How to build self-confidence and avoid mistakes that destroy creativity

In this post, I talk mainly about artists and creative personality types, but the same principles apply to anyone, in any area of life…

Most artists want to sell their work

But even many famous artists, fail miserably in sales

For example, Vincent Van Gogh only sold 1 painting in his life

confidence Vincent_van_Gogh_self portrait

Vincent VanGogh self portrait

Top quality local artists also struggle to get the attention they deserve

Ending up in jobs making them terribly unhappy. But it’s not only artists and creative people struggling with these sorts of issues

Common Problem: Most people often ignore the development of an important part of themselves…. Self Confidence

So some individuals learn how to fake self-confidence, and through shallow bravado they pretend to be someone they’re not. But that approach is short lived. This article is about developing confidence within yourself that is long lasting. And will be with you for the rest of your life

But the creative personality is often remarkably shy

Often very introverted

Some artists struggle to gather the confidence to show artwork to family. Let alone exhibit in public

Like Vincent Van Gogh, artists are often highly sensitive people, more comfortable being alone, rather than telling the world how great they are. It’s vitally important artists build self-confidence and interact with society. Because the public need fresh ideas

People need creative vision

Point 1. An artist’s visionary ability is extremely valuable to non-creative people

confidence Proud Pelican drawing by Simon Brushfield

‘Proud Pelican’ by Simon Brushfield Charcoal, acrylic & linseed oil on paper 70cm x 60cm (Private Acquisition)

Yesterday, I got my haircut

Through the mirror, I could tell my hairdresser was brilliant. Very creative. She had a vision for my hair. I observed an artist at work

So I gave her a compliment

Lacking confidence, she blushed and found it very difficult to accept the comment. Artists lack confidence in different areas of life. Especially when selling their creative work

Point 2. One of the biggest fears for artists is talking about money to prospective customers

Ok, if you’ve ever thought any of these self-limiting beliefs below, realize you are not alone. We all experience silly thinking sometimes. I have heard many creative people say things that defeat themselves without realizing it

Here’s 10 Confidence Killers that could ruin any creative ability you may have…

1. “I’m afraid to talk about money and put a price on my art.”
2. “I mustn’t show people the ‘real me’ it will be embarrassing.”
3. “I’m not worthy or I don’t deserve my dreams coming true.”
4. “I must do things perfectly before I show anyone else.”
5. “I’m always competing with other artists. Life is a competition”
6. “I always compare myself to others. They’re better than me”
7. “I must beat that other person.”
8. “I don’t want to draw attention to myself or stand out too much”
9. “I expect the people I love to support everything I do.”
10. “I will do whatever the person wants because he/she has the money.”

But we need to stop those thoughts quickly, before they become subconscious self-defeating habits

So, how do we build confidence?

Anyone can be confident

Point 3. Building confidence is about understanding the value we offer people

It can be anything

Everyone has something unique to give. Every single person on this planet has something valuable to offer the world

Every day, I guarantee there will be someone in your life who wants something from you that is valuable to them


One way to build confidence is to negotiate for that value. Selling the painting below was a negotiation process

confidence Sydney Harbour Sunrise painting by Simon Brushfield

“Sydney Harbour Sunrise” by Simon Brushfield (2004) Acrylic & Oil on canvas 1m x 1m (Sold: Private Acquisition)

Then practice your craft often to increase confidence

What’s important here is the negotiation process

The process of building self-confidence relates to understanding the value we offer people

Point 4. Don’t think you have nothing of value to offer. It’s a lie. We all have something valuable to give

It’s how this world was set up

When we understand the true value we offer – our confidence grows

Once a small victory is achieved. This builds confidence for higher level negotiations

But here’s the trick…

If you want to be strong in negotiations then the process should not be based on fear, but rather love

For example, if a person was fearful of the boss, or fearful of losing money in business, or fearful of losing their career, and they went into the negotiation process with a fearful frame of mind, then it would obviously be a weak position to negotiate from. However, if a person loved their work, and knew the value they offered in monetary terms, had no fear of people but was full of love and self confidence, then that persons position would be much stronger to successfully negotiate a winning deal

Here’s 7 benefits of being confident in life…

1. Confidence helps you move towards taking important risks
2. Confidence provides hope to make dreams become real
3. Confidence helps people grow and establish you as an expert
4. Confidence helps people experience greater levels of freedom
5. Confidence acts as armor in the battle against opposition
6. Confidence brings success and respect to an artist’s creative ability
7. Ultimately, being confident gives people control over their own life

When finishing a painting. I need to love it

This feeling builds my confidence. Then my art becomes more valuable

I really need that confidence to negotiate and sell the artwork

Point 4. In a humble way, I wholeheartedly believe my art is valuable. It’s very special to me

Each artwork, for different reasons, is valuable

Like my drawing below titled ‘Sleeping Beauty’

The soft sensitivity of the line work captures a peaceful mood, which brings value to the drawing. I love the gentle quietness

confidence Sleeping Beauty drawing by Simon Brushfield

‘Sleeping Beauty’ by Simon Brushfield Conte pencil on paper. approx 70cm x 60cm $1250

Below are some practical steps artists need to consider when selling original art in a professional gallery

These 5 considerations will help build confidence to become a successful professional artist

1. Artwork needs to be aligned to local market prices
2. Gallery should be reasonably well respected and nicely positioned
3. Artwork should be made from quality long lasting products
4. The artist needs to love the artwork and wholeheartedly believe the work is valuable. (Even if nobody else does)
5. Artists sometimes need a mentor to provide genuine support

Do you have any confidence issues? I would love to hear your responses in the comments box below… If you liked this article and want more, just leave your email address in the sign up form below

How to Build Self Confidence by Simon Brushfield

If you’re interested to purchase or know more about Simon Brushfield’s original paintings click here

© Copyright Simon Brushfield – How to build self-confidence and avoid mistakes that destroy creativity

About Simon Brushfield

Simon Brushfield is an artist whose work has been described as ‘poetic, enigmatic and dreamlike’ (Michael Berry, "Selected Contemporary Artists of Australia" book). His paintings have been exhibited and sold across Australia and internationally. If you enjoyed this post, sign up to Simons free email list and have posts sent directly to your inbox


  1. Great article Simon! This is true for all artists – visual artists, writers, musicians, etc. It’s really vital to have an ongoing plan for improving confidence, including identifying interventions that work for you when you’re having a crisis of confidence. Different things work for different people, but I’ve found that meeting regularly with a community of peers doing similar work is very effective for me. I do this with singer-songwriters, freelance writers, crafters, and other people who run their own small business. We often find we’ve been struggling with similar issues and are able to share suggestions and workshop solutions together, and provide support and encouragement when someone’s having a low period.

    • Thanks Rose, I’m so pleased you enjoyed it. I agree. All types of artists struggle with the confidence issue. Very common with vulnerable, sensitive, creative minds who like to think openly. This can be an advantage in building confidence, but can also undermine confidence too. Meeting together with like minds is also a wonderful way to find support and build confidence. Great input Rose.

  2. Hi Simon,
    Reading your article sums it up. How true and what a struggle. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Fantastic advice, Simon! All of which rings true for most of the writers and illustrators I know. This is one of the reasons myself and a few other writers and fans started the GC Speckies here on the Gold Coast. We talk about all things creative and support each other. While I don’t paint to make a living, it does bring a quietness to my life, being a writer with a continual running mind, filled with stories and characters all jostling to find their place in the next book. Like artists of any discipline we often need to be reminded of our value and not to compare our art or creative talent to someone else. Thank you. :)

    • Thanks for the comment Vacen. Great that you have a creative community to bounce ideas off each other and be supportive on the Gold Coast. Yes, it can become a trap to overly compare ourselves to other creative talent. But we are each very unique and I love to see that originality coming out in people. That value is priceless! Excellent to connect with you online. Thanks

  4. Christine says:

    Hi Simon, I came across your comments by accident and feel very encouraged by them…so much so I’m going to print off the important practical steps and pin it up in my creative art room so I’m reminded daily to change my negative mindset. I am my own worst critic and lack confidence in my self and my work (though others would not necessarily guess as I mask it). Im regularly told by friends and family that I create lovely art, cards, furnishings etc but tentatively dabble at selling it as I always doubt that it’s good enough. I see work by others and either compare myself and feel inferior or I feel inspired to do better. New Years resolution…. Less doubt, more clout!
    Thanks Christine

  5. Superb article, fear and confidence are really two opposites, fear is the enemy of success
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  6. Unitha Muhammad says:

    Simon this is a good article for anyone stepping out to work their talents and/or gifts. We all need confidence to succeed and attract the customers/clients we need. I hope many artists read and apply your great insight. Blessings and multiplication of your art being sold. And placement in all the right places to send your wealth. Stay the course and keep encouraging and enlightening the masses.

  7. Thank you for this wonderful article Simon! I’m a fledgling artist who has moved rapidly from mixed media into oil and acrylic abstract styles. I have my first group exhibition coming up in a well known gallery for hire in Brisbane. As an unknown & new artist I have no idea how to align with local market prices. Most in my group are new to exhibiting and the consensus seems to be to price lower to sell rather than stick to a formula. I want to be 100% happy with my price and my online research of pricing has been inconclusive. Are you able to provide advice on what an emerging artist price range might be? Thank you so much. Your website has a wealth of information for me to digest!

  8. Most people’s worst enemy are themselves. By raising and keeping your self-esteem up you’ll feel more deserving of good things in life. And so you’ll go after them more often and with more motivation. And when you get them then you’ll be a lot less likely to self-sabotage in subtle or not so subtle ways.
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  9. Your words ring so true, I had worked for so many years trying to paint/print as ‘good” as other artists, then I met a gallery owner who has total faith in me and my work, she offered me a show and told me that her job is to organise, mine is to ‘go create’ . I cannot tell you how much that one statement has given me the confidence to paint what I love, in the way that seems so right to me. I at last have enough self confidence to be ME in my work. I hope that you keep publishing these articles.

  10. Hi. Great article.
    I love to draw, and I love art. And I’m trying hard to be a good graphic designer and/or illustrator. But I have a serious problem, I seem to be unable to feel confidence about my skills and my art, I find hard to love my works. Due to that I end up throwing so much sketches to garbage than to continue working on them. Sometimes my lack of confidence even makes me stop practicing and makes me think it’s not worthwile. But I have to change that, or I will never be able to be an artist.

  11. Sue Di Giacomo says:

    People like what I do. But I still have a fear of moving forward. I have been invited to a seminar this weekend and the woman who is putting on the seminar asked me to bring some paintings to it. I was so excited. Now I am scared. I am also tired from working so hard to get ready for it. Why do I need other people to express their acceptance of my work in order to accept it myself? Then when I do it is hard to part with it.

  12. Elizabeth says:

    This is a great article, it really made my day :) thank you so much for writing it.
    I’m a student in college, pursuing animation. And I love what I do, when I’m not having those defeating thoughts. I often think “there’s no point in making this (whether that be a webcomic, animation or anything really) because my classmates are all better than I am, and everyone loves their art much more”, or “how can I call myself an animator when I’m a sophomore and can’t even use Photoshop correctly?” And it prevents me from even attempting to practice (I want to practice my Photoshop skills or figure drawing but sometimes find it difficult due to the fear of being bad, or just giving up at the start). It doesn’t help that I have low self-esteem in relation to my social life, and will often tie the two together to even further my defeatist attitude (on accident).

    I should really keep what you wrote as a mantra to help during these times. Thank you so much for writing this

  13. It’s really important to be confident and believe in yourself.
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  14. Self-confident people seem to have it all – this is because they internally feel they can get whatever they aspire for. Success seems to be knocking on their door – because they are able to gain the confidence of others.

  15. Hello,
    I am an IB student taking IB HL art now and i lack in confidence.
    I believe your article would encourage a majority of the population.
    However there are some points that seem hard for me to accomplish.
    You say as if the reader could change his mind just by thinking which i struggle to do. If thoughts are created by chemicals in your brain which are produced according to the environment how can you change your thoughts with what people call free will. It is almost impossible to cheer up an person with severe depression just by saying think positive. Wouldn’t this be the same for general people? And suppose that the environment did change and people around you say the artwork is good. How can you trust what these people say. They could be simply saying it because they can’t be bothered dealing with the person loosing confidence. I do not understand how you can trust others opinions. Is it possible to get me out of this way of thinking so i can concentrate on Art.

  16. i just finished my diploma in graphic design,alot of times i get scared about my works,loose confidence.right now i’m.having that feeling.i wish it could all just go away you know?

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