What role does fear play in your creative process?

Do you laugh in the face of fear or run away and hide from it? Six creatives share their views.

Jamie Winder
Graphic designer and illustrator

"Fear - or more precisely anxiety - is felt when taking risks: accepting a project that involves things you've never before attempted, maybe something that is a jump in scope or scale, or a big client with big expectations... This feeling does not necessarily precipitate my best work, however managing fear (and taking risks) is necessary to move things to the next level. I can then work towards being comfortable again before the next frightening step up."

Catalina Estrada
Illustrator

"I remember being constantly in fear when I started my illustration career. Fear of not being able to live up to clients' expectations, fear of not getting enough commissions to make a living, fear of losing my inspiration, fear that my style would become obsolete. But I guess this is normal at the beginning. You should find a way to turn it all the way round and use this fear not only to make you stronger and to make you work harder, but also to keep your work alive and evolving."

Rhys Gorgol
Creative director, The Company You Keep

"A little fear can be a great coach, making sure you continually evaluate whether a concept or approach is the best path. It can be a reassuring hand, reminding you that you are progressing and pushing your boundaries. It can be a helpful salesman, exciting your clients out of their comfort zones. Fear can be a great friend to a designer, but one that's best kept on a short leash."

Esteban Diácono
Motion graphics designer

"I don't think you can entirely overcome fear, and for me, that's a good thing. Fear will make you cautious, keep you sharp and help you avoid two of the biggest problems in the industry: self indulgence and over-confidence. Fear has sometimes pushed me over my limits, and has made me a better animator and designer, because - in my case - pressure is a terrific catalyst."

Micah Lidberg
Illustrator

"Fear feels contractive to me. It focuses energy and eliminates everything but the necessities. In that way, it can be a powerful engine and editor. However, I don't see fear fostering openness. It can stifle new connections and risk-taking - both essential aspects of creativity. Knowing when fear is helpful, and how to harness it, feels like the biggest challenge."

Sara Blake
Illustrator, ZSO

"Most things aren't really worth doing if they don't entail fear. It jolts us into feeling alive and strengthens character by confronting not just the possibility, but the probability, of 'failure'."

This article originally appeared in Computer Arts issue 221.

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