There are so many things we can compare with other people. As an artist, I often compare myself to many other artists. As a YouTuber, I also compare my content and channel with other YouTubers. However, I know this is a mental trap I need to avoid. The art world is not a zero-sum game. Just because someone's work got praised or sold doesn't mean I become less of an artist. And just because someone's YouTube channel is getting more subscribers doesn't mean my channel is losing followers.
It can be disheartening at times. Because as you grow in your artistic skill, you will naturally through different stages of your journey. When you are just a beginner as I was 4 years ago, you were well aware of where and who you are as an artist. You are excited to learn new things and from many other artists. You feel optimistic and pumped to embark on your journey in the artistic land. However, as you progress in your skill and experience you are in a stage of struggle. You now consider yourself as an artist. You have gained some confidence in your skill. Therefore, you naturally put up against hundreds of other artists. You might not do that intentionally to compare to others. But you might do so just to get an idea where you are. Afterall, what better ways to know what level you are than referring to other artists' work? By doing so, you stepped into uncharted territory again. But this time, you might no longer be exciting. Instead, you might be started to doubt yourself.
You asked yourself "Wasn't I in the same stage years ago?". You realized the more you learned and the more you know, the longer the path is ahead of you. You thought you already been through the beginner's stage. You've been working hard to improve and advance in your artistic journey. Only to find yourself back to where you were when you just started. It is very hard and challenging. I know because I've been there, and I actually still going through the same stage occasionally. There are a few things I want to remind you:
- You are not going back to beginners' stage, you are just reaching a milestone!
It might be easy to feel like you are going back to the beginner's stage. But the fact is that you are just reaching the next milestone. Yes, there may be a long road ahead. But if you look back, you can see the footprints you made along the way. And the road you have covered.
- Refer back to your old work.
I've mentioned it before. Keep some of your old works. Don't compare with other artists, but compare with yourself and see your own improvement and progress! Strive to be a better version of yourself. Instead of comparing to other artists.
- Just paint!
This may sound like a cliché, but the best way to get rid of those thoughts is to focus on painting! Don't think about where you are as an artist. Don't compare yourself to others, but just paint. Like a real-life journey, you move forward by taking another step. Just keep going and moving.
The artistic journey isn't easy. It can even be a bit lonely at times. But remember we are all in this together. There is no need to compare with other people. Everyone you meet along the way can be your mentor, friends, students or even your fan.