How do you handle art jealousy? I mean, spend any amount of time online in the artistic community, and you’ll inevitably run into the Big Green Monster.
No, not Shrek. JEALOUSY.
I struggle with art jealousy all the time. I see an amazing art journal layout on Instagram or Pinterest and think, “holy crap, I wish I could do that.” And not just in a normal way? But in an envious, almost bitter kind of way, because it wasn’t just about the art. I also wanted the accolades that CAME with doing that kind of art. I’d see the photo, check their number of followers and comments, and be really, really bitter that I wasn’t able to get that same level of audience engagement.
The more that I’ve been working on developing my own artistic style (and writing my own art blog), the less this bitter-jealous feeling pops up. The more confident I become about MY art, the less I worry about other people’s art. But when I was a new artist, it happened a LOT. And I felt very defeated– because I thought I’d never be able to “compete” with those Instagram-famous artists.
But that kind of negative thinking is NOT helpful with developing an artistic journey. In fact, it can be really DANGEROUS to focus on your jealousy instead of on your art. You get sidetracked, and then your art suffers because you’re obsessing about someone else.
If you’re struggling, check out these six steps on how to handle art jealousy:
1. Understand that everyone is at a different point in their artistic life.
If you’re a beginner artist, don’t compare yourself to artists who have been making art for decades. They are at a totally different point in their artist’s journey! Don’t tangle your self-worth into someone else’s art, and especially don’t tangle your journey into someone else’s.
Instead of focusing on their finished projects as a whole package, focus on the TECHNIQUES they used to make them. Don’t try to copy-cat their art, but use it as a learning opportunity instead.
2. Know that everyone’s art style is different.
Part of being jealous is wishing your art looks like someone else’s. But your style is your own, and you don’t need to copy someone else to be a “real” artist. It’s important to develop your own art style, and to not rely on copying other people. If you’re constantly chasing after someone else’s art style to try and appease your jealousy, your own art style will suffer.
Your art journal doesn’t need to look like another person’s art journal to be “good.” You wouldn’t expect Picasso to look like Van Gogh, right? So why expect your artwork to look like any other artist’s?
It’s important to develop your own art style, and to not rely on copying other people. Then you can be confident in your artistic abilities, and stand strong against those jealous feelings.
3. Stop exposing yourself to situations that increase your jealousy.
If you feel yourself getting jealous over and over again, figure out what the trigger is. Maybe you’re on Instagram all the time, surfing hashtags, and seeing finished art journal layouts makes you upset. A Facebook group has dozens of posts each day with amazing art, and the big green monster rears its head once more. Or a high-end mixed media art magazine makes you want to cry with frustration.
If you find this happening, then it’s time to take a step back. Quit looking at social media. Stop buying $15 art magazines. Unfollow that Facebook group for a while.
Remember how jealous I got from looking at Instagram posts? I totally ditched IG for about a year while I worked on my own stuff. And it worked!
Use that time away from those triggers to work on your artistic self-confidence, and to separate thoughts of jealousy from feelings of your self-worth.
4. Find (or build) a support group for yourself.
This is NOT: find yourself some lackeys who’ll blow smoke up your butt no matter what you do. This IS: finding a group of kind, supportive people who uplift each other. Don’t get stuck in your own negative feelings alone in your house with no-one to talk you out of them. Getting regular feedback on your art, having a space to talk about your art journey, and being surrounded by other artists who are excited about ART! can be a wonderful way to cut down jealousy.
Sometimes this can be a Facebook group, or an online forum. Maybe a Twitter hashtag! Or you can meet up IRL with some friends every other week to hang out and make come collages. Whichever way you choose, find some support…and give support in return. I truly believe that uplifting other artists leads to uplifting yourself.
5. Read a supportive book or blog.
Sometimes we can tell ourselves positive things over and over again, but we need validation from an outside source. That’s why it’s so important to have a supportive friend group! But friends aren’t 100% available all the time…which is where this step comes in!
For me, I have a couple favorite books that I keep close by. One is Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, one of the first art books I ever read that resonated with me emotionally. Whenever I start feeling like I’m not developing my art, or that “everybody else is better than me,” I pull out my copy and read a chapter or two. It helps me to focus on something outside of myself, and it reminds me that everyone deals with these feelings and that I’m not weird for feeling green.
If you have a favorite blog or art book that brings you comfort, keep it close by. Refer to it when you’re feeling green.
6. Turn the negative into a positive creative moment.
Whenever you feel jealous about someone else’s art, channel that energy into something positive. Write out your feelings into a journal only you’ll see, paint big angry splashes of color on a huge canvas, sew a really big ugly blanket to wrap yourself in. Any time you think “I wish that was my art,” make something instead of stewing.
Focus on doing something creative instead of the intrusive thoughts which only want to hurt, and you’ll continue to develop your art style even when you want to quit. It really helps! I finished almost a whole art journal working through my own jealous feelings.
Do you ever get jealous about other people’s art journals? How do you deal with your negative feelings?