

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