Are you waiting on permission as an Artist or Creative?

So many Artists I know are.  While we, on one hand, may be fiercely independent, on the other hand we can get stuck waiting for permission of some sort.  What kind of permission you ask?   From whom you ask? Well let’s just look around for a few moments.  Are you:

  • Waiting for someone or a group of some-ones to like or appreciate your work? (Your Parents, Your Peers, Your Professors … this may be people in your current life or even from your past that disapproved or didn’t like your work and you are still letting it hold you back)
  • Waiting for clients or someone you work for or even the government’s permission to allow you to financially do something? (This could show up in wanting them to pay you so you have financial permission or being afraid that if you want to create a different kind of Art you will lose clients or not be financially supported in some way)
  • Waiting for the world or society or your culture to approve of something (approval is a form of permission)? (Waiting for the world or your culture to respect your Art or Artists or women Artists or …)

From individuals to the whole world … there are plenty of permissions we could wait for.   You could be waiting for permission to do things like:

  • Create what you want to create
  • Create when you want to create
  • Make money off your work
  • Love what you do
  • Do what you do guilt free
  • Be public about your Art
  • Even to create space in your home to work

As teenagers we might have even declared at some point, “I can’t wait until I am an adult so that I no longer need my parents’ permission to do what I want.”   Then we become adults and we are, often, still waiting on permission in some way.  We may not see it that way, but that is why it might be time to check in and see if we are waiting on permissions to free us up somehow so we can be the wildly creative and successful Creative or Artist that we are.

If even a small piece of this rings true for you then consider that you COULD stop waiting for permission.  The ONLY permission you need is YOUR OWN.  So how do you do that?   Well, first you need to recognize what we are waiting on permission for.

Seriously, this might take something. Some of us waited for years because someone (usually when we were young): told us that:

  • Making Art was not smart, practical or professional
  • Our Art was bad or ugly or that anyone could do it
  • Artists were not respected
  • Artists were …
  • You were …
  • Your Art was …

I personally have had these things in my life that I was waiting on permission for.  Here are some of my examples that may give you a clue to some of yours:

A well-known, rather macho, independent filmmaker, who was professor of mine in art school, told me repeatedly and with much disdain, that my films were too feminine (whatever that meant since I AM a woman … LOL). I waited years for someone to give me permission to make Art however I was moved and called to … from my heart/soul vs. creating what everyone else was creating that wasn’t me at all. I finally gave myself permission to create MY art vs. Art to please or other Artists or be part of any Art clique.

My mother telling me that Art wasn’t practical and that I would end up starving.  She would roll her eyes at me as I worked on my Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts and remind me at every turn what a waste of time it was.  I kept waiting for her permission to create my Art AND I even betrayed my Art after I graduated and spent years in the corporate world vs. pursuing my Art full time before I realized I only needed my permission not hers.

Now, it is easy to just dismiss this and think that you have never waited on any permissions from anyone.  If that is really true … I give you a big applaud. Thank you! You are a great role model for other Artists!!

But many of you reading this will relate to what I am pointing to and may still be waiting on permission in some way.  Here are some questions you can check in with:

  • Are you creating EXACTLY what you want to be creating?
  • Do you create the time for you to create?
  • Do you have an appropriate space to create in?
  • Do you consider yourself successful?
  • Are you known, in the circles you hang out in, in the way you really want to be known?
  • If you want to make money off your Art … Are you?

If your answer to all of the above is YES then I congratulate you on busting through the permission barrier.  However, if you can say NO to any of these then I promise you somehow you are waiting on permission of some sort.  I can’t tell you what permission or from who or if it is now or from the past but I promise you there is someone or some group you are waiting on permission from.

I watch Artists struggle with things such as:  What will other Artists think if I become more commercial?   Will my Art be respected if I steer away from the techniques I was taught and create my own techniques?  Will my Art sell if I only focus on the themes or styles I am called to use? These types of questions come from wanting permission.

Here is what I discovered along my way as an Artist and a person:  MY permission was all I needed.  When I let go of waiting on everyone else and just plain ol’ gave myself permission then I could find a way to make anything I wanted to happen … and usually happen pretty fast (particularly compared to all the time I had spent waiting on permission before I stopped doing that).  Not only that, but in being true to myself I was internally fulfilled … something I could never get from the others and the outside.

Once you recognize that you have been waiting on permission then next step is the decision make the decision to STOP waiting.  Once you decide to do that it may be enough for you to get in action.  If not you may need to actually have a real conversation with yourself.  Some things are ingrained a little deeper … particularly if they are things from you past that have been there for a while.

Take yourself in front of a mirror.  Look in the mirror and have a conversation with the person staring back at you.  Let him or her know: “I now give you complete permission to ______________”.   Watch to make sure he or she really absorbs it.  Repeat it if you need to. You will feel it when it lands and is heard and understood.

Now, go do what you have been waiting on permission to do.  If you need any reminders, along the way, then please give them to you.  Your old patterns that have been seeking permission may have you momentarily slip or forget.

Now, just as a warning, there is a flip side to giving yourself permission: once you stop waiting on permission and simply give it to yourself you will no longer have any “reasons” or “excuses” to not do what you want to do, love to do, came here to do, etc. Waiting for permission is a perfect victim trap, whether it is conscious or not.

Giving yourself permission is one of the answers to breaking through into being 100% responsible for you, your creativity and your Art.  This equates to YOU having your POWER back.  I think that is a REALLY GREAT thing and is the beginning of YOU running your own Artistic life!

What are some things you have waited on permission for, either in the past or now, with your Art or Creativity?

If you already live your life as the one to give yourself permission, what kind of things have you accomplished by doing that you wouldn’t have accomplished otherwise?

Please feel free to share with me/us any feedback or ways that you have found to give yourself permission for your Art or life as an Artist.  I love hearing from you and welcome any contribution you may have!!



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