Collaboration, not competition

not what she expected paintingAn attitude of appreciation for other people’s art can bring you great joy. It’s a wonderful state of mind. Be fascinated with your fellow artist’s ideas, recognize their strengths, and use them as motivation for your own work.

Some artists may be intimidated or influenced by the competitive aspect of being an artist. Yes, there are many artists fighting for an audience, a niche, or the attention of critics. Competitive spirit can be a good motivator and is a completely natural attitude when paired with perspective and respect for your fellow artists.  However, when competition is used as a singular motivator it can be dangerous to not only your mental state, but your art as well. Keeping check on your competitive spirit can be difficult in a long line at an audition, or under the watchful eye of a juried show, but these are also great opportunities to communicate with your fellow artists and find ways to create collaborative projects (and not be hindered by those in “authority”).

Connecting with other creative types has never been easier than it is today. Blogging, twitter, and Facebook are three of my personal favorites for finding like-minded artists who want to exchange ideas and share valuable information. Lately, Twitter has fascinated me with its constant stream of thinkers, innovators, and artists willing to give freely of their gifts on the behalf of the creative collective. If you are an artist who hasn’t explored social media, give it a chance. Initially I was concerned with the time drain on my schedule, but once you get over the first hump of the learning curve, it can be and incredibly valuable and efficient tool for networking and collaboration.

There are thousands of creative minds online sharing their thoughts and talents, and encouraging the growth of our community on behalf of the future. Read their blogs; if their motivations match your own, tell them so. Send praise, encouragement, and relevant content to them. Communicate when you can, but don’t disappear when you get busy with projects (just let them know you are creating, no one faults you for that). Conversations, even in 140 characters or less, can be very inspiring. Of course, the best interaction is in-person, but in the meantime, you can gather some great ideas for your next gathering. The best way to honor the people who motivate or inspire you is to create more art. The main thing is to create on behalf of the collective, not compete.