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FOMO - Art Style

by Anna Rose Bain on 6/6/2012 7:10:21 AM

This post is by guest author, Anna Rose Bain.  This article has been edited and published with the author's permission.  You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.  This author's views are entirely her own and may not always reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.

The only non-art related publication I subscribe to is Women's Health Magazine, simply because, by the end of the day, I've worked so hard and been so immersed in my art that I need something light and inconsequential to help me wind down. However, an article in the latest issue (June 2012, pp. 106-108) really caught my attention. The article was titled, "Are You a Slave to FOMO?" It's not considered an actual disorder, but FOMO ("Fear of Missing Out") is, according to Huffington Post's Annie Stamell, "an epidemic sweeping our nation". In the article, one psychologist states, "FOMO happens when we invalidate the experience we're having because we're obsessed with the ones we're not having." This often triggers a great deal of self-induced stress, guilt, envy, or insecurity. Not only does FOMO invalidate your experiences, it causes you to want to "inflate" the experiences you are having so that others will envy you. For instance, you might tweet, "Sand between my toes, a good book, and a cold drink. This is paradise!" when really you are sitting in your backyard sipping a soda, doing your taxes, and slapping mosquitos away. Okay, that might be a silly example, but I think you get the drift.

Why do I bring this up? Because my little art-wired brain recognizes FOMO as something I'm seeing far and wide in the art world, particularly because of Facebook and other social media. I've experienced it myself. I'm suddenly remembering all those hours I spent in college framing and finishing last-minute pieces for my senior art show... my friends were all out partying, and I was experiencing FOMO. Or, when many of my art friends attended a certain art event its first year running... and then the second year, and the third year... without me... I experienced FOMO. It made me feel like I wasn't good enough, and that no matter what I was doing here at home, it would never be as great or as exciting. Or even this past weekend, at the Portrait Society of America conference, I conked out at 11 every night and missed out on the late-night festivities and conversations. Uh, hello... FOMO. As I continued believing I wasn't one of the "cool kids," self-doubt set in, among other unhealthy emotions.

Quite honestly, this is ridiculous. As artists, we should be accustomed to long hours alone in the studio, where nothing matters but creating excellent work. Yet we can't peel our eyes off of what the rest of the world is doing, and consequently, we waste valuable hours of our lives in envy and regret.

Here is my solution to dealing with FOMO in the art world.

1) Limit your time on Facebook. Post when you have something relevant to say, or a new painting to show, etc, but don't spend hours stalking your art friends and envying what they are doing. I also have a policy that when I start feeling envy set in, I will think about why that person is really great and deserves the wonderful things that are happening in their lives. Then I write an encouraging comment (i.e., "Amazing work!" or "So glad you got to experience that!"), to validate their experience.

2) Whatever your reason is for missing out on something, OWN IT. For example, when I missed out on all the parties before college graduation because I was framing art and finishing paintings, I was happy to say that I never suffered from a hangover, AND that all the hard work paid off. I sold many of the pieces at my show! Even if you can't attend a workshop or conference, or go to lunch with a famous artist, or travel to Europe every year to paint... don't worry about it. Do the best you can with the circumstances you are in and make the very most of that time. Your work (and your happiness) will improve exponentially.

3) Enjoy each stage of your career, while applauding the successes of others. This is a tough one for me, because my tendency is to always look ahead, while missing out on the present. Being an artist IS about the journey, not about how many publications you get in or how big your studio is or whether or not you become famous. It's the journey.

Samuel Adoquei said, "The best artists are givers." That is what I see at events - knowledge and talent being poured out by artists so that others could learn from their successes and mistakes. Hopefully as we are inspired by others (and not hampered by FOMO), we will take what we can use for our own personal journeys and simply leave the rest. We've got painting to do!


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Topics: advice for artists | Facebook | FineArtViews | Guest Posts | inspiration | online art groups | social networking | Twitter 

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Esther J. Williams
I do believe in the journey as opposed to expending precious energy fretting over missed events. We have so many resources to enjoy close at hand, our own backyard can be paradise. We expect too much today with all the bombardment of social media and emails, tv and advertising. To me, each day is an unfolding of creativity right at my feet. Sure I take art and personal trips, do shows, receptions and exhibitions, but I have trimmed it back. To do quality artwork takes discipline, many hours of alone time and focus. We are the producers, distributors and promoters of our art, if there are sales to be made, I am spending whatever time it takes to get the job done. Like now, I need to paint something special for a customer as an addition to what I thought was a done commission. So much for that beach walk, I will take it tomorrow.

jack white
Inventive article. You are an excellent writer. I like the way the story tied together.

