Overcoming Modesty and Selling Yourself

by Pierre C. Arseneault

April 12, 2011

I wanted to write this short article because I am sure that I am not the only one who once struggled and still does with this thing called modesty.
Having been raised by old fashioned parents who instilled the belief in me that modesty is a virtue, the old “look at what I can do” was not a part of my vocabulary for a very long time. This is something which makes it hard to sell yourself and your work, hindering any dreams and aspirations one might have to be an artist or writer.

I struggled for a very long time with the thought of showing my drawings and any other artistic endeavours. We all have that fear that people will not like the work that we struggled so hard to make. But it really wasn’t because of a lack of confidence in the work, but rather a fear of being thought of as a show boat. Personally, it took me, a very long time to be able to show my work to anyone without feeling like one of those braggarts that I didn’t want to be. That is a lesson that any modest person who wants to be an artist of any kind will have to learn and overcome. Otherwise, those dreams you have may never become reality.

When you value modesty as much as I do, it often leads to having trouble accepting praise. As well it may leave you wondering if those close to you are praising your work only because they don’t want to hurt your feelings or simply to be polite.

Cartooning did teach me one thing; not everyone will like your work. As an artist, you have to grow a thicker skin and accept the fact that not everyone will like what you do. Once you learn to do this, showing your work and learning how to accept feedback, whether good or bad, also becomes easier as well.

The trick is to learn to like your own work. Most artists, myself included, tend to be their own worst critics anyway. You will have to come to terms with the fact that you will not be able to please everyone. Everyone’s taste varies and so how can you expect everyone to like your work. You don’t like everything you see, so why should others?

In closing, there is a fine line between being proud of ones work and holding the title of braggart. This is usually a matter of opinion and each individual will draw their own lines in the sand as to what they feel is acceptable and what is not. With that said, be proud of your work and don’t be afraid to share it. Otherwise, the world would be a pretty dull place if all artists didn’t share their abilities with the rest of us.

So if you have dreams, do what I did and grow that thicker skin. Learn that you can't please everyone, do it for the love of the craft and it will show in the delivery of your work to others.

Confidence with a dash of modesty goes a long way in my book.

Pierre C Arseneault