Change your thought process: The best way to overcome imposter syndrome as an artist

Have you ever felt like you don’t exactly know what you’re doing? Like your art isn’t good enough? Perhaps you’ve felt out of place in the art world or have questioned your capabilities. Even if it is something you know you’re more than capable of doing. If you’ve struggled with thoughts like these you may have been or possibly still are dealing with something called imposter syndrome. 

Imposter syndrome isn’t mutually exclusive to the arts or being an artist. It can happen in any field and to anyone. I’d wager that most of us have felt this at some point in our lives or will. I know I have. 

Imposter syndrome is basically feeling inadequate within your field when you aren’t. It is in essence feeling like a fraud. It’s not a good feeling but it is sometimes a necessary one and even a positive stepping stone. 

It is important to realize that no one knows what they are doing 100% of the time

It’s important to know that no one knows what they are doing 100% of the time. As humans we assume that when we grow up that we are supposed to know everything. That with age comes everything but we don’t and it doesn’t. That’s not to say we don’t learn, grow, and mature. It simply doesn’t happen as automatically and for everyone in the way we romanticize growing up as kids. That’s just not how life works no matter how much it may seem it.

You may get more wise with time and you may learn a lot in school or otherwise but you still always have moments where you’re faced with something new. There will be moments throughout your life when you don’t know what to do or you’re feeling insecure. That is the human experience. No one of us is all-knowing. We learn and adapt as we go.

But Letitia, that makes no sense! How can being insecure be a good thing at all? 

Well, the feeling of being inadequate is coming from somewhere within you. Listening to where that is coming from and what it is, is the first step to overcoming it. Getting over that thought and feeling will allow you to grow not only as a person but in your work as well. Managing to get over the individual thoughts that create the collective thoughts giving us imposter syndrome is the best way I have found to push forward. 

One thought at a time

Taking things a step at a time allows you to effectively get what you need done. Just like I apply this system to my projects, life, and goals I also apply it to my thoughts. I’ve turned it into my thought process. I find this especially helpful when my mind is going too fast or when I need to plan something. Being someone with ADD I find this to be a decent coping skill in many areas of my life. You definitely don’t need to have a brain like mine to make this work for you though. This is a practice and skill that anyone can develop and that anyone can benefit from. 

So, how do you do it then?

Take one thought at a time. If you’re currently struggling with one thought or one feeling of inadequacy towards your art or anything, zero in on that thought. What is it exactly? You may actually find it helpful to write that thought out to see it all in front of you. If you find you have more than one thought and feeling going on, write them down and pick one to start with. 

Once you have your thoughts out of your head and more tangible, say it aloud. Think it through, what is this thought and what is it really telling me? Write down what that is. 

Then you work through each thought, examine it, turn it into something that you can work through.

For example, “ Wow, look at that person’s paintings. I could never paint like that. I can’t possibly keep painting because I doesn’t even compare to that. Who is going to want to buy my art when stuff like this exists?”

I admire this person’s work so much so that I am comparing my skill to theirs. I am wondering why would someone buy my, perceived less skilled, art when there is better art out there and available. I am feeling inadequate in comparison to this person, I am feeling jealous and envious of this person’s skill. I cannot move forward because I am feeling this way about my own work. 

Let’s break it down and work through it. Let’s turn these negative thoughts of inadequacy and turn them into something more positive. Something you can work with. 

I admire this person’s work. I think they are skilled. I am envious. Why am I envious? Because I like their style, I like their technique and the way they’ve executed their public work. 

I wish I was more skilled. I know I have things that I would like to work on but that doesn’t necessarily mean I can’t do it or that the work I am doing right now isn’t good. Everyone has a style they like, techniques they are good at. If there is something I know I want to work on more, I can just work on that. 

How can I work on these things? Find tutorials and practice more. There are elements of their work that I love and I could find a way to add them into my own work by making them my own. I particularly admire the colours they use so, I can work with those or similar colours. Play with them and do my own thing with them. This can be a great place of inspiration for me. 

There is a lot to work with here now that the thoughts have been broken down into something more tangible and positive. You can start to see a solution to the specific skills or areas you can actually improve on that some of your feelings of inadequacy are coming from.

