6 Reasons Why You Should Support Other Artists

Stop being a hater and embrace community over competition.

There are loads of haters out there. When I was in art school, I’m embarrassed to say that I was one of them. It’s easy to hate on other artists. It even feels good sometimes.

When I was in art school, I was insecure and wanted success. Anytime I would see an artist get a better grade on a project I know they didn’t work all that hard on, I’d go into defense mode. “They aren’t even that good,” I’d think.

I had no idea at the time that I was actually doing myself a disservice by being a turd. Luckily, once I got out of school, I shifted my perspective and stopped being a hater. And here’s why you should too:

1. There are enough opportunities for all of us to succeed.

Western culture appreciates “the best”, or “the top” people in a field. Whether it’s grades in school, beauty, athleticism, art skills, or whatever other competitive system you’ve been forced into, we’ve been programmed to think there is someone who is the best, and the rest of us suck. The system says if you are at the top, you should feel good and get all the success. If not, you’re art is bad and you should feel bad.

Well I’m here to tell you that this system is bullsh*t and you don’t need to participate in it to succeed. You don’t need to be the “best” at art to be successful. You don’t need to occupy the #1 spot, because there isn’t just one #1 spot. There’s room for a bunch of us to occupy the same space. Therefor, you don’t need to prevent other artists from being #1 in your head by being a hater.

If there is an artist out there who is trying to do what you do and is doing it better, that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful and that you should dislike them. Another person’s success is not your failure. It will not hurt you or hinder your dreams to support another creator. You should actually befriend those people…

2. We can learn from other artists. Especially the ones who are doing what we dream of.

If you spend your time hating on other creators, you are missing out on learning opportunities to get better at what you do. I’m sure there are people who have seen my work on Instagram and thought “Pffft, I could do that better. I deserve those followers more than she does,” and then they kept scrolling, completely missing out on all of the content I put online to help other artists grow.

If you see an artist killin’ it, your first instinct should be to dissect everything they do and learn from them. Don’t let your ego kick in and tell you that artist isn’t actually all that good and that their success is a fluke.

3. The arts community is frickin’ awesome when you’re in it.

There are quite a few artists I’ve connected with online who have formed a tight-knit support system for each other. Did your resin dry funny? Did a rando insult your very core as an artist on one of your posts? Did you do a show and fail to sell a single thing? We’ve all been there, and when other artists have your back in these situations it feels amazing.

Start a group chat with other artists. Share the good. Share the bad. Support each other. These artist relationships can save us from our inner and outer critics, and encourage us to keep creating.

Plus, nobody quite understands the struggles of being an artist like another artist.

4. Kindness and generosity multiples.

It’s good to be kind and generous for the sake of being kind and generous, BUT it’s also good to be kind and generous because it cultivates a community around you of like minded people who often return the favor. (Just the same as being an a**hole builds a community of a**holes around you.)

When you stop being a hater and start forming relationships with artists, more opportunities are presented to you. So be the energy you want to have in your life. The person you present to the world is a beacon that shines bright and calls to the other people with the same energy.

5. We give each other business.

Ever have someone ask for something really outside of your style for a commission? Rather than torturing yourself to change everything you do to make a little money, send that customer to the artist you know who already does it naturally.

I’ve referred multiple potential customers to other creatives in my life that are naturally a better fit for a project. I’ve also had other artists send opportunities my way like local events, calls for art, commissions, interviews, social campaigns, and much more. If I were mean to other artists, do you really think they’d want to give me business? Probably not.

6. Your art and your brand will always be unique.

Lastly, and probably most importantly: There isn’t a single artist out there who actually poses a threat to your business, because nobody can be what you are. Artists create work that are extensions of themselves. When you build your brand as an artist, you aren’t just offering a product. You are offering a piece of yourself. So unless you have an identical personality clone out there who also makes the same exact art, you really don’t have competition in your field.

Your audience can pick up on the nuances between your brand and another artist. You may think you’re selling art, but you’re selling yourself. And you my friend have something unique that others can’t replicate. Embrace your story and only ever be in competition with yourself.

***

Don’t be a hater. Be kind and generous. Share opportunities. Support your fellow artists. I promise you, it’s much more fulfilling than the alternative. And if you ever want help in figuring out exactly what your brand is an artist, check out my coaching services.

So, did I convince you to embrace community over competition? Leave your questions and comments below while commenting is open or reach out to me directly through Instagram or email. I’d love to hear from you!

