Keeping an Eye on Other Artists

If you don’t like to think of yourself as competing against other artists, I hear ya. I understand where you’re coming from.

But we all have competition.

We know that if someone is looking for art and they don’t buy your work, they’re going to buy it from another artist. If someone doesn’t commission you, they’re going to commission another artist. If someone doesn’t enroll in your art classes, they’re going to enroll in another artist’s. If someone doesn’t read your art blog, their probably reading another artist’s blog.

Gwen Vermeulen

Gwyn Vermeulen, Abstract Triptych Glass Mosaic. 24 x 22 inches. ©The Artist

Don’t think of competition as a bad thing. Instead, consider it a challenge.

Competition can get you up in the morning and motivated. Competition can drive you to do better work and become more focused on your career and where you want it to go.

[ Competition can also make you sick to your stomach or stop you cold in your tracks. If you're not motivated by competition, you should find a way to listen to and to trust your inner voice. ]

And remember: Just because you see someone as your competition, doesn’t mean that they view you in the same way. Their actions can motivate you without them even knowing it.

Your competition is probably someone who:

  • Works in similar media, genre, sizes, and/or subject matter
  • Has comparable pricing
  • Has a similar education
  • Is at an equivalent stage in his or her career
  • Exhibits in similar venues (with a similar audience looking on)
  • Offers classes or workshops along the same lines of those you offer

Who is your competition? Are you keeping an eye on them? Or do you prefer to ignore them and trust yourself?

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14 comments to Keeping an Eye on Other Artists

  • Eve

    This post came at the right time….and I see that you featured the artwork from my competition! ;)

    The way I see it, everyone that works in your medium is potentially your competition. I don’t always feel competitive with certain artists because we work in different styles but a customer that is looking for artwork in a particular medium may not see the difference.

    I’ve found that it’s best for me to trust my instincts and worry about “the competition” less. I’m always aware of what other artists are doing but worrying too much about “keeping up with the Joneses” only damages my artistic vision.

    (Seeing this post come across my reader with that particular piece of art being featured did make me think I need to step up my game!)

  • I like the idea of “motivator” rather than “competitor”. I do keep track of a few fellow artists to see what and how they’re doing in the event some of that information would be useful to me. It’s a careful balance though, between following your own path and getting caught up in what others are doing.

  • I spent too much of my younger days being competitive so I really have to put it in perspective now. I still am to be honest, but I also try to be motivated by others work. Motivated to stretch myself, try new things and expand. I agree with the one before me, that it is good to see what others are doing but only to a point. I look at others work but don’t try to replicate what I see others doing. At this point in my life I need to be true to myself and live my own life.

  • An artist friend of mine recently sent me a link to another artist’s site who happens to be listed as one of the top ten artists in my country.
    I was so inspired by his work that I realised what could be possible, and have started painting much better as a result. He is so above me in terms of competition – internationally renowed – his works sell for the same price as a small house here, but instead of feeling intimidated I felt inspired. Perhaps because his genre is not so far from my own, I felt I could work towards attaining his level of prowess, while still keeping my own individual style. I have also started to enjoy the painting process more and want to make each work better than the previous – it is as though I now have a goal to work towards.
    So to me competition is a good thing if it makes me a better artist.

  • I both collect and create art. As an art collector, I can tell you that a specific work of art will speak to me in a way that, let’s say, toilet paper or sardines do not. I can only assume that others who purchase art feel the same. Being attracted by and compelled to buy a specific work goes much deeper than merely acquiring a commodity like a new car. As an artist I, therefore, feel no competition with other artists. I am deeply motivated and inspired by the very act of creation. And the artists I know personally are very supportive and appreciative of one another, even to the point of congratulating one another on the sale of a piece. Artists are not lawyers or doctors or automobile manufacturers vying for clients. We are creating one-of-a-kind individual works that speak directly to the soul of an individual. If you sell a piece of art to someone who loves it, I applaud you wholeheartedly, for you have made the world a more beautiful place. You have inspired me.

  • I find myself siding with Burnell Yow!, I’m too busy pushing myself to improve and get it right the first time to even think of competing. How do you actually compete on a creative level – it’s too much an apples and oranges comparison. As for competing on the numbers ($),O.K., they found their niche, what did they do that can help me find mine? I certainly don’t have time to reinvent all the wheels that are out there, I deeply appreciate anything I can learn from fellow artists and entrepreneurs. I’ll take an exchange of ideas, any day, over trying to prove mine are better

  • Essence magazine just posted a story online about female artists that the world should know about. http://photos.essence.com/galleries/10_female_artists_you_should_know_about/entry_image/335781-nina_chanel_abney#335801

    In looking at the article, I realized that it’s not about competition (I hardly feel in the same league in terms of notoriety), it’s inspiring to see that that these artists are getting such recognition.

    Like those that posted above me, I don’t really see it as competition but more of motivation to keep me going and to stay productive. I recently met an artist that cranks amazing pieces and told me about his process. Admittedly, I was envious that he was so prolific but my encounter with him gave me valuable insight into learning what it takes to really hone your craft and maintaining momentum.

  • Very interesting article…. we all know that the competition exists, it’s out there somewhere or just in front of our eyes… If I would think of a competition on a constant basis and try to compete with other artists , I wouldn’t be able to do any creative work… or come up with my original, unique ideas… I also see it as a motivation factor. I get inspired and motivated when I see an artist who is nationally or internationally recognized. But I also know that behind this recognition lies a lot of hard work, dedication and, of course love for art!

  • It’s refreshing to hear ‘motivation’ when talking about competition between artists. And it’s equally pleasing to see the comments on this blog re-enforcing this attitude.

    We’ve seen some rather fiery ‘artist temperament’ reactions to other ‘competing’ artists on our network, it’s not always pretty I can tell you! Thankfully though, most of the artists we know are lovely people and are supportive of one another.

  • The closer my work gets to who I am, the less I feel the competition…Nobody can be me…It just took a while to figure out who me was…

  • For me, ditto Sari.
    Also, I’ve been meaning to mention this for quite some time, but this seems like a good opportunity. Thank you Alyson for not only your messages, but for opening us up to a variety of other artists/artworks by your images. They run the gamut in types and styles, and it’s so refreshing to see all the different works.

  • In high school, way back in a pre-jurassic era, I had an art instructor who said something that affected me to this very day. It was this, “There is no competition here or in art. Each of you sees the world differently. Each of you will share how you see the world differently. No one is better than you. No one is worse than you. Your only competition is yourself, so don’t worry how the person sitting next to you is doing in this class. You are here to develop your own voice.”

    What I do isn’t a movement or style. It is singular.

    That being said, I agree with some of the others about “competition.” I have peers, there are those who are at different places in their careers. All of this is food for thought, inspiration, and methodology to getting there (where ever the heck that is…).

  • Hi Alyson,
    This may be a little off topic but only a little. Do you know how this blogger may have come up with the press releases that are posted on the site? Basically I would like to post other realist art shows on my site as a way of getting traffic and I have a real natural interest in what other contemporary realists are doing and would like to see what is out there both as a source of competition and inspiration .

    http://intherealartworld.blogspot.com/2010/05/margaret-bowland-pop-up-project-12th-of.html

  • [...] have competition. They are not doing the exact same thing you’re doing (who is?!), but they’re working [...]