Blog| The Comparison Game

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If you’re not aware, I’ve been sick for the past few days which would explain the lack of a blog yesterday. Our house is full of sick people and animals at the moment between Demo getting his arm amputated, Almond not feeling good, and me getting knocked out by a severe cold.

How do I spend my sick days?

Mostly by scrolling through Instagram and watching YouTube videos. Like most artists, I follow a ton of other artists as well. My YouTube is filled with speed paint videos, studio vlogs, and all sorts. On Facebook I see video features and articles about other local artists and projects and all of their art.

And then I started to feel bad about myself. I am surrounded by artists so it’s hard not to compare myself to them a bit. I see their amazing works and galleries and projects and my mind goes, “Why can’t I have any of that?”

Comparison is a double edged sword. Most artists do it in some way. They look up to other artists and take the styles and techniques they love and try to emulate them in some way. It can be healthy to do this. A lot of artists learn through emulation and there’s nothing wrong with that (as long as you’re not passing it of as your own and selling it.) We do it all the time, taking qualities we like and inheriting them.

Advice from Facebook:
“You do you. Every artist, regardless of medium, find fault in their own work, so having the balls to put it out there to the world is huge. You are not anyone else, and no one else is you. Be you, do you.”– Emily H

“I would say everyone’s art journey is different. Don’t compare your work or how you approach being artist to other artists. Your story will be unique to you. In addition to that, don’t look down on other artists if they don’t follow what you consider the proper way to go about being an artist.” -Kendra M

The problem gets to be when you do it too much. When it no longer is about growing yourself, but looking at your growth and diminishing it because it’s not as good as someone else’s. Comparison tends to lead to jealousy and envy. It’s a struggle not to do this. Humans are competitive and that permeates the art world, especially with the surge of social media. It’s a battle for followers and likes and shares.

That’s when comparison can become mostly a negative. It’s a fixation of “Why am I not selling pieces? Why can’t I get my own gallery? Why don’t people want to feature my work anywhere?” Artists put so much of themselves into their work that it gets personal when they see another artist they think had an easier time get more of a spotlight; it can lead to resentment and jealousy.

Advice from Facebook: 

“It’s normal to compare your efforts to the works of someone whose talents you admire. The trick is to compare without criticism.” -Billie A

” The world is full of different tastes so even though you might like and admire someone’s art, you shouldn’t push yourself to be too much like someone else because plenty of people will like YOUR stuff.” -Ana H 

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms. ~ Zen Shin” -Lisa M

We’re all not immune to it. I’ve been doing art seriously for 10+ years now. I’ve done small galleries and group shows and now help run one. I am not immune to it at all. I watch these videos of artists being able to work full time in their art studios and create all day while I have an office job and barely get the time and energy to work on my own pieces. You look at everything and wonder what you’re doing wrong.

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Here’s something not a lot of people know.

A year or so ago, my depression was on and off and I seriously considered giving up pursing art as a career and resigned myself to boring office jobs. I hadn’t sold anything after putting hours into my paintings and watched as my friends sold piece after piece and got commissions and invited to do cool events and workshops and everything while I was struggling. I thought there was no point. Everyone said they liked my work but it wasn’t showing.

I had spent years in the art community and had gotten no where and was tired of being passed up. I wasn’t in galleries, no one knew who I was. It was pointless.

Advice from Facebook: 

“Stop that shit!” -Todd G

” Let your light shine.” –Greg F

I love art. I need art to keep myself sane and balanced but comparing myself to everyone else had put me in this dark pit that I couldn’t get out of and I wanted to quit. I was so tired of fighting and climbing uphill. It took Rony to talk me out of it and keep going. Things got better. I stopped focusing so much on everyone else. I took the time and focused on what I wanted to do.

I do both original fine art and fan art, but not solely either or. It puts me in this weird category where since I don’t do constant fan art I don’t get the recognition for that but because I do fan art, I don’t get the recognition for my fine art. I’m in limbo. It was one of the reasons why I’ve been trying to make the Lubbock Artist Collective galleries so diverse. I want to allow room for both fan art and fine art you can be good at both.

The artists I follow online are in the same category as myself, but it’s hard locally. Lubbock is small and the art community is tight. Even surrounded by artists, I feel like an outsider.

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There are times where I still get bouts of jealousy and self-deprecation. It’s hard not to, but I’m working on it. Now when I see others succeed, I have to remind myself it doesn’t affect my own journey and I should be excited for them. I look at my Instagram feed and the Youtube videos and use these glimpses into other artists worlds to inspire me rather than put me down. I use it as motivation.

Seattle will have more opportunities. I’m growing my own opportunities here for now.

It’s not easy and it’s never going to be easy. Paintings don’t sell and pile up, you email galleries constantly looking for a place that will accept your art. Opportunities go by while you see your friends get more and more. It happens. But you have to keep going. The hard work pays off eventually.

Advice from Facebook: 

“I know art is cathartic for a lot, including me, but remember it’s fun and that it’s okay to just make stuff that isn’t great sometimes, so long as you enjoy it.” -David P

“We’re our biggest critics. Focus on your work and what you want to do. Don’t compare to others, because they’re on their own journey and see things through different eyes than you. We’re all human and have a tendency to be too hard on ourselves and think the next person is better. More often than not, that person you think is better, is probably thinking the same thing about someone else.” – Natasia M

So remember, no two people are alike. Each person grows differently. Some fast, some slow. It’s okay to look up to other people, but don’t diminish your own growth and put yourself down. Comparison can be good in small doses to motivate and inspire but you are one of a kind and can’t be anyone else. You’ll get there. Just keep going.

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What advice would you give someone? Have you struggled with comparing yourself?

-Sam <3

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