As you may have noticed, I have a bit of a passion to help. Artists in particular are at the top of my list of people I strive to help if I possibly can.  In fact, when my wife Tamra founded started The Acting Center to provide criticism-free training for actors, I was happy to jump in and support this effort, and 13 years later, still do. “The Arts” cover a lot of ground. They embrace acting, writing, painting, music, graphic art, voice acting  and much much more. Really any of the aesthetic fields that try to get a message across (one would hope with the intention of somehow improving conditions, even if only to show something needs improvement) qualify as art. What kind of help do artists typically need? One area of need amongst almost all emerging artists is self-confidence. Invalidation from others, as well as self-doubts, are huge stumbling blocks to overcome.  So, simply validating ability and bolstering confidence are more valuable than one might realize. One program I love that recognizes this in the field of art and literature is the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest. This program was started to discover and help both aspiring writers and illustrators: “In these modern times, there are many communication lines for works of art. Because a few works of art can be shown so easily to so many, there may even be fewer artists. The competition is very keen and even dagger-sharp. “It is with this in mind that I initiated a means for new and budding writers to have a chance for their creative efforts to be seen and acknowledged.” —L. Ron Hubbard, Writers of the Future Vol 1 These prestigious illustration and writing contests are free to enter. The entries are judged blind– meaning all identification is removed so the work is judged based on quality alone—100% diversity accepted, all colors, races, ages, genders, nationalities, religions, etc. The real impact of the program is seen in the authors and illustrators that have gone onto professional careers. In fact, over 100 new science fiction books have been published by these authors over the last year. Whenever possible, Tamra and I personally attend the annual awards celebration, which happened just last week.  It was at the Taglyan Complex in Hollywood, attended by a star-studded cast of artists dedicated to helping artists. Prior to the awards event, the winners attend a week-long workshop with professionals from the worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy generously sharing  hard-won knowledge.  

As a former professional illustrator myself, I have been honored to present at this workshop several times, and it was a remarkable experience. I count this program as one that has given me great joy and inspiration in the power of helping others. I have seen the potency of validation, acknowledgment and support in helping artists reach for the dream of becoming working professionals. You, too, can help others with validation of real skill. When you see another’s creation, let them know you have seen it, and what you admire about it, not merely what you don’t like. See how this makes you feel to help another in this way.  

I think you will find it a very valuable habit to develop, and one that pays untold dividends.