4 Mind Traps for every artist to avoid

Staff Writer By: Barbara Din


All of these things happened to me, more than twice! And some just keep happening, even if I know better. So I'm writing about it to leave absolute proof that I know... maybe I'll be more careful from now on. And maybe you can benefit from being alerted about these mind traps so you can avoid them yourself.

1. Waiting until the moment is right

The perfect day, when we have the place to ourselves, everything neat and tidy, nobody bothering us, no pending errands to do... Guess what?

The right moment almost never exists.

At least not how we make it up in our minds. The truth is the right moment is now. Any moment is right.

Sometimes this has to do with a little evil creature inside our heads that tells us that we can't do something we like doing until we have done EVERYTHING we don't like doing first. And this is wrong. We need incentives, we need fuel. And doing something we enjoy gives us just that. You have to give yourself permission to use your time to do what you love. You need it to keep going.

2. Waiting until you have the right tools or supplies

Yes, they are great. And they CAN make a difference. But they can also become an excuse not to do stuff. Ahhh... art supplies. The professional ones, the luxurious ones, the right ones... Sometimes we blame not having them for not working enough or making sub-par stuff.

It is true that really bad art supplies can make you wanna abandon that medium altogether. Especially if that crappy medium is the only one you've ever experienced: you assume this is the way that medium works. And it can be SO not true.

So... what do you do?

Well, instead of buying a set of 160 children's pencils (for instance), buy 2 or 3 of the professional ones (most professional lines sell open stock). Make it a fun challenge to come up with a series of artworks using only those three pencils. You build up from there, but you made the best out of the situation. You'll feel good about yourself and that, in turn, will reinforce your will to make art. If you're not convinced you can make art with anything, go to this article and see for yourself.

3. Rushing experimentation

You've got a great idea. And maybe you can't quite try it right now, 'cause you have tons of other things to do. So you keep it in your head. And you add to it, turn it upside down, come up with other ideas based on it, and your inner gears keep turning until you just can't wait anymore. Only... Now it's 3 o'clock in the morning, you couldn't sleep so you're tired, you can't make much noise and you need a couple of things you don't have right now.

But you need to do it NOW! So, you finally try your great idea... and it turns out to be a disaster. You blame the results on the "bad" idea, and you return to your regular schedule.

But wait!

Maybe it wasn't a bad idea, maybe it was all the rushing, the lack of planning, the unfortunate circumstances you were in when you did it. Don't throw that idea away just yet. Try again, with a more methodical approach and in better conditions and you might be surprised.


My masterpiece ruined by a white goo instead of transparent beauty.

4. Applying an idea without testing it first

You're working on a project and it's almost finished. It just needs a touch of something... what can it be?

Hmm... "What if this? What if that? Oh! I know just the thing!"

You're excited, this will make it really stand out, it will become a masterpiece! You go for it... And it ruins the piece.

The materials reacted differently than you expected. Now there's no way back. Why didn't you try this somewhere else first? Yeah, you were sure it would work, even if you never tried it before. Next time, do yourself the favor of testing an idea on a scrap piece before applying it on the masterpiece. Even if it takes you more time, you'll thank yourself later.

Bonus track: if you ruined the masterpiece, you get to experiment with it. Use it to try fixes for this mistake and you might come up with a solution for the screw-up!


Barbara Din is a visual artist, graphic designer, painter, interior designer, crafter, musician and writer living in Argentina. Learn more about Barbara and her work at the following links: