A few weeks ago, I was approached by a local organization here in Bakersfield, CA that I absolutely love [The Gathering Table], to share my experience and perspective on competition in this artistic industry. Read the interview here [Interview with The Gathering Table about Art and Competition]! The funny thing was that, this same blog was already in my cue of blogs so I had already been processing these very questions they asked me.
I’m going to share a little bit with you about how I feel about competition and creative process.
- We are artists, and our work actually means something to us.
- I want you to remember this. I often hear other artists talking negatively about each other. They have something to say about the way others are choosing to do their work. I feel it’s unfair, at any level, we need to remember that we are all trying to figure this thing out. We are all trying to pursue this burning curiosity to explore our art. That looks so different to each person. How we go about navigating that is a personal choice and journey. I feel we should respect each other the most because we should all understand just how much this means to us.
- Use social media wisely.
- Social media is a huge target of insecurity and competition. We secretly spy on one another but God forbid they even know that we’re looking. But then we COMPARE. And comparison kills. I’ve learned that comparison is the enemy of any artist…why? Because if you compare you can only feel two ways….either discouraged or prideful, and neither is good. It isn’t good to feel discouraged in your work and feel like you’re not good enough, it stumps you from creating! It also isn’t good that you feel prideful, because no one should feel better than someone else. We are all guilty of one or the other when comparing ourselves to other artist or comparing our work to others.
- Know yourself: Know how much of this instagram communication you can handle. I love social media. I love jumping in, and interacting, but I have to be careful. I seldom go into other peoples’ feed-I’ve found out that it sidetracks me from my own vision and direction.
- Social media can allow you to over process. I don’t like to over process, it clutters my mind from my own creative process. I like to have a clear mind of what I want and how I’m going to achieve it. Sometimes I find myself lost in social media for an hour and then think…what was I doing in here in the first place? Then I’m totally lost on my workflow. So I turn it off.
- Work for it!
- We often compare our work with others’. We try to figure out why they can do the things we struggle to do ourselves. I grew up with a single mother of seven kids, and excuses were never in our family talk. She just had to make it work. She had no excuses, no time to complain—she just worked! She did what she had to do to succeed and position her children for a better life. I believe we spend too much time trying to figure out why someone can do something that we cannot. So, if it’s important to you, work for it! If it matters, work for it! Stop making excuses, and work twice as hard as anyone else, and you will find yourself in a better situation. You won’t have time to complain about what others are doing. At the end of the day, we can only complain about what we did not choose to do to better for ourselves and our businesses. There are good days and bad days, but there is no need to quit. As a mom, I understand that our greatest efforts sometimes do not suffice. However, I don’t make excuses—I trust that better days are ahead and keep working.
- You win some, you lose some.
- I live in a “small town,” so coming to terms with “who you are” as a photographer is important because there is so much competition. When you realize who you are, you come to terms with the fact that you are not for everyone, and that’s okay! I had to grow into that. I realized I wanted to work with people who really wanted to work with me. When I don’t book someone, and they end up booking with someone else (especially someone I know), I just think, “It’s okay! They weren’t for me, and I can now rejoice with my friends who are also winning!”
- Look inside and not around.
- When people look around for inspiration, it is easy to get caught up in the comparison game. We spend too much time being influenced by others instead of taking the time to look inside of ourselves and find the treasure within. Take some time alone. Get to know what you like and what you don’t like. Accept who you are, and become that person. Everything about your work will change. You won’t feel competitive because you’re in full form of your true self. There is no duplicate of YOU in this entire world!
- Go back to your core. Your WHY. Stay in your lane.
- When I’m in a funk and I’m not feeling like myself, that is my worst place as a creative. In those moments, I stop my mind from thinking about work completely. I’ll take as many days as necessary to connect with my core, my why, again. I typically spend a lot of time with my husband and kids. I go outside and out of town with no intention of taking a single photo or “thinking business.” I spend a lot of time with God in these seasons, realigning myself to who I am and what I’ve been called to do. I remember WHY I’m doing this. When I feel the nudge to get back in and sense my creative wheels returning, I dive back in. I don’t rush this process. I just let it unfold.
- Some healthy competition is good.
- When another artist raises the bar, you become inspired to push yourself. As a creative, we should never become comfortable. Even though competition is frustrating at times, it can cause us to move out of our comfort zones and grow.
In closing. This competition stuff is REAL! But steady your heart always. It is not good for us to clutter our hearts and minds with envy and strife. It is best to love. To love what you’re doing, to love yourself, and to love others well. When you compromise your heart in the midst of “competition,” you’re losing a piece of yourself. I’m rooting for you friends. Thank you for reading, thank you for rooting me on too. We are at the end of the day, all in this together. We are fighting our own good fight.