Are You A Shadow Artist?

What is a Shadow Artist?

Last year, I read a book entitled ‘The Artist’s Way’, written by Julia Cameron. Within the book, Cameron discuses a challenge that many artists face. And that is the challenge of being a ‘Shadow Artist’.

‘Shadow Artist’ is a term used to describe creatives who deny themselves of their own creativity. Simply put, they are non-practicing artists. Writer Carl Jung uses the term Shadow to describe aspects of ourselves that we do not fully embrace or acknowledge fully.

As much as I would not have wanted to acknowledge such, years ago, there was a point in time when I would have been defined as a Shadow Artist.

A Familiar Story…

Instead of making my creative work a large aspect of my life, I left it in the shadows. I couldn’t find a way to integrate it into the totality of who I was.

Or maybe it wasn’t so much that I couldn’t… really it was that I just didn’t

In the situation of Shadow Artists, the creative aspect of the individual, a very positive aspect, remains buried, unexpressed, and unacknowledged because its development has not been supported in the past.

The reason for that lack of support can be a multitude of reasons. Perhaps you feel as though you have not had time to support your creative endeavors due to other responsibilities such as family.  Or perhaps you have been turned off from the possibility of pursuing your creative work because the world sent you such negative messages about the life of artists.

Does all of this sound familiar? Are you a Shadow Artist?

Acknowledging the Fear

So, You’re a Shadow Artist…

Firstly! It’s ok! – Because that’s not what matters. What matters is what you do next?

As a Shadow Artist you may surround yourself with people who pursue creative endeavors,
but you may have yet to recognize that you yourself possess the creativity they you so admire.

Believe me, it’s in there! You are creative!

As a shadow artists, you may have found success in other aspects of life,
but you still hear the distant piping of your creative aspirations because the desire and love for it is still there.

And the truth is,
the real reason you are putting off your creative work is:

not because you don’t love it
not because you’re too busy
not because you can’t afford it….

It’s because you’re scared…

You’re scared of:

  • Critiques
  • Criticism
  • Rejection
  • Comparison
  • Being seen for who you really are
  • Success – yes sometimes we fear that too!

And rightfully so! None of those feel good do they? Critique and criticism were certainly huge factors for me as well. – The BIG question is whether or not you’re willing to begin the journey of facing those fears and bring them along with on your journey, for the sake of your passion and dreams.

“Very often audacity, not talent, makes one person an artist and another a shadow artist… hiding in the shadows, afraid to step out and expose the dream to the light, fearful that it will disintegrate to the touch.” — Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

Taking Hold of Fear – Stepping Out of the Shadows

It’s important to remember that the Shadow Artist in us is a scared artist. It is her inner critic and negative beliefs that really play at her heart. So the worst thing we could possibly do is to overwhelm her with expectations, demands or perfectionists attitudes. Certainly, that will send her running for the hills.

Remember, your artist is a child. Find and protect that child. Learning to let yourself create is like learning to walk. The artists child must begin by crawling. Baby steps will flow and there will be falls—yecchy first paintings, beginning films that look like unedited home movies, first poems that would shame a greeting card. Typically, the recovering shadow artist will use these early efforts to discourage continued exploration. —Julia Cameron

Here are a few tactics I have used that worked well for me.

  • Go gently and slowly – it doesn’t happen overnight
  • Be open to learning and growth – it is a journey
  • Kick perfectionism to the side – it has no place here
  • Accept fear – it will be your companion whether you invite it or not
  • Make it YOURS – it is YOUR journey, YOU don’t have to follow anyone else’s script

Taking the leap to embrace and pursue your passion can feel hella scary! But I guarantee you it will sooth your soul and you’ll be glad that you did in some way shape or form.

Jumpstart Your Journey

Want guidance from someone who has been there before?
Want to begin your journey with support by your side?

Consider the beautiful benefits of creativity coaching

Step out of the shadows!