How to be your own best advocate for your Art

photo of a woman holding an ipad
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Take a moment to consider this question:

Who do you think of as one of the best advocates for your art?

How many people said ME?

Here’s the original Live on Instagram

I want to look at understanding more about how to support our self-esteem and confidence as artists and I’m going to begin with some ideas about motivation from Transactional Analysis called Hungers. There are at least six hungers and I am going to look at two of them:

Recognition and Stimulus.

We could also think of Hungers like we might an instinctive drive. Something that is part of all of us and hard-wired into us. Different people may experience their Hungers to different degrees, but they are present for us all.

So, what is Recognition-hunger?  We can think of it as the need to be recognised and acknowledged by others.  Our feelings of belonging and self-esteem are fed by the satisfaction of this hunger. So as artists having self-supporting ways of meeting our hunger for recognition can really help our self-esteem, belief in ourselves and confidence.

Stimulus-hunger is as it sounds, the need for mental and physical stimulation, variety, challenge and touch.  If this hunger is not being fed, then we can feel numb, bored or unhappy.

Staying with transactional analysis terms, strokes are ways that we satisfy the two Hungers recognition and stimulus. A “stroke” is described as a “unit of recognition”

There are lots of ways that we can go about meeting our Hungers by seeking out strokes. These will be based on our upbringing and our beliefs about ourselves and what has worked in the past. Thinking about what has worked in the past is an important element in looking at our own patterns of seeking or giving strokes. Generally, as we grow up, we will test out what kinds of behaviour get us lots of strokes. When something we do results in lots of recognition (even if it is negative) we are likely to do it again. Any strokes, even if they are negative are better than none.

Here are some ways to divide up the types of strokes we might look for.

Strokes can be in the form of words, or they can be non-verbal behaviours like hugs, frowns or smiles. They can be positive or negative and they can be based on us doing or achieving something or offered freely without conditions attached where we don’t need to do anything we can “be.”

Some myths about strokes!

You might like to see if you believe some of these myths.

  • Don’t just give away strokes.
  • Don’t ask for strokes – even if you need them.
  • Don’t accept strokes – make sure you are humble and reject them.
  • Don’t reject strokes even if you don’t want them.
  • Don’t give strokes to yourself – self-praise is no recommendation.

Your Stroking Profile

Below is a short exercise to look at some aspects of how you might be giving and receiving strokes. There are some questions afterwards for you to use in your sketchbook or journal to reflect.

In completing the table work rapidly and intuitively, your early and immediate response is most likely to be accurate. Once you have filled in the table you might like to see if there is anything you would like to change. 

Completing the Table

To complete your stroking profile, identify where you are for each column, either colour in the table to the appropriate level or put a tick or cross at the appropriate level.  For example, if you always give positive strokes to others then colour or mark the column to the top.

 How often do you give + strokes to yourself?How often do you give + strokes to others?How often do you accept + strokes?How often do you give – strokes to yourself?How often do you give – strokes to others?How often do you take – strokes?
Very frequently      

Are there ways you would like to change your stroking profile?  If so the way to proceed is to increase the bars you want more of. If you do want to change your stroking profile note down at least three things you could do to work towards this.  Plan and carry out these behaviours in the coming week. For instance, if you decide you want to give more positive strokes to yourself you might decide that for each new creative thing you do this week you say something positive to yourself about it. Or if it is giving strokes to others, note down one compliment you could genuinely give to each of your friends. 


How did you experience this exercise?  Was there new information revealed?

What have you learnt about how your patterns of stroking might impact you as an artist?

you can download the PDF below and complete the table and questions at your leisure.

Published by Lin Cheung

I am an artist and teacher and I love working with people to help them be more creative.

Leave a Reply