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Last June, I opened my very first solo art show, Divas and Dames: The Bright, Bold Women of Kaitlin Mills at the Frontier Homestead State Park in Cedar City, Utah. This moment was a big one for me and I’d like to talk about why.
For most of my life, I didn’t believe my art was worthy of being shown to the world. It was just my hobby, so why would anyone be interested in it? I never felt it was good enough to share, or it wasn’t “real art” because it was just my hobby, or it wasn’t as good as so-and-so’s art, or "It's just digital art. It's not worth anything." The impostor syndrome was strong.
All of that changed when I was approached about hosting a solo exhibit. That year, my new year’s resolution was a commitment to do things that terrify me. So, after the initial shock of being invited (why would anyone want to hang my hobby in a museum, let alone an entire exhibit of it?), I said yes.
I immediately regretted my decision. I had only six months to prepare a body of work that would be hung, on gallery walls, in front of complete and total strangers. Thus started a self-love journey that transformed me from an insecure “impostor” to a “real artist.”
I am nothing if not stubborn, so I had no other choice than to follow through on my commitment. I got to work. With the help and support of my family and my best friend (who became my art manager), I started dedicating real time to creating art. Not just a spare hour or two whenever I had extra time in my week, but actual, scheduled-on-my-calendar hours. I spent these hours researching, sketching, and finalizing designs. After months of working seriously, I started to take myself and my work seriously. I began to recognize the value of what I was doing. As I watched these pieces take shape, I felt proud of my work—and myself.
The exhibit opening is an experience I will never forget. The museum was filled with not only friends and family, but complete strangers. People I didn’t even know were moved by my work—and they forked over hard cash for it
Was it terrifying? Yes. Was it hard work? Absolutely. Was it worth it? One hundred percent. Fast forward to now: I have an established business where I am selling my artwork and commissions. Professionally.
What I learned is that to be an artist, you must ignore the voices in your head that try to trick you into believing you’re not capable. Feel the fear, but do it the fork anyway! Has my Impostor Syndrome gone away? Of course not. It probably never will go away completely, but I don’t let it get in my way anymore. Sometimes all it takes is a leap of faith (and maybe a couple of people who will push you over the edge).
Thanks for reading! How do you work through impostor syndrome? Let me know in the comments! To stay updated on my musings about various subjects hit the subscribe button below!
That's me setting up for the art show!
My best friend (and art manager) and I at the exhibit opening.