It’s much easier to improve by putting a plan in place when you know exactly what it is you need or want to improve on. Consider which is easier to move forward into action with: 

  1. Their work is better than mine
  2. I like the way this person is able to incorporate realism into their more surreal art. I would like to add elements of this to my work but I don’t feel as though my skill level can achieve this currently.

I don’t think I have to tell you that B is the correct answer here. If you know what it is you can, should, or want to improve on than of course it is easier to take action. 

Setting Goals

Once you can see where you’re looking to improve you can make the plans to do so. What is your goal? What is the specific thing you would like to achieve or improve on?

Say, your goal is to be able to draw hands more realistically. Break your larger goal down into smaller, more manageable tasks. It’s the same idea as breaking down your thoughts. Having smaller tasks or goals to meet within a larger one makes them easier to tackle. For our example of drawing more realistic hands you could make your tasks/goals/steps as follows:

  • Find or take reference pictures of real hands in different poses
  • Watch a tutorial to find more effective tips
  • Practice drawing hands from life or reference photos (10 minutes a day for 10 days) 
  • Keep practice drawings accessible to compare at a later date to see improvements
  • Examine progress and see what else needs to be improved/adjusted and go from there

The truth is breaking down almost any problem in life like this can be helpful for a resolution.  Imposter syndrome has certainly gotten the best of me over the years and I have come to find that I am not the only one. This is a common feeling for people to have. Even the most confident of us have moments where we don’t know, where we feel lost, or we feel inadequate. 

No one is perfect, perfect just doesn’t exist. Humans are flawed but that that is what is beautiful about us. The fact that we can grow, learn, and overcome makes it all even better. 

The next time you’re feeling unsure or not good enough in the world of art know that there is a buyer for everything. The saying “art is in the eye of the beholder” rings true. There will always be someone out there that likes what you create. Regardless, art is often very personal and is a journey. You will grow and change as you create, as time goes on. Art may be a talent but it is also a skill that can be learned. You will always be able to improve upon the things you need or want to. 

Tell me your thoughts on imposter syndrome below in the comments. Have you ever experienced it? How did you overcome it?

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Until next time my Creative Friends!

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7 Ways to Take your Art to the Next Level Right Now


Looking for ways to improve your work and take your art game to the next level? It sounds like a long daunting task and while practice (obviously) makes perfect that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways you can immediately improve.

I’m not saying you are going to become Monet or Picasso over night, that simply isn’t possible. What I can help you do is take small steps to acquire more knowledge, gain more skill, and put it all into practice.

  1. Learn a new technique – or at least try something new

This sounds like a big task, but it can be as complicated or simple as you like. Learning a new way to do something or trying out a new material is a fantastic way to practice your skills, bring in more creativity, and allowing your skill set to grow. Just as we grow and mature our art takes that journey with us. Your style, tastes, and abilities will change. Help yourself grow by exploring something new.

For example, if you normally don’t shade your work you could take a few minutes to do some shading exercises. Take a ball (or whatever object you like, balls are just one of the easiest and clearest ways to practice this), place a light source (a table lamp) somewhere that the light is shining on the ball and draw what you see. You can move the light source around and do a study. You can use other objects, multiple objects, multiple light sources, etc.

You could try out a new way of shading, say cross hatching or stippling, again this can be something that takes more effort to learn (like drawing realistically or learning how to print make) or it can be something simpler like learning a new way to shade.

It can even be something as simple as trying out a new material. Say you normally draw in pencil, try some water colours or markers instead.  You’ll be surprised how much you can learn, pick up, and grow by doing this even if just every now and then.


