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?
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! Make sure to sign up for my email list below to never miss a blog post. New posts are published every week (kind of). And if you’d like to see more content like this in the future, consider becoming a Patron of mine!
P.S. You probably know by now that I am here to help artists with these posts. If you need help with your online branding, Instagram account, or just want a creative accountability coach, then check out my consulting services. You can easily add a session to my online calendar now.