Motivation, Overwhelm, and the Feeling of Inadequacy.

So I’ve been sitting here for two hours drinking coffee trying to get motivated to write. I was feeling overwhelmed with all of the ideas I had for topics. Finally, I decided to write about how these emotions affect me, and I am sure you as well.

First up: Motivation.

Motivation: from the root “motive” which means the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.

 Framing a drawing for my recent Open House. I was motivated to get a lot of my art hung and sell some too!

Framing a drawing for my recent Open House. I was motivated to get a lot of my art hung and sell some too!

What motivates you? Is it being inspired by something? Are motivation and inspiration one in the same? Perhaps a new project gets your creative juices flowing? Or an idea for how to overcome a challenge in a client’s space? For me, motivation comes when I come up with a solution to some problem I’m having, or I’m eager to try out a new medium. I’m also motivated by the potential feeling of guilt if I don’t do what I know I should be doing, like working out. I get motivated when I connect with other creatives and share ideas about work, business, and life in general. A few months ago I met Andrea, the owner of Wild Chairy in Philadelphia, who graciously spent a few hours talking with me and introducing me to a few other ladies who share space in her studio building including Laura Sallade. We shared business ideas, the commonality of being female entrepreneurs, competition, and personal life challenges.

As a creative professional I find it difficult sometimes to maintain motivation throughout each project. I get very self-critical about halfway through when I second guess myself, or if the project is very monotonous and requires a lot of discipline. Sometimes its only the promise of that final payment that keeps me going. I may be in the middle of a project, up on scaffolding doing miles of strie, engrossed in thought when “pow!” I have a great idea for something. But I can’t act on it right then and there because I have to finish the project I’m on. Then when I go back to that idea, I’m not as motivated to do it because that initial energy has dissipated, or I have mulled over my ideas and shot holes in them thinking why they won’t work. Other times I’ll be immersed in a creative environment and be so excited I don’t know where to start first. I’m interested in hearing about how you keep motivation alive when you can’t act on your idea when it strikes you.

Last month I spent a week in Greensboro, NC at our annual IDAL, International Decorative Artisans League, convention where I taught a class and had my first experience with Market. Wow. Talk about overwhelm. Which brings us to our next segment:

Overwhelm

Overwhelm: defined as to bury or drown beneath a huge mass.

 A great impromptu dinner at the Grandover with new and old decorative painting friends on my last night.

A great impromptu dinner at the Grandover with new and old decorative painting friends on my last night.

First, let me clarify. Not all overwhelm is bad. My first time at High Point Market was incredible. IDAL’s conference was strategically planned to coincide with Market so that we can align ourselves as Decorative Artists with the Interior Design Industry. As a group, we went on Wednesday, the last day because the showrooms were quiet and there wasn’t much going on. That suited me because I really got to take it all in without too much chaos. I chose to wander around by myself so that I could stop at booths that intrigued me, and I wasn’t on anyone’s schedule. Our group did merge together on occasion, and one such time was when we came across Kaveri Singh’s booth where she was demonstrating painting on silk. She had a beautiful collection of hand printed as well as hand painted textiles.

How do you cope with overwhelm? Being a natural introvert, I need to retreat and be alone for a while. It took me a few days to decompress after a week of being immersed in new decorative painting classes and products, new friends, and a revolving door of roommates throughout the week. Don’t get me wrong, I loved being at convention having been able to connect with my tribe. Sharing ideas, tips, and swapping war stories is always fun with people who do what you do and understand what its like to be a decorative artist and business owner, but I was really happy when it was time to drive home. Spending 6 hours in the car solo with my own thoughts was a treat and eventually I was motivated (there’s that word again) to get back on the work wagon. During the drive, I was able to distill my experience and really get a handle on all of the information I took in.

And Finally, the Feeling of Inadequacy

Inadequate: lacking the quality or quantity required; insufficient for a purpose.

 A recent abstract mural installed in a condo lobby in Baltimore for Interior Designer Brian Dermitt. (I had a lot of doubt and trepidation about this one.)

A recent abstract mural installed in a condo lobby in Baltimore for Interior Designer Brian Dermitt. (I had a lot of doubt and trepidation about this one.)

After being immersed in such a creative environment such as Convention and Market, motivation to create can be overwhelming. I will decompress sometimes by perusing social media. But do you ever get sucked in to Instagram and come away feeling like you aren’t as talented or successful as others who do what you do? I’m having a love-hate relationship with social media right now.

Having been struck by what I think its a cool idea, I’ll be really excited to start down the path of making it happen. Take my new venture LS Home for example. A lot of times, once I get an idea in my head its all I think about and see around me. Maybe thats called the power of manifestation. But it seems that I begin to see things on social media that are similar to my idea, and executed seemingly better. Or its as if I was beaten to the punch in a way. I have to remind myself that nothing is original anymore and someone has probably already done it, and to not be discouraged. With Instagram and Facebook closing the gap between us, we are more aware of trends, who’s successful, and it seems like a never ending rat race to the top. I have to admit, I am sometimes dumbfounded at how many “likes” a post gets when I think the art is just ok. How are they so commercially successful? Whats the secret sauce? Comparison is the death of creativity I read recently, ironically on Instagram. However, it doesn’t have to be all bad. I really love to see posts by people I admire and see works that inspire me.

Using social platforms is a must in our industry. I know I have to keep up with it to stay in my client’s minds, but seeing what others are doing, and in my mind, better than myself, is always a challenge. Having the positive feedback of friend and colleagues is tremendous and keeps me going even when I’m doubting myself. I’d love to hear how you cope with comparison, and how it affects your motivation when you are struck with inspiration.

Thanks for reading, please share your thought with me and our fellow readers!!