I was going to touch on this topic in my last post but decided it warranted a post of its own. I have been comparing myself to others for as long as I can remember, and in every aspect of my life. I’m only an expert on myself but I’m pretty sure everyone else has the same problem. If you don’t, please let me know, I’d like to pull your brain apart and figure out how you function . . .
Notice how I called it a problem? It’s a big problem! In a world where we are all unique, how can it possibly make sense for us to be constantly comparing ourselves to the people around us. This just doesn’t compute. Not only does it not compute, it is detrimental because OF COURSE we are not going to compare (to someone we are not meant to compare to!) and therefore our little insecurities (I KNOW we all have those, right?) have a field day and leave us feeling that there might be something wrong with ourselves.
Am I the only one who is frustrated by the lack of sense in this scenario?!
Right on Theo!
Everyone takes pride in something, whether it is a job well done, a parenting win, a finished artwork or composition. I am no different. When I finish an illustration and it turned out exactly how I wanted it to, I am super proud and happy and I can’t wait to share it with everyone. I have a GREAT example of this. For those of you who have read some my previous blog posts you will know that I am entering an illustration competition. I put a lot of thought into my illustration, into the process and the final piece and it turned out exactly how I wanted it to. I absolutely loved my little illustration and was going to send it off straight away but I made a mistake, not one that I can’t come back from, but a mistake none the less. I decided to search Instagram for some of the other entrants as I was curious to see what they had come up with and how our various works compared. I instantly regretted my decision. Some of the other entries were AMAZING and I felt like a failure. I began to question whether I should bother entering mine at all, what was the point? I wasn’t going to win anyway . . .
In some situations, comparisons (similarly to your inner critic) can spur you on to do a better job, but what if you have already put your heart and soul into a drawing and you know you have done the best you can do on this particular project?
Nothings kills your motivation to create faster than comparing yourself to others. I look on Instagram usually a couple of times a day and most of the time it is a source of great inspiration. However, if I’m having an ‘off’ day or I’ve drawn something that I’m not satisfied with I’m more prone to start comparing my work to the work on Instagram as opposed to just enjoying it and learning from it. On these bad days I have learnt to avoid all social media.
Some helpful things to think about when comparing your work to others.
How long have they been drawing/illustrating/painting for? How long have you been at it? It is unrealistic to compare the work of a master artist to your own if you are only new to the game! If you want to compare something, compare something you have drawn recently to something you drew a year or two ago. If you have been working hard at your craft you should notice a significant improvement.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, we are all individuals. We all have different structures, different strengths, different personalities therefore I think it should be obvious that we will all have different brush/pen/pencil strokes, we all use mediums differently and we all have different imaginations. One of the most powerful things we have going for us as artists is that each of us is different. We lose that the second we try to be like someone else. Please don’t try to be like someone else, you have a unique ‘voice’ and the world was meant to hear it . . . Otherwise, what is the freakin’ point of being unique?!
If you feel yourself beginning to fall into the trap of comparing your work to others, SHUT IT DOWN! Unplug, disconnect and walk away. Listen to some music, get out of the house, do something, ANYTHING to get your mind out of that trap. Yes, I’m sure their work is great and your’s may not be up to the same standard, but you created it and if you can own it and say it is 100% yours than you should be proud of creating something completely unique. If you wanna be as good as that other artist one day then you know what you’ve gotta do. WORK FOR IT. You aren’t going to get any better by looking at Instagram and feeling impatient and sorry for yourself. Start drawing something, ANYTHING, draw everyday, practice and you might just get to where you wanna be.
Just make sure that when you get ‘there’ your work is your own. Don’t compromise and meld your work to fit in with what you think the world wants to see. Create what is in you to create and the world will love it, because just like you, it will be unique and genuine, one of a kind.
What about my illustration?
Well, it’s taken me a few days, but I’m pretty sure that I am pretty close to being pretty satisfied with it again. But my joy for it was destroyed the moment I started comparing it. I’m going to send it off today and pray that the judges like it, but if they don’t that’ll be fine too. I know I put everything into it that I had at the time and I can be proud of that.
I’m gonna get a fresh cup of tea, I’ve had to reheat this one too many times already . . .
Stay classy nerds xoxo