Comparing My Work to Someone Else’s

I had a miniature “pity party” for myself this morning. I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, when I came across a Buzzfeed post about the work of Jirka Vinse Jonatan Väätäinen. Wow!! Amazing artist! At first I compared my work to his (I think we’re all guilty of this crime), but then I asked myself, “why am I comparing my work to someone else’s anyway?”

Several things to consider if you find yourself doing the same:

  1. Do you know this person? What I mean here is, do you know how much support they’ve had over their lifetime (in terms of their hobbies), if they’ve gone to some sort of illustration camp every year since they were a child, how much time they’ve spent working on their illustrations, etc?
  2. This point leads straight from #1: how much time do you spend working on your illustrations? I can honestly say that prior to the past few weeks, I sat down with my sketchbook maybe five days out of seven for anywhere between fifteen minutes to two hours. If I were to increase how much time I spent drawing, my illustration work would improve as well.
  3. Does the artist that you’re comparing your work to create art that is of the same style as yours? In my case this is a resounding “no”. Väätäinen’s work is fine art, where my work is definitely just illustration. That’s not to say that illustration can’t be fine art! Just look at my favourite illustrator Jessica Hische‘s work, and you’ll see work worthy of any art gallery. My work on the other hand, is more about the stuff that I see each day; I’m just telling stories with my pencil.
  4. How long has this person been at their craft? Väätäinen graduated with an Hons. BA in Graphic Design in 2009. I have only been seriously drawing for about three years and I’m largely self-taught. My experience is very different from this artist’s

After considering all of these points I no longer felt bad about my own work. My art will never be the same as anyone else’s, because my life has followed a different path. As artists/illustrators/designers we will always compare ourselves to others, and we will always criticize our work because this is just human nature. The key is to be mindful of our thoughts so we’re not constantly diminishing our value.

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