-Kelly

And now it’s your turn to support me: I want to keep creating content like this for free, but I need your help. If you enjoy my blogs and gain any inspiration from the content I put out there, please consider becoming a Patron of Messy Ever After on Patreon. Pledging just $1 a month enables me to keep helping artists like you. Plus, you get extra little perks like phone wallpapers!

Further Reading:

How to Tame Your Inner Critic

A Guide for Creatives

All artists and creators have that little voice in our head that we swear is trying to destroy us. It chips away at our confidence with little digs like:

“I’m not as good as the other artists.”

“What if I fail?”

“I really suck at this.”

Even the most successful artists have an inner critic. None of us are immune to negative thoughts. In my opinion, these negative thoughts are actually beneficial in some ways, but if you aren’t careful and control your inner critic, that little asshole can prevent you from pursuing any of your dreams.

Since I have battled with my inner critic for years, I wanted to share with you how I finally tamed it. Now you can too.

1.Realize that you have control over your thoughts.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could somehow make our brains only think happy thoughts? Over the years, I met really optimistic people and wondered how they could be so positive. I assumed their brains were just wired to exclude negativity. As I’ve gotten older, I realized positive thoughts are a choice, and believing in yourself is a choice. It’s not that I needed a different brain. I needed to train and control the one I have.

Your thoughts are actions. Thinking positive or negative thoughts can be the same as taking a walk or eating an apple. Your thoughts are mental actions and your brain is a muscle that can be strengthened. Positive thoughts are a behavior and you have a choice in how you think. I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m saying you can gain control of your mind, but it takes discipline.

Once you realize you have control of your mind, taming your inner critic is possible.

2. Understand that success doesn’t make your inner critic disappear.

You have to stop waiting for success to feel good about yourself.

In the past, I thought if I could just prove to myself that I could succeed that I would develop confidence and finally be rid of my inner critic. If I can prove I’m good at what I do, then I’d have permission to believe I can succeed. This seems logical, but it’s a recipe for misery and it gives our inner critic more fuel.

We torture ourselves when we wait for proof and permission to believe we can succeed. You have to believe you can succeed right now and you don’t need proof. Your inner critic will be there through success and failure if you let it.

3. Acknowledge that your inner critic is a shitty best friend that can be trained.

Imagine you were training for a 5k with your best friend. You got up every morning, put on running shoes, and jumped on side-by-side treadmills. Now, imagine that best friend was muttering this to you the whole time:

“We’re never going to be able to run a 5k. You’ve never done it before. What makes you think it’s possible now? Look at you. You can’t even run a mile. Obviously you’re not going to last. You haven’t proven you can do it. We’re out of shape. Those people over there run way better than us.”

Would you tolerate a friend doing this to you? You’d probably be thinking that your friend is too negative and maybe you should train with someone else. But, we let our inner critics do this to us ALL THE TIME and we can’t get away from them. So, I started to see my inner critic as a friend that I needed to teach better manners. Don’t just ignore it or tell it to shut up.

Figure out why your inner critic was saying such negative things and have a conversation with it. “Hey, dude. Why you gotta be so negative all the time?”

4. Realize your inner critic is just trying to keep you safe.

Our inner critics are trying to keep us from harm. Your negative best friend actually has good intentions. Whether it’s mental harm or physical harm, that little voice is meant to slow you down a little so you can assess the possible risks in whatever action you are about to take.

When you feel your inner critic start to speak when you are in a creative space, acknowledge the things it is trying to protect you from like failure, humiliation, not fitting in, not being good enough, etc.. Then tell it that there really is no danger. If you fail, then you try again. If your art sucks, then you practice some more. If you get made fun of, you brush it off.

When it comes to art and creativity, your inner critic is speaking out of turn. When it comes to dreaming that you can fly by jumping out of an airplane naked, your inner critic has a really good point when it speaks up and says “Hey, I don’t think this is going to work.” This is what I was talking about before when I said negative thoughts can be beneficial.

Be nice to your inner critic. It’s afraid and it’s just trying to keep you from taking a risk that may cause both of you harm.

5. Know that your inner critic doesn’t have the answers.

Your inner critic is afraid of all of the possible ways you can get hurt, but do not under any circumstances assume that your inner critic knows the truth or the future. It doesn’t have the answers. It only has doubts, fears, and questions.

Simple as that.

