I may as well give up!
Updated: Feb 19
I was asked this week, as part of my Ask Me Anything Monday live chat on Instagram, "When you see other artist's work it can be very down heartening as they are clearly excellent at their craft. How do people get past this? How do you find your mojo and, indeed, your own style?"
I sat and pondered.
I know this feeling. Looking at the beautiful work of other artists, often not just those of the greats, but especially that of our peers and feeling that initial WOW moment, followed by a heavy, sinking feeling. I will never be able to paint/create that. It feels like that's all you would ever want in life...to be that person, to create that work. We are not them, we never will be. Their work is so stunning we feel demoralised. "I may as well give up!"
Classic "Compare and Despair"
We CAN change this. We can actively choose to change our reaction. Shift to "Compare and Inspire". When I feel this, I think, "OK, what is it that I especially love or connect to in this work?" Why do I love it, what is it that I am reacting to? What one small thing could I take from it and experiment with? Perhaps it is the technique, the composition, the contrasts, the patterns, the colour palette, or the lack of stuff....the minimalism of the work,
Take ONE thing and go give it a whirl! Play, explore and experiment. You may find something that you really love, that really adds something to your work in your own unique way. Or you may hate it! Be gentle with yourself. We are often, as adults, not good at being a beginner again. It's hard, it's uncomfortable, frustrating and often nerve-wracking! What else in life do you REALLY expect to be great at immediately?!
Also try to remember that we often have no idea how that person got to where they are in their artistic journey. You are on your own journey and perhaps they are just MUCH further along than us. And remember, not only are they unique, so are YOU. No one else can be you, or make your art. You may try to work in a similar way to the person you admire, it will and should come out differently. This is your own style.
And trust me, if you keep doing the things in your creative work that you love (stop doing the things you don't love) and try a little of the slightly scary stuff (you know me and how I believe that fear points us at the important things!) your own style will naturally emerge. It can't be forced. It finds it's own way through and out of you into your art.
Other people will tell you that they love your style when you had no idea that you even have one. Your unique style is like your signature, it's what you think looks like a signature, that you can't do any other way, it just happens.
So I say, relax, accept that you are on your own journey. Allow others to inspire you, to learn from. Play and explore to work out what you like and what you don't and there, in amongst all that will be your mojo, your very own style, looking back at you!
So please....DON'T give up...Get busy instead...and Enjoy!