You will have fears
I recently saw a post on Instagram where someone was explaining that they’ve been making toy photographs. They said something along the lines of “yeah I thought it was a weird hobby too at first.” 1. No they didn’t. No one looks at something in a negative sense then immediately picks it up for themselves. More likely they saw that people were making photos of toys, they thought it looked cool or fun, but then immediately thought people might judge them for participating in it. 2. People will accept or not accept whatever they do or don’t. You don’t have to try and normalize yourself and go “wait, wait, wait, don’t worry, I know I’m weird, and knowing that makes me less weird.”
I get being afraid of being judged. We all go through that from time to time or maybe all the time, but owning what you do can be so vital for your mental health. Be proud of your passions. If other people don’t approve, so be it, you don’t need their approval. Enjoy your life and your hobbies and you will meet like minded individuals along the way.
And if that fear still nags at you, I’m totally a proponent of fake it til you make it. Pretend you’re confident. Not in all circles, do find someone to confide in, but if you’re going to share your passions with the world in someway put on a confident front about those passions. Your confidence will draw people in and in time may very well become real pride in what you do.
People will try to bring you down
I was talking to a fellow toy photographer once and they told me that I needed to change what I was doing because no one would ever hang my work in their child’s nursery. 1. I argue that there’s a select few of my works that would be completely nursery appropriate. 2. In no way is getting my work hung in a nursery my goal and if I worked with that in mind I would have quit this pursuit a long time ago.
I don’t think this person had any ill will in mind. I think they thought they were being a mentor. But making art doesn’t always have to be about making money. And I think if that’s your sole goal you might not be making the best art you could be making.
I’ve also come across people who don’t understand why I do what I do and try to explain it off as self therapy or a side hustle. And let me be clear, I fully believe in art as therapy, but a personal artistic practice in most cases is not. Art is a labor of love with a stress on the word labor. It can be frustrating and infuriating in the process, but the goal of the end result is what motivates the process. I feel an intense urge to make the pieces I make and sometimes they come very slowly as the ideas evolve and are processed in my head. In this same way, while I occasionally make money in this, I likely put more money into it than I make. I would love to be in a more monetarily stable place with it someday, but for now I work a full time job, while I navigate the outside art world.
Own what you do
All of this to say, if you love what you do, artistically, creatively, intellectually, or otherwise, that’s all that matters. Own it, make it yours, and let the outside world fade away. You may never have the full support of your friends or family, but you will find support. The amazing thing about creative communities, locally and online, is that they’re often very accepting. There will sometimes be negative people in those circles, but they’re more than outweighed by the positive ones.
The more you focus on your passion, your love, your happiness, the better work you’ll create and the better you’ll feel.