Tuesday, February 1, 2011

3 Ways To Fight Fear

Today's post comes from a new friend I've made recently, Alica Eisen. She is a Toronto based artist who has a background in Animation and Illustration. Her watercolor works caught my eye so I invited her to share with us some of what she's recently learned after a long hiatus from drawing. Comments and shares are appreciated. Enjoy!

Fear and the artist go hand in hand. What we do for a living demands us to put our heart and soul on display, and that is not an easy thing to do. I recently overcame my fear of taking a break from the animation industry and reacquainting myself with my first love: drawing. It took a lot of inner strength for me to do this and I learned a lot about myself in the process, this is what I want to share with you today. The three most important lessons I learned are:


At first I was paralyzed with fear because I hadn't drawn in so long (nearly 2.5 years). I knew my skill level had dropped and this terrified me. After letting that fear stop me from doing anything for about a month I realized, if I had just sat down to draw once every day for that month I would have improved my skill level to back to where it should be. All of a sudden it seemed so stupid that I had wasted all of this time. I started to draw. Believe me the first month after that all of my drawings were HORRIBLE. But I stuck with it and I am proud to say that my skill level has surpassed what I ever thought I could do. In turn my confidence and sense of self-worth have shot through the roof (see bonus lesson) !


As artists we are creative people. I enjoy drawing, painting, performing improv, writing and animating. After working for an animation studio for the past 2.5 years I realized I had gotten too used to taking direction and I had lost touch with my own creative voice. I made a promise to create something new everyday, whether it was a painting or a piece of animation or some writing. I am on a journey to reconnect with my creative voice and everyday I see it show itself a little more.


This is a lesson again tied to fear. The fear that nobody will like your art and in turn you have to explain yourself so they don't think less of you. If you have gotten into the habit of sharing your art as well as an apology (i.e. - I don't really like how this turned out, I rushed when I drew this, I was so tired when I coloured this etc.) stop it now! It makes you look like an amateur and unprofessional. If you are really that unhappy with your art then FIX IT before you show it. If you are at a dead end then be honest and ask for help or suggestions. Never put yourself in a position where you feel you have to apologize for your art, and therefore never apologize for it again.


Self confidence is an essential asset. The best way to build your confidence is to build your own sense of self-worth. Establish what it is that makes you happy, what traits you admire in other artists and goals you want to reach. Set a deadline and actively work towards it. Every time you accomplish what you set out to do you will be adding to your self-worth. Every time you don't complete something or let it drag on longer than it needs to you will feel bad about yourself and subtract from your self-worth. It's as simple as that.

I am still learning new things everyday. Becoming a better artist is a lifelong journey. If you would like to follow my own journey check out my blog where I update (almost daily) my struggles and victories: frecklesfun.blogspot.com

Happy Drawing,

Alicia Eisen

Whether you're a creative or not, list some of the ways you've fought fear and won. Or perhaps, you're still in its grips? Has this post made you reconsider facing those fears and moving forward with your passions? Let us know in the comments section.


Michaele Razi said...

Awesome post, Alicia! Going to check out your blog now. Dennis, you're awesome! Thanks for introducing us to another wonderful talent. As usual, I get exactly what I need from your blog! xo

sarah said...

Great inspiring post. Self confidence is definitely the key. I 'm scared too but liek you say if you get into a habit of trying and tryign eventually I won't be scared anymore ; )

Unknown said...

@Michaele Thanks! I'm happy to spread the word on the talent out there.

@Sarah I think every attempt gets you closer and closer to being more confident. Like when you're first riding a bike.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the awesome comments guys! Never stop creating! :)

Small Business Internet Marketing said...

Artists face the same fears others do. We all question ourselves and our worth at times. Self-confidence is definitely the key. Having a thick skin that handles rejection without falling apart helps too :)

Unknown said...

That's why I think this post is so good. It doesn't just speak to artists.

Jeannette Paladino said...

This is a wonderful post. I think those of us who are creating -- whether it's drawing or writing -- always have that niggling little thought in the back of our heads that this isn't good enough. The reality is we're all working, or should be working, on things that we're good at and that we enjoy doing. So, no more apologies. Thanks for reminding me keep the faith!

Unknown said...

Yes. You rock, Jeannette! I love you're writing. It's always clear and informative.

Melanie Kissell said...

Dennis, you've found a fabulously creative and artistic friend in Alicia!

Alicia -- thank you for speaking right off the cuff with your wonderful "fear" lessons and a glimpse into your personal life!

I truly envy you, Dennis, and all artists. I'm so bad at art, I can't draw a straight line with a ruler. :)

The illustrations on your blog are "MY" kind of art -- love your work!

Paul said...

Spot on. Every single time I write something I get that spot of worry in the back of my mind. I realized, however, that not every single piece is going to be perfect, not every single story the best I've ever written and perhaps most importantly, we are our own worst critics.

When you just throw something out there because you really don't feel its very good and so don't invest much attention in it, then have it meet a great reception, the point is driven home.

Keyuri Joshi (on the ball parent coach) said...

First, your drawings are beautiful! The first one (and I mean this as a compliment) struck me as a woman "mooning" someone. As I read your points I thought "she's mooning her fears!"

Each of your suggestions reached and inspired me. I've been putting off public speaking for a while now. Every time the fear gremlin pops up, I'll use this post to... well.... moon them!

Catarina said...

True Alicia. Fear is something we never get rid of completely. Maybe because part of our brain is still on the lookout for tigers and other wild animals attacking us?

However when we are creating it's worth remembering we all have different taste. Who's right and who's wrong? You simply cannot discuss taste. So I guess the person paying for the creation is "right"?

Another thing is that stage fright actually makes us do a better job. Would we make much of an effort if we were certain we would succeed?

Myke Bakich said...

Great post, well said Alicia!

I find that when I focus on the outcome, fear seems to creep in; what will my drawings look like? what will people think? will it be good enough? etc.

When I put my focus in the present moment,in what I am doing/creating there is no fear, only joy. I feel that's were I am most in touch with my creativity.


Unknown said...

Hey guys! Thanks for sharing your experiences.
Catarina- interesting point. The subject of "taste" is very subjective. Of course you will always work on something you don't like but it has to be at a standard where you are still proud to put your name on it, or it is a waste of your time (unless you need the money!)

Thanks again for your comments, I'm glad I could inspire you guys! Keep creating!

Susan Oakes said...

Great post and Julie is right it happens to all of us who create work for others to judge. Someone once told me to ask myself.."What is he worst that can happen". It helps put things into perspective.

Unknown said...

What a great turn out. I'm very happy with how you all responded to Alicia's post.

@Paul Thanks for your honesty. Even great writers like yourself have moments of insecurities and that helps others to know.

@Keyuri That made me laugh. I'm more than confident you'll be a great speaker. Just do it! :)

@Susan Absolutely.

Rob Berman said...

Thanks for sharing your journey. It was great to see that you faced your fear and came out even better on the other end. It is hard to look at a blank piece of paper or screen and know that you need to fill it up.


Unknown said...

Aint that the truth?

Vanessa Brantley Newton said...

This is so needed! OH you hit the nail on the head with this post! How wonderful. I will take this to heart too. Great post Dennis. It's wonderful.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Vanessa. I hope you noticed that I'm not the author. :)

Catherine Lockey said...

I agree procrastination subtracts from one's feelings of self worth. I want to do so many creative, enjoyable things that I sometimes put off what is most challenging and later feel quite bad. Self discipline directly impacts my self worth and I must push myself every day to be self disciplined. Thankfully, every new day brings me another chance to improve.

Janine said...

Love this post as I feel an affinity with what has been written with myself trying to get back into my writing last year and how terrified I was, feeling that I was putting myself out there for the wolves! It's all turned out to be more than worth it though.

Stephanie Ramón said...

What a great article Alicia! It's always very encouraging to learn about an artist in the animation industry overcoming their creative fears.
A lot of us can fall into a rut working long or just tedious hours in animation, so your resolution to create something each day is a good one-and something we should all try!

Unknown said...

Thanks again to everyone for their amazing responses. Its so easy to fall into a trap to stop communicating with our peers when things get hard because we don't want to seem like the weak one in the pack. The key to success is constant communication with colleagues and friends. You would be surprised how fast writers/artist block goes away once you just tell someone about it.