5 Ways to Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Artists

Here are 5 practical strategies you can use to keep away the toxic thinking that comes along with comparing yourself to other artists. This process can be harmful to your ability as an artist to create and stay motivated.

40 min. video

Especially with social media it’s very common to feel like all of the artists you see are perfectly confident in their artistic style, know exactly what they are doing all the time, and never make failed artworks.

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Discussion led by Art Prof Clara Lieu and Teaching Artist Jordan McCracken-Foster.

Jordan McCracken-Foster

Video Walkthrough

  • All artists compare themselves to other artists, regardless of age and experience.
  • Artists you look up to can be an inspiration, but it can also be discouraging to see how accomplished they are.
Tip #1: Carve your own place as an artist
  • You can carve your own place in the world as an artist.
  • There is no contest for who is the “best” artist.
  • There are no specific standards you have to achieve to be an artist.
  • There are many opportunities today to create your own projects.
  • You don’t have to compete with other artists to be valid.
Tip #2: What can I say as an artist, that no one else can talk about?
  • Your life experiences matter.
  • Ask yourself what you enjoy, chances are others will too.
  • Prof Lieu’s experience with an artist at art school whose technique far surpassed her painting ability.
  • Everyone has their own unique experience that no one else can have.
Tip #3: Progress isn’t linear
  • Growth is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Your artwork will not get better, better, better.
  • Late bloomers: Stan Lee created Spider-Man when when he was 40.
  • It’s never too late to get started with a project.
Tip #4: Share your art in a small group chat
  • Create a small group chat, with trusted friends to share your art.
  • You know your friends will be there to boost you.
  • Instagram often feels like a competition and instills anxiety.
  • Often getting zero reaction on Instagram hurts more than mean comments on your artwork.
Tip #5: Artists hide their doubt and anxiety
  • Artists generally don’t admit to having doubt, anxiety , and failure online in a public place.
  • This creates the illusion of being an artist who only creates amazing, finished artworks.,
  • This illusion is a disservice to younger artists who are comparing themselves to an impossible standard.

Prof Lieu’s Tips

Clara cartoon

So many artists put immense pressure on themselves, whether it’s to create strong work, develop terrific ideas, to be more productive, etc. I think we are much tougher on ourselves than anyone else possibly could be!

Clara Lieu
Watercolor in Utah: Widstoe Cemetery

One thing that drove me crazy about art school was needing to constantly pump our projects on a weekly basis.

While that gave me good training in terms of getting work done, in terms of thinking more deeply and comprehensively about my work and what I wanted to do, there really was no time for that. Ideas really take time and need the space to marinate.

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