Comparing oneself to others is a common practice among artists, but it can have both positive and negative effects. In this post I will explore the pros and cons of comparison and how it affects artists. Let's begin with the positives:
Inspiration and motivation
Comparing yourself to other artists can provide inspiration and motivation. Seeing the work of other artists can inspire new ideas and push you to improve your own craft. I began a whole new body of work several years ago after seeing an exhibition by Annette Bezor. I was fascinated by the way the background of her images was cracked and fractured and set about experimenting with that idea.
Learning and growth
This led to a period of learning and growth for me as I explored ways of incorporating those ideas into my own work. I experimented with physically scrunching up the canvas and treating the surface in a variety of different ways. You can see the results of this in the painting below.
Comparing oneself to others can also help you to identify areas where you might improve and learn from other artists' techniques and approaches.
Comparison can be healthy when it pushes artists to strive for excellence and explore the limits of their capabilities. This can result in improved quality of work and increased productivity.
The Cons of Comparison:
Self-doubt and insecurity
One of the main problems with comparing yourself to others is that it can lead to self-doubt and insecurity, especially if an artist perceives themselves as inferior to others. This often causes a lack of confidence and hinders an artist's creativity. Unfortunately this is the type of comparison that so many artists indulge in and it is not only unhealthy but can stifle your progress as an artist.
Comparing yourself to others can be unfair, as every artist has their own unique style and creative process. It can create unrealistic expectations and discourage you from embracing your unique individuality which is the core of your creative difference.
Also, constantly comparing yourself to others can lead to a creative block. Artists may feel overwhelmed by their perceived inferiority and struggle to create new work. As an artist you should be aware of the pros and cons of comparison and use it as a tool for learning and growth, rather than a source of anxiety and stress. It is important for artists to focus on their own progress and creative journey, rather than constantly comparing themselves to others. Embracing your individuality and unique fingerprint makes your art special. By focusing on your own strengths and weaknesses, you can create authentic and meaningful work that reflects your personal vision and values.