Since I’ve taken a break from my art, and finished my exhibition, I feel this little twinge each time I go on Instagram and spot another artist making work I admire.
Sometimes, it’s a wee bit of jealousy, like I wish I had thought of that. Other times, I look at their skill and it makes me wonder about my own.
Have you ever caught yourself in the game of comparison?
Hi my name is Carrie and here on Artist Strong I help artists like you build your skill and develop your unique artist voice. Today I want to talk about the problem of comparison and how being uncomfortable is actually a necessary part of the artist journey.
Lately, I’ve been applying and applying to shows, grants, exhibitions, you name it and I’ve been rejected from every single thing I’ve applied to for my art since my solo exhibition. It really stings. But here’s the thing. Some of the applications have been for art that was part of that solo show, that won a grant. So while intrinsically I know the work has worth, it’s also been externally validated too.
That doesn’t stop me from scrolling through Instagram lately wondering when I’m going to “make it.”
Sometimes, we can create benchmarks or goals and think, “once THIS happens, I know everything will be better.” But each and every time we hit a new goal or new level of success, we often forget to celebrate where we’ve been and how hard we’ve worked to get where we are currently.
Part of the problem is our human nature to avoid discomfort. We like being comfortable. It’s easier. It feels good. It doesn’t require a ton of emotional or physical energy.
But. Here’s the kicker. The ONLY way to grow, the only way to continue to uplevel, the only way to build skill is to get uncomfortable.
There are lots of ways to expand outside of your comfort zone. YOU know what it feels like when you feel challenged. If you always choose easy things to work on, you will plateau in your ability as an artist. This is okay if you are satisfied to be where you are. But if you aren’t, maybe it’s time to listen to that inner artist acting up when you see someone’s work in your feed.
And when we do feel that twinge of discomfort from comparing ourselves to others: this is information.
We can transform this from something that makes us feel insecure, or down about our own growth and success, into an empowered action.
Ask yourself: what triggers you about the artist? What is it you wish you could do or have that they have? Take some time to reflect and really be honest with yourself here. For me, it’s usually about skill level. Sometimes it’s about sales.
The good news is those are all things I can choose to do something about.
Let’s pause here a moment to thank today’s sponsor. This post from Artist Strong is brought to you by The Artist Strong Studio, our community of patrons who believe in and wish to support this community. You can become part of the Artist Strong Studio for a small monthly commitment as low as 1 dollar a month. To learn more visit https://www.patreon.com/ArtistStrong.
A special thank you to current patrons, I couldn’t do this work without your support.
Now it’s your turn: if you are feeling brave, tell us what’s behind that twinge of discomfort you feel and what you can do about it! Let’s get this conversation started in the comments below.
Thank you for watching and I’ll see you next time on Artist Strong.