How to embrace yourself and your creative work


In creativity tips Posted

Have you been struggling with your creative work recently? Or do you struggle with self-doubt as a creative? Then this article is for you.

Being a professional illustrator has resulted in me embracing myself and my creative work. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t completely love every single thing I make on every day, nor do I feel like the most awesome person ever. That is not what embracing is. To me, it means that you accept and appreciate something. When you learn to embrace yourself and your work, you can thrive. And who doesn’t want that?

Accept the flaws in yourself + your work

One of the reasons why I now appreciate myself more in a creative sense is that I have accepted that I’m flawed. I have on multiple occasions uttered the words “I am not the best illustrator in the world” – just because I could. It is something that helps me feel grounded when I need it. When I obsess over my skills and my work, I remember that I’m not trying to be the absolute best. If you can admit that you probably are not the best at something and probably will never be, it will help take some pressure off. Instead, address the flaws you have. Do you wish you were more experienced? Do you wish you had more examples of your work? Do you wish people saw you as an expert on a certain topic? All of those areas means you’re just a book with a part that is unwritten. (Yes, I’m referring to the Natasha Beddingfield song and I LOVE IT)

When you feel like your flaws are bad,  realize this: “I’m trying to be the best version of myself. Every time I learn something or discover a new part of my style that I can explore, I am allowed to feel pride and appreciation.”

Find a reason to create

Sometimes when you don’t embrace who you are + what you do, it can be hard to bring yourself to make work at all. If that happens, it’s important to try and find a reason to create. If you’re like me, you probably have the drive to create regardless of if there is a goal to it. You’d just want to make stuff because your hands itch. When you doubt yourself, this itch can disappear. The way to get back into it is to find another reason to replace this itch – until you get it back!

You can try to create for your friends. For charity. For the local shop. For a stranger on the street. To bring attention to a cause you’re passionate about. To help invite people over to a dinner party. Or to decorate a public space that normally is not inspiring. Try and find a reason to create that lies outside yourself and your self-worth. It will help you get back in the game! When you see what your work can do for others, it will help you to embrace what it is and what you are.

Anna Lena van Iersel - Love What You Create

Love What You Create Art Print available here

Don’t create all on your own

One of my personal pitfalls in the past has been that I did not create things together with others. When I was younger, I would have regular craft afternoons with my mother and sister. One of the lessons I learned from that, is that working with other people on projects is always better than alone. Sure, you might need to be alone to focus from time to time. However, if you’re with others, you will see that you judge yourself way harsher than others do. You will get new ideas and approach things differently. You can even co-create on the same surface and see what happens. Or, you can arrange to meet a friend every other week and celebrate your wins. Celebrating creativity is something that can be so beautiful, that you will let go of fears and finally embrace what you do.

Wrapping up

These are things that I do personally in my illustration studio! They have resulted in side projects, friendships, and personal mantras that I love. I hope they will do the same for you. If this was useful to you, be sure to share it with your friends or let me know on instagram!

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