10 Things Holding You Back from Crushing It

If you’re like most independent artists, you probably have lofty goals in your sights. You want to build your independence as a designer and make a living from your creative work.

And like most artists, you probably find yourself struggling to reach your full potential due to one, or more, of the following things that hold people back from crushing it.

1. Failure

If you’re like most artists, you’ve been discouraged, warned, and lectured to about the difficulty and improbability of pursuing a career as a creative artist by everyone from favorite teacher to your kid-neighbor. Failure has become such a complementary idea to the idea of an artist making a living from his or her creative work, it’s often the first thing that comes to mind when meeting an artist.

Don’t let this get you down.

Use doubt to fuel your drive toward success … you know, like reverse psychology.

2. Money

This stuff has a lot of influence.

Excusing yourself from your creative work because of it is unacceptable if you hope to make a living from your creative work. Try including a small budget for your creative work within your monthly budget. If you don’t have a budget planned, just stash cash-money in a jar every week and hide it from yourself.

Like any entrepreneur, you need to find ways to make money from your work. Expand your collection of products, create memberships, offer your services, explore opportunities. As an abstract painter, I create the Accent Collection for this exact reason … it targets people interested in interior design and decor more than the abstract expressionism community as a way to find customers and make money to continue my main work. As an entrepreneurial artist, it’s up to you to figure out how to make money to fund your creative career.

Graphic designers have their work cut out for them these days … just about everyone needs to know a designer for one reason or another.

Don’t let cash money stop you. Find a way.

3. Time

This is one of the dangers of the freelance lifestyle, as no one can fire you for a slacker work-ethic.

If you find yourself excusing yourself from working toward your passion, just remember that we all have the same amount of time — 24 hours a day.

Think about other apparel designers … are they watching three hours of television per night like you? Probably not. They’re probably in the studio working on their latest release or a side-project needed to fund their next release … in other words, they’re probably on their way to crushing it.

If you respect your goal, then you’ll turn off the television and get to work. Besides, do you really want all those doubters to be right about you?

4. Confidence

You can’t by confidence as a designer in the apparel world — it costs sweat and tears. However, you can start developing your confidence by dedicating more of your time to your craft. The more time you dedicate, the more you’ll prove it to yourself.

You won’t have trouble introducing yourself as a designer anymore.

You’ll strike people as someone on their way up.

Confidence comes from experience, which brings us to the next thing holding you back.

5. Experience

There’s no minimum experience required to start producing work independently.

Getting hung up over your lack of experience won’t get you anywhere. It just holds you back from spending time, developing confidence, and striving toward pro status.

You’ll gain experience from the time you spend designing, hustling, and developing your work.

Like confidence, you can’t buy experience — you have to earn it.

6. Competition

There’s mad competition in the apparel world, for sure … it’s a good thing.

Competition, like doubt, will help duel your drive to excel with your work as a designer, so consider welcoming it into your world instead of cowering away from it.

7. Perfectionism

With competition in mind, your struggle with perfectionism might be holding you back as well.

Perfectionism can be a good trait so long as you’re making progress, however, it can quickly become a stilt if you find you’re not making progress with your work. A lot of artists, no matter the medium, struggle with perfectionism regularly … the key is to know when your work is done.

8. Difficulty

Your creative career as a apparel designer isn’t going to be easy … in fact, it’s going to be really hard. That’s why most people tell you it’s impossible, you can’t make a living from it, and so on. The truth is, it’s more possible than every before thanks to the available technology and desire for independent products, but it takes a lot of hard work.

9. Focus

It’s hard to get much done when you can’t focus, so it’s important to understand what you need in order to achieve your maximum focus. It might be a certain time of day or night that your focus is at its max, or perhaps a location away from home … figure out what you need and work it into your schedule as much as possible.

Everyone has a different method — you have to discover how you work best.

10. Direction

If you haven’t figured out what you want to do yet, you’re gonna have a bad time. Just kidding, but you will find it a little more difficult to move forward, as you’ll likely change your mind and lose interest in projects. Graphic artists have such great opportunity to explore these days, it’s hard to decide what direction you want to take your talent, but don’t worry — you’re not alone.

Exploring each medium and consider what you find attractive as a designer.

Once you know your direction, you can work on crushing it with your talent and hard work.


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