6. You are not your inner critic. You have many voices.

Your brain is made up of many voices and skill sets. You have an inner critic, and you have an inner optimist. You have an inner artist, dreamer, creator, logician, and more. You have all of these different voices and layers that make you who you are. You get to choose which voice has the microphone depending on the situation you are in.

When your inner critic gets loud, turn to the optimist and the dreamer. Ask it what good will come from this situation. Ask it what the worst case scenarios are. See your art and your creative process through the optimist’s perspective.

Both your inner critic and your optimist have valid points, but once you have evaluated your inner critic doesn’t need to protect you from anything, then you shouldn’t give its opinions more power. Listen to it, acknowledge its worries, and then let the other parts of you speak up.

7. Remember there are no mistakes when it comes to art.

Your inner critic means well, but it will only hold you back if you give it too much power while you are creating. You may try new things and get a different outcome than you expected, but “mistake” isn’t the right word when creating.

I’m going to channel Bob Ross here: “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.”

***

And that is how I tamed my inner critic. She is still in my mind. She lets me know what I’m afraid of and always lets me know when I am approaching the edge of my comfort zone. But, I don’t hold resentment towards her. She is a part of me and it’s my job to tell her that we cannot let fear hold us back.

Training your mind takes a lot of patience and hard work. If you have a strong and vocal inner critic right now, it will take some time to soothe it and allow the other parts of you to speak up. But it’s completely possible to live in harmony with your inner critic.

I hope this post was helpful, but if you are looking for a little extra support, feel free to check out my coaching services. Please leave questions and comments below while commenting is open or reach out to me
directly through Instagram or email. I’d love to hear from you!

-Kelly

Want to see more content like this? If you enjoy my blogs and gain any inspiration from the content I put out there, please consider becoming a Patron of Messy Ever After on Patreon. Pledging just $1 a month enables me to keep doing what I do. Plus, you get extra little perks like phone wallpapers! I have added two new tiers that include discounts to consulting services and one-on-one email support to help you with your art goals.

Further Reading:

The Best Advice for Artists

11 Truths and Tips from One Artist to Another.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m the creator behind @messyeverafter on Instagram. I make art for a living. (Yup, it’s totally possible to do this.)

I’m going to pass on some advice that I wish someone would have told me 10 years ago when I first thought about being a professional artist. Then again, I probably would have ignored all of this advice because I was stubborn and thought I knew everything. C’est la vie!

Here are 11 things I have learned during my time in the art world. Feel free to ignore any and all points just as my past self would have done.

1. Don’t create art just to make money.

Create art to feed your soul. To express yourself. To find peace. To make change. To comfort yourself. To disrupt society. Create art because if you didn’t make art you would be incomplete. Don’t make art with the primary goal to make money.

Your art should always come first. If you can figure out how to make money after your art fulfills its primary duties, then more power to you!
Usually, when you need money, you need it fast. A creative career takes a while to get moving. You might not actually make money off it for years.

Sure, others may thrive off of financial pressure to create, but for me and many others it can stifle creativity. 10 years ago, I put pressure on my art to pay my bills and it made me so miserable and defeated that I stopped creating for a while.

When your art doesn’t pay the bills, it can become a disappointment to you. Remove that financial burden from your creativity.

2. Make the art that you want to make.

At some point in your artistic journey, you will hear comments from others trying to nudge you to change what you’re doing. You’ll get it from people with good intentions or bad intentions. People who know nothing about the art world, and even people intimately tied to it like professional art instructors.

Everybody has their own vision for what art should look like. If you’re going to be an artist, make the art that you want to make, not what your art teacher or Jim from down the street wants (unless they are paying you).

Show us your vision, and ignore the naysayers.

3. Someone will always hate your art.

You can’t please everyone. You literally can’t. If you try, you’ll lose your sense of self.

I’ve seen people hate on incredibly technical works of art, and I’ve seen people gush over the simplest of compositions. I’ve gotten my fair share of negative comments on my art. And you know what? Now I just laugh, because I’m not making art to please others. I’m making art that speaks to me.

4. Someone will always love your art.

Your audience is waiting for you. Right now it might just be your mom, and that’s okay. I promise you that your art will be appreciated by the right people. It takes time to find them, but if you are making art that fulfills you, it will speak to others as well.

So ignore the silence you may experience when you first show your art to the world. Keep creating and keep putting your work out there.

5. You don’t need to go to art school.

I don’t want to get deep into how flawed the United States education system is, but the fact that schools give out art degrees that leave a student tens of thousands of dollars in debt without a solid career that can earn enough to pay the loans back is just nonsensical.

