Envy is something a lot of people deal with. It’s that it’s prevalent in any industry or any pursuit in which someone can become more ‘successful’ than another or obtain better skills than someone else, either through their own means, either they go out and get it themselves, or by means of others around them, ie. Their opportunities come through other people. It can happen to anyone, and it’s important to understand that you’re not alone in seemingly hard battle against what is essentially self-doubt.
Envy – a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.
‘Artist Envy’, how it’s commonly referred to in the creative industry, happens if you see another artists work, mainly in a similar field so that it’s easily comparable to your own work, and you compare how successful they are to you in your field of pursuit. It comes across as simply “Wow, their work is so good, I wish I thought of that”, or “I wish I made that”, but has a deeper rooted meaning that just simply wanting to have created a piece of artwork. Why do you want to have created that piece of artwork in the first place? To be known as the artist who created it? To be known as skilled? For it to create new opportunities for you? Or all of the above?
Artist Envy stems from feelings of self-doubt, that you’re not good enough and that you will never be good enough to be on the same level. It’s a feeling of not having what another person has, in terms of their artistic skill, the opportunities around them, or that they seem lucky. “How come this person has all the luck?” you may think to yourself when you scroll through your favourite artists Instagram feed only to see them being inundated with requests to work with them, ‘PM sent’ messages. Luck is not a celestial force happening independent of you. Luck is what happens when you are in the right place at the right time. When a series of circumstances line up in your favour all at once to create successful results. This is why videos go viral.
Luck shouldn’t be used as a negative cause against an incredible artists work though. They have earned their luck, through hard work. Showing up everyday to produce work, broadcasting it online for others to consume its value. Luck doesn’t happen, you make it happen. Make it happen by showing up everyday and doing the work you do regardless of the outcome and without the promise of a reward.
It’s easy to make a clutch decision after seeing the work of a fantastic artist and wanting the success that they have, it makes it even harder in when that work is in your industry, and even harder when it’s in your niche, the very thing you want to be known for and build an audience for. To be renowned in. But don’t make any rash decisions based on the work of others. Commend the work of others, their skill and insight into creating a good job. To do the opposite is to breed a culture of jealously, where people try to one-up the other person. This is not what our industry is about, we need to share of learnings, teach others, be respectful and commend others for a job well done.
The design industry itself is one of the most broad and amazing industries there is. From Illustrations, Logos, Lettering, Icons, Websites, UIs, there is so much to see and take inspiration from. There is so much excellent work being created on a daily basis. The last thing we want is to distance ourselves from the incredible work that is being created.
Get to know the person behind the work. there is never an easier time now with the advancements in social media and video streaming services on our smartphones that allow use to broadcast to a worldwide audience in seconds. Everyone wants to see how everyone creates their work. There is mystery in the secrets of an artists process. People would pay a lot of money to see their favourite artists process and how they make their artwork so that they may learn to create incredible artwork like them too.
fearing that you’re work isn’t good enough by comparison is the wrong mentality to have about seeing really great work that you want to be yours. In fact, use this work as a catalyst to propel you to new ideas and techniques, to incorporate experiments into your work, not for it to be a burden.
The fear that you will never reach that level or place in your career is a very real struggle that most artists face, especially when scrolling through Instagram, Dribbble / Behance, and various other design outlets. It’s so easy to see the very best work being created by others on these website. But how you decide to act when it comes to this work is a true show to how successful you will become in time. It takes time to become success. Remember, there is a reason why you have heard of these people in the first place. They are exceptional at what they do. Be that person, be exceptional.
It takes 10 years to become an overnight success.
You may feel a tendency to copy from this work in a bid to gain popularity, don’t copy, learn from them. See if they have techniques, resources, tutorials to offer on their website. Reach out to them and offer your kind words about their work, I assure you they will appreciate it. No one is a superstar in the design world. The best people respond to you. Be Inspired by their style but don’t replicate it outright. People will know, and if you are tracing a designing or handlettering piece of Pinterest. What’s the point? It’s a false following. You aren’t learning anything, you don’t possess the skills needed to create the artwork.
Don’t pretend to know something you don’t, sooner or later, you will be found out. Be honest with your audience, learn as you go and iterate in public.
On the contrary to ‘Artist Envy’. You have a completely different view of your work and others work based on personal preference. You’re emotionally tied to your work (for better or worse) and it’s easy to hate on it when comparing it to others who have been doing the same thing to 10 years, or even 1 year if they are focussed and skilled.
What you think is amazing work. Another person may prefer your work over theirs. It’s all a matter of personal taste and perspective. Don’t beat yourself up.
Be happy with your work, know that it is unique, and see others work, your peers work, as opportunities to grow, try new things, experiment, and gain success from.