I’ve noticed a trend lately of artists and makers feeling shame for the state of their studios. It’s something I’ve heard in my online course, Market Your Selfie, and in my online mentorship program. Artists and makers don’t want to share images of their studios online because they’re messy. And I recently noticed metalsmiths apologizing for their messes while posting their #benchportraits.
On the surface, this doesn’t seem like a big deal. It’s like apologizing for a little clutter when someone comes over to your house. But it’s actually very problematic.
First, it’s a problem because it holds artists and makers back from sharing their work and their process on social media. As artists and makers, our biggest differentiator from mass produced stuff is that it’s made by a person with a singular creative vision and a mastery of their chosen skills. But how is someone supposed to know that if we hesitate to share our creative process or studio space because it’s a bit (or more) messy?
Second, the problem of messy studio shame reflects the way Instagram in particular has evolved from snippets of real life, almost always in real time (just jazzed up with a fancy filter) to a highly curated and stylized digital magazine. This leads to a constant pressure to project perfection – which in the case of artists and makers, seems to translate to clean, organized, well-lit workspaces.
But perfection is not possible. The creative process can be messy, and when we try to reduce it to perfectly curated and clean Instagram squares, we not only do a disservice to the process, we set an unreasonable standard for artists and makers to live up to.
And the irony is that, faced with overly curated feeds, we are actually craving real views of the messy creative process. When I posted this shot of my very messy studio, it became my second most liked photo of all time.
Finally, messy studio shame is a problem because it takes us away from the real work of actually creating. Every time you feel the need to stop and clean your studio (whether that’s so you can post a pic to Insta or simply because you feel shame that you’ve let it become “such a mess”) you’re taking yourself away from time that could be better spent creating. (And as we all know, that time is precious, and for many of us, in short supply.)
So I think it’s time we start celebrating our real creative process with the hashtag #endstudioshame (I was going to use the tag #endmessystudioshame but I realized that for some people, studio shame comes not from being messy, but from not feeling like they have a “proper” studio at all. So #endstudioshame is about celebrating the full creative process, wherever and however it takes place!) Because we shouldn’t feel the need to deep clean our studios or hide our messy creative process just to share on Instagram!
BTW, if it wasn’t clear, my challenge to you today is to share a picture of your studio or workspace on social media in whatever state of mess it’s in! (And without apologizing! Be proud of that creative mess, it’s where the magic happens!) Just be sure to use the hashtag #endstudioshame when you post. (And feel free to tag me @meganauman too!)