Why mentoring is essential for artists

Sheila Chandra - Monday, June 05, 2017

We all grow up with the idea of the ‘true’ artist as the ‘lone wolf’. Someone who’s driven to create even in the face of everyone else’s scorn. While artists of all kinds do tend to be self-reliant and independent once they’re established, this isn’t the whole story.


At the start of their careers, mentoring is essential for artists

Virtually all the artists I’ve ever spoken to had at least one knowledgeable person who recognized their artistry at the start of their careers – often even in the face of the artist concerned’s disbelief. Not many young people have the chutzpah to call themselves an artist without encouragement. Many deny it, or minimise their belief in their talent because what they do feels ‘easy’. They forget that it isn’t easy for others, and that ‘easy’ is the way it’s supposed to feel. Or they may deny because they find their chosen craft difficult or agonizing while they’re still learning. Or because there’s no one who looks like them in their field – especially where the artists getting most of the attention are white, male, mature and able-bodied.


In a way, mentoring is essential for artists because they need to be ‘recognized’

Artists and creative people do not seem to be able to ‘name’ themselves – at least, not initially. This inability is to do with their huge humility and awareness of just how much they have to learn in order to measure up with other artists. Often, it takes the encouragement of another writer, painter, gallerist, producer, manager, dancer or whatever, to make them believe that they have what it takes to work as a creative professional. This recognition process and gentle encouragement is essential, as without it, the nascent artist may simply give up and become something else.


Were you mentored as an artist at the beginning of your creative career?

Chances are, someone helped you – either with just a comment or a great deal of support. Think back to who that was, and how crucial that support was to your growing sense of self as a creative person. Think about whether you’d have taken so many risks or thrown yourself so completely into a creative career without that conviction in your own artistic powers that those people helped you develop? Or whether you’d have taken the right steps at all without their insights and advice?


Mentoring is essential for artists making changes to their careers too

It’s not just new artists and creative people who need support. Artists making any kind of change of direction, either of discipline or change of level also need perspective. The kind of perspective that only a life coach or another experienced creative person can give. In fact, whatever level you’re at, you never grow out of needing perspective and support and advice.


It’s time to pay it back. Mentor the nascent artists you know

Dear reader, it’s time to pay back the kindness that was shown to you. If you have a thriving creative career, think where you might be now without that kindness, recognition and support? Make the effort to help artists at all levels. Be kind, suppress your competitive instincts and nurture the talent around you. In particular, encourage people of real talent to see what they have to give. Especially if they’re having a hard time recognizing it. You’ll be helping another artist to be ‘born’.

If you want to know more about the kind of support you’ll need as a creative person throughout your career, read chapter eight of ‘Organizing for Creative People’. It’ll help you assemble the team you need to make your career thrive.

Patrick Glassel commented on 09-Jun-2017 01:08 AM
Thank you Sheila, helpful encouraging theme/ article

Post a Comment

Captcha Image


Recent Posts


artistic chaos imagination clarity of thought artist goals mess much better friend clearing in short bursts temperament professional mentors low maintenance strategies emotional support housework much quicker creative spark static spaces fine art subconscious mind brilliant creator artistic conviction procrastination staying in control creative commissions organisation the void smart artists under-confidence stay tidy automatically work efficiently social media working class culture morning routines artist materials diary tips for clearing peer-to-peer networks self promotion nipping things in the bud business-like buying youth artist mentors introverts proposal writing effortlessly tidy copyright touring absences nascent artists clearing clutter missed opportunities work/home life balance artistry living clutter free bulk buy creativity creative career coaching precious memories streamlining routines feeling creative artists minimalists creative identity inspiration home care popular culture organise new year network parent clearing making decisions storage clutter saving time dynamic spaces efficient work patterns inconvenience mature artists low maintenance pop music lazy binge magic networking organizing for creative people slim-line wardrobe vulnerability loving your audience resentment creative magic mornings childhood how to be naturally tidy cleaning hijacking creativity good art work well curated closet email wind down tidy people chaotic good friend elevator pitch productivity fall of innocence quality clear desk partners too busy business-speak double standard jealousy nurture creativity arrogance stop cluttering tidy desk clearing as you go artist mentoring goals display items vocation successful artist buy fewer clothes working class artists tension compulsion workspaces creativity diary tidier Sheila Chandra author long-term artistic development sacrifice confident in clothes being tripped up criteria for letting go of stuff creative people hoarding tidiness in living spaces professional creative career stay on top of email green room slow and steady buying wealth buying hope great art nurturing creative work trope friends work trips letting go friendships buying stardust feel like creatiing warm down buying happiness normality peacefulness stardust collections social media networking control platform career strategy professional encouragement card business interface to creative businesses funding culture concentrated creative time diagnosis crowdfunding networking effectively creative wellbeing overwork creative culture critical acclaim living mess free guilty purchases good creative habits branding options being organized celebrity endorsed products why organise clutter addict theft exhaustion work priorities myth : clothes multiple lifetimes emotionally secure artist visualising getting ready for work wardrobe work life pop culture clean desk cleaning your desk innocence how to work efficiently car creative confidence tortoise and hare to do list emotional resilience email overload brands ‘creativity’ creative career proposals lifetimes loss VIPs writing funding campaigns appointments hostile clutter commitment artist workspaces artist how to save time creative ambitions home organising stop hoarding stuff domestic life tidy 2018 goals home life time clutter ‘stories’ about your possessions creative organising emotional balance sheila chandra coaching anxiety business hotel room creative person just in case focus cupboard of shame well organized hobbies boredom email bankruptcy great artists symptoms of creativity grief spree cry clear outs too many commitments disorganization motivation