Competition in Art - An Illusion
Artists are just people who are scratching away to try to make their place in this world like anyone else. Somewhere in our learning we get the idea that if there is less competition, then there is more room for our work to be represented. This is something that sits in the back of our mind. This feeling that there is a lack of space for ourselves in the grand scheme of things. This is an untrue concept.
I go onto social media and I watch as some artists attack another artist for anything that is out of the normal scope of what is considered proper etiquette. For example, if a beautiful person, usually a woman but sometimes a man, would dare to show her or his sexual self with their work, they are blasted for doing so. This person is by all accounts a sexual person to be doing this in the first place to have chosen this. Second, they are trying a marketing technique. It could be ego, yes, but, whatever the reason, it will set off an insane barrage of negative comments, cat calls, and put downs. The artwork is also put to question and in the end the entire message is one of complete disrespect and take-downs. The underlying current is an opportunity to take out competition. The above is just one example, but I have seen it in other instances where someone breaks from the normal.
I see the underlying current is one of knocking out the competition. An excuse is found to attack, and the code of artists is tossed out the window. What is the code of artists you may be asking? The code is acceptance of experimentation and challenging the dogma and normality. There are many codes of the artist, but in this instance this is what I am referring to.
My background is also a career in business and what I find that is predominant in the art community is this that artists feel they are alone and remain so. When in actuality artists can be a force and unity if they so choose to be. What I learned in business, especially as an entrepreneur is to embrace my competition. By giving respect to your competition and working with them, you will organically uplift your own industry and everyone learns and flourishes and is able to make a living. Solidarity is the key to success.
So how does this transpire in the art community? You have all these individuals who are working on their own. Learning skills, learning about their soul’s calling, and learning about the industry which doesn’t really offer a direct map of how-to. How can you have a how-to when the variety is so broad and procedures change? Then there is the critiques that are nothing but seed squashing, doors closing, few venues, money paid upfront and then a gamble if you will get anything out of your efforts, commissions not being paid, and a barrage of artists that feel alone and alienated within themselves. It is a tough gig to be an artist in this day and age, and across the world. However, we persevere because we are what we are.
Where can you get solidarity? It starts with respect and kindness and giving of oneself for the betterment of the whole. The ones that understand this can guide, however, it needs participation from many to pull this forward and turn this industry around. No one in this world is going to take artists and art seriously until artists take themselves seriously and until artists respect themselves and others. You have heard the term that you have to love yourself first before you can be loved. This is the very same concept. When you love yourself, you will stop putting someone else down and you stop seeing a lack in your life. Then too will you attract those that see the greatness in you.
This is a huge task to turn the industry around and I don’t have the easy answers. I am only one person, but I certainly know that I am not the only one that understands this.
So my challenge to you is this. If you understand what I am saying and you agree with it, that you will bring it forward. Pass this message on in your way, championing for change in this industry so that one day it is unified and prosperous. No more seeing each other as competition, but seeing the opportunity to help each other along the way. It is win/win for everyone to share.
Every single artist, from the day they start, to the day they die, is in a constant state of growth. There is no finish line. Each one contributes and grows constantly. There is no competition. We have to thoroughly understand this principal and respect each person’s journey for us to be unified and to flourish into a new era.
This is my view.