#lifelessons [3] (For artists) – A Few thoughts about artistic comparison.

Do compare your work with that of others

Why do I say this when almost all self-help books tell you “not to compare yourself with others?”
Simple, you are already comparing yourself as well as your work with the creative products of other people.

Personally I think it is impossible to work within a certain field and not look at “what everyone else is doing.”
That being said, comparison without perspective can create a tremendous amount of pressure.

Be very wary of always looking at “the best” artwork at the extreme end of the scale.
Bear in mind that the art you consider to be “the best” might not necessarily be best suited for a specific purpose.
Let’s suppose you are creating a few simple line-sketches to illustrate a workflow process.
You might look at your art and reckon that it looks dull and drab in comparison with the dazzling colours and images within a lifelike drawing.
Then do your utmost to remind yourself that your current artwork was created with a completely different purpose in mind.
If you understand the context within which you are working you should be fine.

If everyone only enjoyed photo-realistic paintings there would’ve been no scope for the likes of Van Gogh, Mondrian or Picasso to produce their own kind of art.
I believe there is a niche for every style out there.
If line sketches are your thing, excel in that area.
Should you wish to become a master of the abstract or surreal, just go for it.
Create that which interests you.

You could be the person who injected new life into a less-popular genre.
Perhaps you are the artist who invents a new genre.

I’ve seen so many painters who got onto the “this is popular and currently selling” bandwagon.
They look around and see their peers sell paintings of rabbits holding umbrellas.
Pretty soon the market is flooded with paintings of furry critters holding umbrellas of every shape and size.

Do look around you and conduct some research though.
If you are in the process of making a comic with a cat as main character be aware that there are many such comics in play.
This is where “comparison” can be “market research”.
If you do proceed with going the “cat comic” route then least differentiate your work in a way that makes your own personality and artistic quirks shine through.
Compare in order to differentiate, and not to imitate.

Steering your artistic endeavour is a little bit like navigating a ship through treacherous waters.
One the one side you will notice art that seems inferior to yours, on the other side you will notice efforts that are far superior to your work.
In the middle of it all you need to focus on your own work, while remaining aware of what is around you.
This is just “how it is”, we all do it, we can’t always work on an island devoid of other humans.
We compare, and often it worries us to death!

If you can manage to be inspired by that which surpasses your skill you will improve.
Look at the art that you perceive as being less advanced than yours and remember to be thankful that you’ve already improved your own skills.
Never be condescending though, admire everyone who strives to create art.
Learn to notice how many fresh ideas can be seen in the work of those who are just starting out.
An accomplished artist is one who teaches but never forgets how to learn.

The “incomplete statue” in the this cartoon might not be such a common theme. But I reckon it does say something about each artist’s perception of what actually constitutes “good art.”




The cartoony version of DC Comic’s “Starfire” was something I did even after I “looked around me” and saw countless variations of this theme.
It didn’t stop me from sketching this, my own version a few years ago.
Even if everyone else did it, I still had fun… that is what mattered then.
That is what matters now.

TLR – 2018