Donald Fox
Acknowledgement and gratitude are two practices that help keep one centered and on track. The negative stuff tends to fall away. Being an artist is really a tremendous gift.

Lisa Mozzini-McDill
You are right on with this FOMO! The only way out is to appreciate the moments you are given and acknowledge the accomplishments of others!

Karen Burnette Garner
Anna Rose, this is a very wise article. How often I get caught up with being afraid of what I am missing instead of what I am experiencing now! Thank you for this timely reminder!

Susan Holland
Anna Rose the concept is not one I really relate to, possibly because I am "Johnny One Note" about most things...and I am this way because that is the only way I can keep my head from taking off to space. ADHD requires a bit of isolation, so I'm inclined to choose a quiet space where I don't have to listen to the people who are participating in the much stuff. I am grateful to pass it by, and I am okay with people thinking I'm "antisocial."

But when my focus is on the "happening place," it's fully there-- no regrets or wishes to be elsewhere. In may ways I feel really lucky, but the price of ADHD is not enviable. I say hooray to your multi-taskers! And thank you for seeing that everything keeps going! If I were in charge, it would not keep would screech to a stop all the time.

Thanks for the illuminating article, Anna Rose, and I agree with your FOMO advice. It will derail anyone, not only easily distracted people, but also those who can focus, but find it hard to shut out the background buzz. :)

Marilyn Rose
Anna, Thank you for putting into words what I battle in my own thought quite a bit of the time. Nice to hear others have the same feelings and great to hear other's solutions.

Jana Botkin
Great article! I think FOMO is reaching epidemic portions because the world is at our fingertips these days.

If I am painting, I'm not reading the latest marketing advice and then there will be too much to read and I'll fall even further behind in either my reading or my painting and then I won't be able to participate in a show because i'll be reading and painting and on and on and on. . .

Might need to go lie down now.

Jana Botkin
Forgot to say CONGRATULATIONS for the sales at your senior art show - that is fabulous. And congratulations on having the good sense to finish your work and skip the hangover. . . I'm impressed!

Susan Gutting
Couldn't have said it better myself. A great word.

Anna Rose Bain
Thank you, everyone, for the comments. I'm glad it has resonated so well. @Jack White, especially - thank you - that means a lot coming from you! I have read all your marketing books and I'm so glad you're here on FASO. Thank you, all, for the kind words. Happy painting!

Like Susan Holland I can't really relate - probably because I have a 98 percent perfect life :)

Ah, Facebook again ....

Susan Holland
Uh oh. Did Jackie read my comment and get the idea that my life was perfect? If it sounded that way, it was not supposed to! I was just trying to say that I struggle, and my solution is to drop out of nearly everything, by habit, to solve the FOMO problem. Long time sensory overload..ever since childhood. Not a perfect situation...but there are even ways to work with that.

I am sincerely sorry if people were offended by how I put it.

No, Susan, no! Apologies, I just meant that like you I couldn't really relate to the article. I'm so sorry!

Donna Robillard
I think when I was younger I was afraid of missing out on everything going on, but have realized the satisfaction in enjoying and appreciating what is actually at my doorstep. Having taught students with ADHD and even knowing adults who have it, it is a struggle and you do have to learn ways to deal with it. Having said that, I think we all have things we have to do to let us work more effectively.

Lori Woodward
Anna, I met you at Putney Week, in Scottsdale earlier this year... you and your artwork left a lasting impression on me. You are easy to get along with and a great artist to boot. You will, no doubt, go far in your career whether or not you attend every important event.

I relate so well to what you have said here. Even though I do get to hang out with some artist superstars, I too fell left out when I see what my friends are doing on Facebook. You're right, that's crazy!

To be completely honest, sometimes seeing people I know very well in person sharing tidbits of their lives on Facebook and getting responses like they are celebrities (which they are in the art world)... kinda puts me off. It seems a little fake to me.

Whenever I've attended a huge event like the Portrait Society or other convention, I feel like the whole event becomes a popularity contest... you're either "in" or "out". Before I began writing for art publications or was invited to the Putney Painters, I was definitely an "out". I was completely ignored, and came home depressed and humiliated.

