still life photography in New York

The Photo Week: Is Comparing Yourself a Good or Bad Idea?

When we begin our journey as an artist, it’s usually sparked by a piece of art that we’ve seen. Whether it was in a museum, on Instagram or at a local art fair – we know the feeling of looking at a piece of work and saying internally “Oh wow this looks beautiful. I want to create something like that.” And poof, we begin!

However I’ve also experienced looking at other artists work and feeling awful afterwards. Not because the work is horrible, but because the work is so great that my work just seems small and bad. I am definitely guilty of wasting hours scrolling through Instagram and feeling so depressed afterwards thinking maybe I’m not good enough. Or why wasn’t I hired to take that photograph? Is my work just bad? Should I just stop? How many of you have gone through that?

This idea of comparison can be a positive thing when you are starting out but it can also be negative when it begin to crush your confidence. So how to we combat this? Where do we draw the line when it comes to comparing our work to others?

A wise artist once told me that no matter what phase your artistic journey is in, every artist (or should I say every human being) is a beginner. There is ALWAYS something new to learn about your medium and if you think everything has already been done – you might be surprised.

It took a while for me to process this because we live in a world where the amount of followers you have dictate whether your work is magnificent or not. We all know how to put up a mask of success when in reality we might feel the same insecure way as the artist who is next to you. All in all when it comes to comparison, I feel like it is great to know what you want to aspire to be but once we have the feeling of doubt and insecurity – that’s our signal to just look away. We need to have a personal pep talk and remind ourselves “Everyone is a beginner. Even that awesome artist that I admire.”

Since this is such a huge topic, I would really like to know your thoughts on this! Have you ever felt crippled by comparison? What do you do when you feel like your work is crap compared to others? Leave a comment below and share some of your experiences.

Til next time – with love,

 

 

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2 Replies

  • I have been in this exact space you mention. Questioning and taking a back seat vis à vis my work. I knew things were a little odd when, after receiving an important commission, I wasn’t my usual euphoric self.

    I think, after a huge year, not in terms of earning, but in terms of learning and exciting commissions, I became a little “burnt out”.

    It’s strange this period of relfection. I find myself visiting art galleries and “dissecting” other artists work and ideas. Currently, I am a “spectator” not a “participator”. I’m working in Parliament in a couple of weeks, let’s hope I find my mojo !

    • I’m sorry you are going through this “funk” but in a way it’s kind of a blessing. You don’t have to put so much pressure and being a spectator might influence you to create something else in the future. Don’t worry you will find your mojo soon enough. Btw – your work is magnificent!!

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