I’m not saying school is bad. You do need to learn how to be a skilled artist, but you don’t need a degree and you don’t need to go into debt. There are a lot of free or cheap ways to learn how to be an artist.

Art school is good for things like meeting new people, becoming part of a community, and being forced to step out of your comfort zones. But ultimately, you don’t need a degree to get a job as an artist. Especially if you do what I do and become your own boss. Boss me doesn’t give a sh*t about my degree. Boss me is wishing I would have majored in accounting instead. (Taxes, am I right?)

6. Be nice to yourself.

Don’t let your inner critic dominate your thoughts. I spent years questioning if I could make it as an artist. I even spent a couple of years vehemently saying “I’M NOT AN ARTIST!” I can say with 100% certainty that those thoughts did nothing positive in my life or my art career.

If you don’t believe in yourself, you’re standing in your own way. You have to build your internal sense of confidence about what you create. You can’t constantly cut yourself down if you don’t like where your technical skills are, and you can’t rely on others to tell you your art is good.

Be nice to yourself and be your own cheerleader.

7. Nobody cares about your art.

Yet.

It’s not personal. There are a lot of talented artists already on the scene vying for attention. Don’t get offended when people don’t pay attention to what you’re doing. It doesn’t mean your art doesn’t have value. It’s that the other artists are louder and better at marketing themselves. (Read: Nobody wants your art.)

You have to show people why they should pay attention to you and your art. Which is also why you need to believe in yourself.

8. You are a product.

I’ve never liked being around a lot of people or being the center of attention. I’m an introvert who nervous-sweats when I have to speak. Naturally, in the beginning I thought being an artist would give me the freedom to sit behind the scenes and let my art speak for itself. Nope.

So. Wrong.

When you are an artist, you are a product to sell just as much as your art is. Your story, your voice, your style, your face, your personality, your quirks, fears, and more become reasons why people will pay attention to what you create and ultimately give you money.

9. Being an artist isn’t easy.

Being a creative person doesn’t mean living in dreamland your whole life. It is actually living through cycles of internal torture that look a little like this:

“I have a great idea! This will look so cool! Omg, this sucks. Why do I suck? No, wait. I think it’s okay. It’s finished. Oh, look at that really talented artist over there? Maybe I should just give up. Crap, how’d my bank account get so low? I have a great idea!” and repeat. Oh and then add on the other things like marketing, accounting, taxes, social media, etc..

I dreamed of making a living from creativity since I can remember. This career path fulfills me, but in the beginning I didn’t realize how arduous it would be to gain momentum. This is why “Don’t create art just to make money” is my #1 piece of advice. Passion will fuel you to move forward when you’re not getting the results you imagined. It’s not going to be easy, but it might be the best challenge you’ve ever accepted.

10. Don’t compare yourself to others.

It’s a fricken trap. Honestly, there will always be another artist out there who has all the things you want. They are talented. They are eloquent. They have celebrity clients. They have more success. They probably even have flawless skin and that #blessed vibe.

Busting out an old cliche here, but the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. When you compare yourself to any person, you are comparing yourself to fiction. Take me for example. If you only know me through my Instagram, you only know one version of me as an artist. You see what I want you to see. You don’t see my flaws unless I let you.

Only compare yourself to who you were yesterday. You’re not going to ‘win’ anything if you compare yourself to others and find out you’re ahead. Most of the time, you’ll just get sad by seeing that others have what you want, and then that sadness will distract you from kicking ass.

Stop scrolling, and…

11. Just make art.

Go pick up a brush. Start making a mess.

Don’t waste too much time thinking about creating. Create. If you want to be an artist, make art. Sometimes it actually is that easy.

***

What about you? Do you have any advice for other artists? I’d love to hear from you, so please leave questions or comments below while commenting is open or reach out to me directly through Instagram or email.

Or, if you are an artist and you’re looking for a little guidance to get started with your career, check out my consulting services. My schedule is limited, but I’m always happy to help other artists.

-Kelly

Shameless Plug: If you enjoy my blogs and gain any inspiration from the content I put out there, please consider becoming a Patron of Messy Ever After on Patreon. Pledging just $1 a month enables me to keep doing what I do. Plus, you get extra little perks like phone wallpapers! I have added two new tiers that include discounts to consulting services and one-on-one email support to help you with your art goals.

Further Reading: