Hello! How are you this week? 

In this blog post I wanted to talk about the language we use and the way it portrays us as artist’s and people. This thought all came about because someone shared a quote from a book with me, and it was all about using disclaimers and how we don’t need to use them like we do.

It was so interesting and it got me thinking of when I first started United ArtSpace. People would ask me what I do and I used to say ‘I’m trying to help artists make a living’. There was one time I said this to someone and they replied with ‘trying to help?’ I replied with ‘yes, trying’. So, they put a chair in front of me and said ‘try and pick that chair up’. I picked it up and they replied with, ‘you’ve just picked up the chair, try and pick it up’. All of sudden the penny dropped and it all clicked – I got it. There is no such thing as trying. You either are or you’re not and that has always stuck with me!

What are disclaimers?

As artists we often undermine ourselves and belittle what we’re doing, so it’s really important we become self aware of the language and words we use. When we say certain things it can sometimes make us seem weak and lacking in confidence. Quite often we will use disclaimers and this will do just that. So, for example, have you ever said:

  • I am an artist, but I’m self taught. 
  • I am an artist, but I’m an amateur. 
  • I am an artist, but I don’t sell yet. 
  • I am an artist, but it’s just a hobby. 

These are disclaimers, and how many of you have said these when you’re asked what you do for a living? I see it happen time and time again… I used to do it all the time, but by making simple changes in the language you use, and thinking about how you reply, will make such a difference to your mindset as an artist, and the way people perceive you as an artist.

Feeling the doubt

When you look into why we do this, it’s because you are trying to justify yourself and feel better about it by adding doubt on at the end. But it’s the doubt we want to avoid as we don’t want galleries or buyers to doubt us as an artist. So, to avoid this we need to really think about the language and words we use and the impact that they’ll have.

Language and words

It all starts from what people read about you when talking about yourself. Your work and practise, from social media posts, proposals for galleries, your bios, content on your website, anything that has context on you as an artist. 

Over the years, I noticed I was doing this and using disclaimers within my writing and when talking about myself and United ArtSpace. However, over the last few years I’ve started to become more and more aware about what I’m saying and how it sounds. I make it sound more confident and it makes a massive difference!

Always remember…

One piece of advice that I can give, and it changed my thinking completely, is that when a buyer buys your work they never ask how you qualified in becoming an artist, or how many qualifications you have. They are not interested in that, they like your art for what it is, not how many qualifications you have as an artist. 

So, start with a small step. When someone pays you a compliment, say thank you and don’t add any doubt to the end. This is such common practice. For example, if someone says ‘I love that piece of work’, you may reply with, ‘yeah thanks, it’s just a scrap piece’. Instead, just reply with ‘ thank you so much’. Take the doubt away at the end and you’ll sound much more confident.

Top tip of the week!

You don’t want people to see you are lacking in confidence. You want people to think you are confident – whether you’ve sold one piece of art, 100 pieces or none at all. Be confident in your work and the words you use and people will read into it. 

Stop using disclaimers – own being an artist and own your art. Be proud!

Much love,

Michelle x. 

P.S. It’s absolutely fine to be self taught, a beginner or a novice. Don’t hide away from who you are. But rather than say, I’m just self taught, or I’m just an ‘amateur’. Turn this around to a positive. Describe yourself as an artist, and in your written work, such as bios and statements, share how you’re a proud self taught artist.