Seems you either have it or you don't.
Not much in between as just a little bit of confidence can go a long way whereas the reverse can keep you from realizing your potential and maybe even cost you some life-changing events.
I'm not talking about ego or self-promotion either. Rather, I'm talking about what you feel deep down inside when no one is looking … when no one else will know your thoughts.
The lack of real confidence in yourself to take on something you've never done before.
The lack of confidence brought on by one too many failures in your past making you retreat to safe ground.
The lack of confidence that keeps you locked in a rut doing the same thing with the same techniques you've used for years.
The lack of confidence that makes you think any comment posted on your work will be negative.
The lack of confidence that keeps you from pursuing work that will elevate your profile.
The lack of confidence that, when looking back, makes you realize you built a fortress on your safe ground steadfastly refusing to do anything that might bring your weaknesses to light.
If this sounds like you then you are not alone as I have listened to many fellow digital artists describe themselves in one or more of the above terms.
And … yes … this is a shocker with my mile-high ego … that pretty much describes this author too, at least through an early period of freelancing.
I'm going to spare you the Gospel According to WarLord as I really don't have any accomplishments to point to on a grand scale. I can, however, tell you how a change in attitude … in confidence … helped shape a fruitful and … more importantly … fulfilling freelance career after buzzkill careers in banking and insurance.
First, be bold but don't be stupid. Take work outside your comfort zone that you are familiar with and have the skills to accomplish but don't step off a cliff. Building portfolio and confidence can take some time but it's time well spent.
You've worked many an hour honing digital skills. You've created Poser and DAZ Studio masterpieces that are rarely seen by others.
You've dealt with various aspects of digital art that amazes and might even stupefy your friends and family.
You've learned about light and shadow, starting an apprenticeship that never ends: "The quest for perfect lighting."
Maybe you've jumped over into animation to branch out your skills. Maybe you've learned how to 3D sculpt, model and sew amazing creations.
You got the skills… but do you have the confidence to put yourself out there? To leave the fortress and venture out into unknown territory?
And if you do, will you … gasp … fail?
Most likely multiple times if you are really working hard.
More importantly, let's define these as "failures" not a complete fail. Kind of like the difference between … say … inoperable and terminal. Some may think those are the same thing, but they aren't.
A battle lost doesn't mean the war is over.
How you manage those failures and more importantly … how your ego, your psyche and your soul handle those failures will shape your confidence one way or the other.
Most digital artists that I think are very good at their jobs never have a high opinion of their work. As a project manager, I can tell you many of them send caveats when turning in work as to why "this was done a certain way" or "why this didn't turn out like they expected" even when it represented some of the most outstanding work I had ever seen from them.
If you think you are the best and have all the answers, then good for you. That IS confidence but not the kind an employer is usually looking for and not the kind I'm talking about here.
No, I mean the kind of confidence that lets you tackle something out of your safe area and still be dependable. To not let constructive criticism affect you. The kind of confidence that allows you to always grow your skillset and dive into the deep end occasionally.
The kind of confidence that breeds an understandable humility about your own work while never standing in the way of a brighter future.
M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord, is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director, and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD on his website.