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


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