Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Inferiority Complex: Smash It With A Blunt, Heavy Mental Object

Have you ever looked at another artist's work and felt utterly incompetent? Ever compared your work to another's and wondered why you even bother to draw, paint or engage in any creative endeavor? I have. Especially early on in my career.

I keep a long mental list of artists whose work I find so astounding, so completely disarming, so moving in every aspect that I've often wondered why I feel remotely qualified to pick up a brush, a pencil or any other tool that might tempt me to create. I won't name those artists here for fear you may look them up and realize, yes, Dustin is a hack. Instead, I mention this only to remind you (and myself) that at some point, most artists do feel inadequate in their artistic endeavors (at least nearly all of the artists I've spoken with on the subject), and this is especially true if we wrongly measure the merits of our work against others who's work we admire.

Having now been a full-time artist for 8 years (really not that long, I know), I understand that success comes in many, many forms, and sometimes we as artists are unable to see success in our own work — especially if we are constantly comparing our work to others. I realized that if I can look back on the body of work I've created and see tangible improvement — improvement in draftsmanship, improvement in fundamental artistic principles, and most importantly, improvement in defining my own personal artistic style — then that is success.

Comparing one’s own work to the work of other artists can certainly play an important role in learning and growing as an artist. I’ve often found there is no better teacher than in studying the work of other artists. But remember, don’t measure your success as an artist against theirs. It’s a dangerous place to be mentally and will do nothing but stifle your artistic growth.

Smash those feelings of inadequacy with a big mental hammer and get back to enjoying what ever it is you’re creating!

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