Trendy Living is not Creative Living

Thoughts on making art even when you’re scared of failure.

“Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.” 
Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

I used to be so creatively filled up when I was surrounded by other artists. I just wanted to take all the pictures, create all the videos, and do all the collaborations. I would be so inspired by life’s experiences and what story I could portray with them. Then somewhere along the line I started to be intimidated by these other artists, telling myself lies like, “Their ideas are so much better, don’t voice your ideas, they won’t accept you, you’re weird, just try to be like them and they’ll keep you around.” It turns out that we all have these negative thoughts from time to time.

Growth as an artist involves doing the things that scare you. Make one of your ideas happen and tell me if you’re happy with the end result or if it was a piece of crap.

Maybe your ideas ARE weird but you can’t be unhappy with something you didn’t try to create. ALSO, you can’t prove your inner fears wrong if they disable you from trying.

I think we all get caught up in chasing after a certain aesthetic that all of our friends are following online and we start to aim to achieve all the fame and fortune on a platform where everyone is doing the same thing. We start to make our art go to work for us.

Here’s some advice: Don’t pressure your art to make you money or go to work for you. If you do, you’ll only suffocate your creativity.

You don’t need to follow trends just because everyone else is. You can make art, you can be art, you can turn your life into whatever you want it to be just by being inspired by the experiences around you. Why try to compete for fame, fortune, or affirmation in a place where creativity means recreating the same ideas that everyone else does?

“Hey y’all make sure you get your fill of authentic instagram captions with tasteful brand shoutouts.”
“You ain’t minimal if you don’t desaturate all your whites and blacks.”
“Don’t call yourself a travel photographer in the PNW if you don’t desaturate your yellows and blues and turn up the temperature.”

If you’ve been trying to learn all the secrets of Instagram fame and fortune, read no further, I’ve just given you free “creative” advice and now you can achieve all your dreams before figuring out you don’t know who you are as an artist. My Medium article will still be here when you circle back.

When you follow a certain style or one “aesthetic,” you’re limiting yourself to everything you could be creating. You could be the next Picasso, or Ansel Adams, or *insert other influential artist’s name here.*

Don’t limit yourself.

My mission is to become more of what I love to do. I want to challenge myself to make my ideas manifested. I don’t care how silly they might sound when I try to explain it to others. I’m going to work on confidence.

Failure is okay. Stop letting your fear of failure inhibit you from reaching your dreams and creating the cool stuff you want to.

You’re an artist, you’re going to do a hell of a lot of failing before you even get to grace the sands of success and satisfaction in your work.

Embrace failure and trust the process. We can’t get where we want to be overnight. Art is meant to challenge us. As an artist you see the world differently and you want to show people a different perspective through your medium. But know that it’s okay when people don’t understand your art. Sometimes when you go to make art it doesn’t end up the way you had imagined, sometimes it’s better than expected, sometimes not, but you tried and learned from the process. I think the real success is following through and being dedicated to your process.

Art doesn’t have to be accepted by others. Art is simply manifesting an idea that evoked something in you that you wanted to portray physically. Let people take it how they want to take it.

We’re all on our own journey and it’s not fair to yourself to compare your journey to somebody else’s. So don’t. But keep creating.

Keep failing with me and we’ll get there when we get there.

If you’re a creative and you enjoyed reading this, you may like this article, too.


I’m McKenzie Hanson, a photographer and social media filmmaker based in Chicago, IL. I juggle a camera in my hand and a baby on my hip. Follow me on social @itskenziejean and check out my website www.mckenziehanson.com.