Although I’ve probably written about this topic ages ago, I thought that I’d take another look at why it’s so foolish to compare yourself to other artists.
This was mostly prompted by seeing a couple of art pages on Instagram and then thinking that my own daily art was somehow “less spontaneous” or “less inspired” or whatever by comparison. Then I remembered a few of the reasons why it’s foolish to compare yourself to other artists:
1) Different artists do different things better: Everyone has their preferred production style when it comes to making art.
Some artists are at their best when they produce light and whimsical drawings every week. Some artists need the motivation of a daily schedule. Some artists are at their best when making hyper-realistic traditional paintings that can take months to complete. Some artists like to keep their art “traditional” and some like to use digital post-production. Some artists like to make minimalist art that looks like it was made in five minutes (but probably took considerably longer). Some artists like to post pretty much everything they make online (and some only show off their best and most inspired paintings or drawings).
There’s no universal “right” or “wrong” way to make drawings or paintings. Like with pretty much everything in this world, different things work best for different people. If you compare yourself to another artist and feel terrible because you don’t make art in the exact same way that they do, then ask yourself why you make art in the way that you do. There’s a good chance that you have your own personal reasons for making the art that you do.
Maybe you prefer to relax and take your time? Maybe you need the motivation of a regular schedule? Maybe you have a favourite art medium? Maybe you have a favourite genre of art? Maybe you like to experiment with different types of art? Only you know the answers to these questions and many more.
Chances are, if you try to copy someone else’s production style, then you’re just setting yourself up for failure. After all, the artist that you’re comparing yourself to chose that particular style because it worked for them. Chances are, it might not work for you. So, make the kind of art that you enjoy making in a way that is right for you.
2) You’ve still got to practice: It can be very easy to look at the work of another artist and feel dispirited because your own art doesn’t look anywhere near as good as their art does. The thing to remember is that this exact thing has probably also happened to the artist that you’re feeling jealous about.
I’ve said this before, but it’s a universal truth that there will always be people better than you and people worse than you out there. Everyone is somewhere in the middle.
But, the thing to remember when you see something by a better artist is that they’ve probably just had more practice than you have. What you might see as “talent” is probably just 10% “natural talent” and 90% practice. And, the more you practice, the better your own art will become. Yes, this might happen very gradually – but it will happen if you keep practicing.
So, if you see a drawing or a painting by a better artist, then don’t feel defeated, deflated or dispirited by it. See it as something to aim towards. See it as an example of what can happen if you keep up your art practice for another few years. Just remember, even the most “talented” artists probably made crappy art before they really decided to focus on making art and practicing regularly. The only difference is that you probably haven’t seen their crappier early works, but they almost certainly exist!
3) Taking inspiration is better than feeling jealous: It’s ok to be amazed by the work of other artists. In fact, it’s part of how you become an artist. Every artist that might make you feel jealous has probably been awed and amazed by the work of other artists. But, instead of spending too long feeling jealous, they’ve done the sensible thing and taken inspiration instead.
Although I’ve written a longer article about how to take inspiration properly, the thing to remember is that inspiration doesn’t mean just copying another artist’s style. Yes, some degree of copying (from sight, not by tracing!) can be a useful form of private practice. But, the only reason you should do this is to learn some of the techniques that your favourite artists use, so that you can apply those techniques to your own art in new and original ways.
In fact, this is how you develop your own unique art style – by learning techniques from lots of different artists. However, you won’t do this if you spend too much time feeling jealous towards more experienced artists, instead of trying to learn how they make their art and adding their best techniques to your own.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