It’s really astounding to think about how much the art community has exploded in the past several years. These days it seems that everyone has a blog and a book and an Etsy store. There is so much artwork out there — really amazing artwork — that it’s easy to start comparing yourself to others. That’s just a recipe for disaster.
When I first started at Stampington & Company, my job was to open all the incoming artwork. Being an artist myself, it was the perfect task. Each day I was able to handle the best mixed-media artwork from some of the top artists in the industry. It was inspiration overload, and rather than sending me into a creative frenzy, I started comparing my artwork to theirs and even started asking myself what the point was. It became so paralyzing that I knew something had to change.
One day while I was being extra hard on myself, out of frustration I asked myself, “How did they get to be so good?” Right then I knew the answer: they did the work. They practiced. They messed up. They started over. They got to be so good because they did the work and they continue to do the work. And that’s exactly what I was doing wrong. I wasn’t doing anything (other than making myself feel really awful).
The first step to creating great art is to create something. No one becomes an overnight success. Even those artists who seem to pop up out of nowhere have spent countless hours fine-tuning their work. So, I guess my best advice for artists who are just starting out and are thinking that there isn’t room for them in the community, is that there’s room for all of us, so long as we keep doing the work.
Christen Olivarez is Director of Publishing for Stampington & Company and Editor-in-Chief of Somerset Studio, the top-ranked magazine for mixed-media and paper artists. Her blog posts appear on CreateMixedMedia.com every other Tuesday.
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