Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Artist Envy: A Dangerous Concoction


If you have a lot of friends who are artists, good for you. You are surrounding yourself with people from your tribe and these people will share many common threads. Many will know what it's like to do a 36-hour day in order to meet a deadline, or will know what it's like to really feel the need to finish a portfolio. Others might be able to commiserate with you on your artist's block, or maybe they can provide you with useful tips on new techniques or supplies.

However, having lots of artist friends can be a bit of a drainer as well. While you have many similarities, perhaps you have too many similarities. Perhaps you both submitted to a gallery and only one of you ever heard back, or maybe one of you got a part in a play but no one else did.

We'll admit it, it's hard to be happy for someone who got what you wanted. After all, we have our own unique needs and wants. So today, we want to talk about managing artist envy.

Envy, used properly, can be a great motivational tool. If you see an artist achieving what you want for yourself, it's only natural to feel envy. If you use that feeling to push yourself to do the work and to take your own work to the next level, then great! View the other person as an inspiration that you're striving for and work towards your dreams. Most likely, if you ask, that person will even try to help you to achieve what they already have. After all, awesome people are willing to share their secrets, especially with people who want to get where they already are. Think about it: awesome people are always looking to become bigger and better, so they're very receptive to helping you get to where they are right now.

However, if used improperly, envy can be destructive and totally no bueno. If you look at that other artist as an opponent or an obstacle, then you've already cut them off as a source of knowledge and aid. Additionally, you're creating a negative mindset that not everyone can achieve their goals. Once this becomes your mantra, every time you don't get what you want, it will be a defeat, which you'll brood on, probably causing more defeats. Also, you may become inspired to use underhanded methods like lying or manipulating or stealing or other not-so-good behaviors to get what you want. And once you get known for being underhanded, people won't want to partner up with you. You've now committed to getting there by yourself, and like we've said before, you can't get anywhere alone.

When you realize that the better person you are, the more people are willing to help you out. When we ask for advice from other artists, it is our policy to make sure that we take advantage of the help they've given us, and let them know how much they've helped us along. That is why it's important to see others succeeding as not only friends who are doing well, but also as valuable sources of tips and tricks and advice.

You may be asking what you can do for your friend, if they're giving you such valuable advice and relating their own experiences to you. Well, you can start by following their advice and making sure they know how much you've helped them. And who knows? Maybe some day you'll be in a position to recommend them to another studio, or maybe you'll come across a great opportunity that's not right for you but would be right for them. Return the favor and I guarantee you'll soon have a circle of artists that you can count on to go to bat for you.

So be generous. Be happy for your artist friends who are succeeding, and they will be happy for you in return. Create a community of creative collaboration where everyone is working to help each other obtain their dreams! Believe us - there is always room for one more.

3 comments:

nerd JERK said...

hehe In addition to loving this post so much (as I've tried to not get jealous of super successful peeps), I love that you've tagged this post with "No Asshole Rule"! ;D

I'm always grateful for the great advice you all give on your blog & how I can really relate to your posts because I'm an artist struggling with the same issues.

Thank you!

- Steph

Unknown said...

I especially loved your statement that "you can't get anywhere alone". Good reminder and caveat.

Always love your posts. Thanks, fellow artists, for the love ; )

Maria

Rick Kitagawa said...

Hey Steph, thanks for stopping by! Yes, part of this post is making sure that our readers don't act like jerks, and thus fall under the sad No-Asshole rule. Glad we can help!

Hi Maria, thanks for reading! Glad you found something good in there! Thanks again!