Worse: now that I am better known, people seek me out and want to befriend me. I'm the same person as before. It bothers me too that people think I can further their career or perhaps get them a guest spot at Putney. I can't...

So, all of this is to say, you haven't missed out on anything. What matters in the long run is how good your artwork is, whether or not you're a pleasant person and honest. Many in the "in crowd" can be downright pushy, and it's all about "them".

I'm not saying they're all like that. There are dozens of artists who are well known whose company and friendship I enjoy. I treasure some of the friendships I've made through networking in real life and online.

The truth is, watching the art world from my computer screen is making me weary, and on some days, downright insecure.

Esther J. Williams
Lori Woodward, you hit a core in me with your response. For years I felt like an outcast when I started to do many art association shows. I felt so chagrined by the 'better' artists. Some egos are quite inflated in the art world or any other profession for that matter. Everyone is taught how to play certain games from their growing up years. We learn from parents, relatives and friends how to maneuver and be better positioned. I did not like the games and often retreated to practice my art as a young child. Sooner or later we learn how to co-exist games or no games. Today I feel more on top of my art game but I am the same inside. My ego has stayed tame albeit more confident as my artistic abilities evolved. I have not run away from the lineage of peaceful, timid soul to creative conscious mind to existential egomaniac. I stay centered but developed real relationships. The exterior world is so tempting with all the happenings going on. People do try to catch onto stars to make their lives easier. We need to strike a balance between soul searching, intellectual, creative enlightenment and the outer material, physical, social consumption. Tough thing to do in today`s society wit al the celebrity, designer focus.
When I attend art shows now I feel different than I used to. More accepted and on an even level with my fellow artists. Maybe I had an insecurity issue back then, it is erased now. I enjoy seeing other artist`s works and compliment them. Spreading the enthusiasm as it should be done because we all have to share this great big world together. Might as well get along doing it.

As far as Facebook goes, I get annoyed seeing all the SOLD signs in big capital letters. I used to do that too and then I felt what others might be going through with no sales. So I would make a smaller statement like this painting has gone to a new collector. Not in capital letters like I am jumping up and down. Facebook is used as a marketing tool and I can understand why those artists are using the capital letters and exclamation points to get attention that way. But there you go again, they have that larger ego than maybe you or I do. I market on Facebook only with a sensitive approach, at least I feel I do. Sometimes I just want to avoid all the chatter and stay off it. I do have a busy life and some days are sixteen hours of non-stop activities. I have not had much time to spend on this FASO forum for weeks. So, here I go back into the trenches to get productive for an upcoming outdoor show. So, stay at it everyone, keep painting and creating! You are unique!

Cathy de Lorimier
Anna Rose, your article touched a nerve in me as well. Suffering from FOMO is unproductive and self-destructive. I do my best to live in the moment, although sometimes it isn't easy, especially being able to "see" what everyone else is doing through social media. I was just away at a family reunion and didn't see much of anything online for several days, and found myself happier for it! It is healthy to be "unplugged" for a while, to recenter with our loved ones, and with our art. Sharing it with others is the best, isn't it?! Thank you also Esther and Lori for your wise comments!

Hope Barton
This really struck me at the time and I have been thinking about it for two days. I am at a point in my career when I really need to get rid of any excess baggage. I finally decided that I may not be rich and famous in my lifetime and I should be happy with the galleries that represent me (we have great relationships but I always seem to be looking for one more gallery where I can sell more work). So, in the twilight years of my career, I will work at being the best artist I can, be happy with the sales I make and will quit thinking about how the "Grass could be greener somewhere else". Also, I have found that some artists and galleries present a great front that may not be as great as it seems.

Susan Holland
Jackie, I send you a smile. :)

Phew, thank you Susan :)

Olivia Alexander
Loved the article Anna, very well written.
It's so important to keep the 'heart' right. I guess we can all be subject to FOMO at some stage and it seems to be the way the world is gearing up.
I surround myself with positive people and try to help others to achieve their dreams too by helping where I can.
I think that really helps me to overcome FOMO. Many people have helped me along the art road, it's what makes the artist's life so special so I can easily afford to pass that along to others!


I have missed out on so many things I am so focused on my art I guess it's too late to worry about it. LOL

This post was exactly what this artist needed to see today. Thanks!


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