Drawing from a model

  1. Draw from life

One thing you will hear from pretty much every art teacher on the planet is to draw from life. Drawing from life (instead of your imagination or even from pictures) allows you to truly see what is happening with the figure you are drawing. This is especially true for figure drawing (drawing people). The difference between drawing from your imagination and drawing from something sitting right in front of you can be astounding. Our brains often think they know what something looks like and to be fair they generally do. What our brains don’t recall are specific and important details. Details that you often don’t notice you are noticing. When I went to art school we had at least one figure drawing class a semester. I cannot tell you how much my abilities improved even in the first couple weeks of these classes. Most of us don’t have access to naked models to draw from (and no, they don’t HAVE to be naked) so, you can improvise. Using your family or friends, people watching on transit or at a park can be a great way to get in some practice drawing from life. For objects or nature that is obviously a little easier.  In fact, I challenge you to draw something that is sitting in front of you right now. Take 5 minutes and doodle what you see. The more you do it the more adept you will become. It takes practice, but you can start right now! Every little bit you do makes your brain work towards it.

You could put this theory to work: pick an object. Draw it once a day for a week. The more you draw it the better you will get and the more details you will notice. Drawing from life allows you to pick out and examine things you may not have seen from memory or in picture. You also get a more realistic proportion.

As a bonus if you ARE interested in drawing from models check out your local art schools, they often hold drawing nights that are available to the public for a fee.


  1. Make time

Even if you take five minutes; if you have time to read blogs, you have time to draw. You can doodle quickly on public transit, getting a coffee, during lunch break, whenever. Practice makes perfect and you don’t improve if you don’t do.  A sketchbook is the perfect place to do this, you can even keep a small one with a pencil in your bag or purse. I keep a couple right on my desk and I usually have one stashed in either my diaper bag or in my purse depending on what I am lugging around. I never use to be a big sketch book person, even in art school I just didn’t understand them. Now that I’ve taken the leap I am wondering how I waited so long. I obviously owned them and used them before, but I only ever really used them to work out an idea for a finished piece. Now I use them for everything. I practice, do studies, take art classes or tutorials online, create my own work, draw from life, doodle, use watercolours, etc. I live in my sketch books now. It was one of the best things I have ever done to hone in on my skills and grow as an artist.


  1. Critique your most recent work

What do you like about it, what do you not? What is working, what could be done better? What elements and principles of design are being used and are they effectively done?

This doesn’t take long, you probably even have a picture of something you’ve created recently on your phone. Take a minute to look at it, evaluate it the best you can and find where you can improve.

I don’t particularly suggest asking a friend with no art background to help you do this (if you were thinking of getting another opinion). People without an understanding of art fundamentals and the elements and principles of design or who have never been to a more formal critique will likely give you answers along the lines of “I like it, it looks good”, “I don’t like it, it’s just not my style”. While valid observations to the person observing their likes and dislikes it is much too generalized and open to be productive for you to grow as an artist.


  1. Draw it again challenge

 This one is a lot of fun to do! Find something you created a while ago, I would say at least a year ago, if not longer, and redo it. You can see where you’ve grown, what has changed about your style, where you still need to improve, and you may even end up with something you like much better. I like to do this at least once a year, but it is a great place for you to start right now.

Teddy’s Shadow was created using the prompt “Shadow”

  1. Prompt challenge

 Pick a prompt and go with it. The prompt can be a word, a lyric, poem, sentence, whatever you like. The prompt is a tool that allows you to flex your creative muscle. Finding a way to incorporate something you may not have normally and giving you a project to work on. This is one of my favourite ways to either get out of a slump, do something for fun, or practice illustrating.  A wonderful tool for those of you looking to illustrate things for other people. Need a prompt to get started? Try the word: Shadow (if you use it, I would love to see what you come up with, I will link my social accounts below this post!) If you like Teddy’s Shadow you can watch the creation of it here.


7. Brush up on basic design practices (elements and principles of design, a refresher is always helpful and can even provide inspiration)

Go back to your high school art days (or if you’re in high school, perhaps look back at your notes). Either way channel your beginner, learning self and brush up on the basics. Knowing and understanding the fundamentals like the elements and principles of design, colour theory, etc. will aid in your journey. I like to go back every few years and just go over some old notes again or even find a short course or video online explaining these things. I always find I have forgotten something or at the very least coming out of that I look at things in a new light. There is a reason you learn this stuff before you get in to doing bigger projects in school and it never hurts to brush up.


Have any tips for upping your art game right now? Let me know how you do it in the comments below.

Be sure to share your work with me:




Until next time, my creative friends!



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