Self-esteem, self-importance, self-worth or self-respect – call it what you will – it’s ego.

And believe it or not, we need it.

But it’s how we use it that’s really important – not only to our sense of self as a person and an artist but also how we travel and manoeuvre through our work and interact and engage with other artists.

Used correctly, ego is a strength – a useful tool in our creative arsenal.  Overdo or dismiss the importance of that proportion and ego can be seen as the complete opposite – a distinct weakness.

Our personal sense of self-esteem or self-importance is like a barometer determining attitude.  It can ensure we do a good job, set achievable goals, act professionally and help bolster others, supporting self-trust and a willingness to work through our fears.  This is like manna from heaven for any artist.

However, this healthy sense of self can become obsessive and blurred, sending that barometer into a tail-spin, ignoring useful feedback and refusing to do the work required to better either self or work.  That’s a distinct red flag.

As artisans, ego strength pilots us towards learning more about our craft and others involved within that sphere.  We need to engage with other artists and their art practices, with businesses as well as galleries and curators if you’re into promoting and selling your work.

That sense of self-image and self-worth is a gauge of the true strength of character behind what it takes to ensure a project actually succeeds so that we continually strive to move forward with our work, treating others with the respect and recognition they deserve.

None of us is an island.  While many of us may work independently, we exhibit, sell and promote within a community, so I like to take an attitude of due regard for others as well as a healthy dose for myself.

At the end of the day, it’s all about balance and respect – for self and others.

cathy jack coupland