Why Comparison Kills Your Creativity & Why Its OK To Have 'Bad Days'.
When a difficult or challenging situation comes up its so easy to look around and compare yourself to others. Its so easy to think 'Why is this happening to me?' or 'They make it look so easy'. But if theres one thing I've learnt in the last few months, its to stop comparing my journey to anyone elses. To stop and ask myself 'What's this situation teaching me. What can I learn from this. How can I grown from this'.
Recently, the situation I found myself confronted with was the pros and cons of sharing my work online. The pros: Millions of people around the world can see and appreciate what I do and why I do it. The cons: Plagiarism. For anyone not familiar with this, I'm talking about people, business's and brands, blatantly stealing artwork from an Artist, using it for their own benefit, or claiming it to be their own idea. For anyone that knows me, and if you've been following me for a while, you'd know how passionate I am about what I do. Art is my outlet. Art has literally changed the course of my life. I always knew, from the youngest age that I wanted to 'be an Artist one day' . I knew that one day, when my timing was right, I would make it happen, I would wake up and do what I love every day. And now I do, and every day I'm grateful and proud of this.
I'm a perfectionist when it comes to the artwork I create, always finding ways to make every design the best it possibly can be, both aesthetically and conceptually. I want my art to be more than just something that 'looks nice'. I want it to tell stories, I want it to hold sentimental value. I want my art to mean something. And even if the story, the idea, the thought behind each artwork wasn't ever known by the person looking at it, I know. I know the story behind every pattern that I draw for every special client its for. I know the feeling that comes with creating something so intricate, so detailed. I know the time that goes into every piece, and I know the emotions that are linked with every... single... line.
For years I've received messages from people being inspired by my artwork, and I'm honestly so grateful that my designs can be a form of therapy and relaxation for people who can see what I do, take something from it and then draw something of their own, but then theres people that take it to another level. To find out that a company has taken your original artwork, all of your hard work, and is using it on their products, on their website, all across their social media, claiming it as their own designs, I can't even describe that feeling. My stomach did that thing where it flips over and you feel upset, angry, sick and frustrated all at once. And this company is based on the other side of the world, so right in that moment, despite how strong I know I am, I felt helpless. (Thank god for my amazing Lawyer if you're reading this I honestly can't thank you enough). And then in that same week to find other Artists completely copying my artwork and selling it as 'their own', that was just the icing on a really shitty flavoured cake. You know those weeks when one thing after the other just keeps coming at you and it all gets a bit too much. Thats where I was at.
And at the time I could have so easily named these people, shamed their business and sent them the negative energy they really do deserve. But I'm not that kind of person. I'd so much rather put my time and energy into other things. Into me. Into learning from these situations, and coming out the other side a better and stronger person. But before I could do that, I had to deal with how I was feeling at the time.
Not only is it frustrating when someone takes your artwork, it’s rude, and its disrespectful. And not enough Artists speak up about this issue yet its constantly happening. So why can't we speak up about it? Why is this such a taboo topic? I'm constantly told 'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery', and I get that, but I don't agree with it. Its one thing to be 'inspired' by an Artist but to completely take their artwork and copy it, line for line, that’s so far from creative, and to be honest, I’m really sick of seeing it happen, not just to me but to so many others. And no-one speaks up about it because no-one wants to look like 'the mean guy', or theres this idea that 'You just have to accept it's going to happen' . OK, fair enough, thats the Internet I understand that, but I WANT to speak up about it. Because maybe it will help others find their voice too.
I'm naturally a very optimistic, 'glass is always half full' kind of person. I always have been, but at the end of the day, I'm only human, and to be completely honest with you, that particular period of time was really hard for me. I didn't post anything that would imply that I was going through a tough time, and thats because deep down, I felt like acknowledging the struggles would be me giving into them. That it would be weak for me to say 'Hey, this situation is really, really shit' . So I took time, to process why I felt that way, until I got to a point where I understood more of what I was feeling and why. I didn't want to give that bad situation any of my attention so I didn't want to talk about it, Why? Because I was afraid that was a sign of weakness. Which I now know is so far from the actual truth. I also didn't want to draw because I never want to bring negative energy into my creative space. And I really didn't want to share my drawing online either. I just needed time out.
And you know what, I'm so glad I took that time to really let myself feel these things. Its so important to be honest and raw with ourselves, to allow ourselves to go through these sort of hard times, in business and in life in general. Because it allowed me to feel the lows, rather than just push them aside. I realised that anyone who chooses to copy another persons idea, artwork or concept, will never, ever have the same amount of satisfaction when they look at that artwork. Just the same as the people who chose to support and buy from these 'businesses', wont ever have the same satisfaction of owning an original piece of work and the sentimental value that comes with it.
I'm very independent, self motivated and not much bothers me. I like to think my nature is one that hardly ever feels stress. My usual train of though is 'You are strong, shake it off, keep going, don’t worry about anyone else’, so when this situation came up that DID bother me, it really shook me. Because I’m not normally someone who feels overwhelmed, frustrated, or just ‘not myself'. I genuinely didn't feel like myself.It took me some time to realise that just because you have small moments that knock you down doesn't make you any less strong, its ok to ask for help and its ok to show that you're not always feeling your best. I used to always live by the motto 'No Bad Days' but lets be completely honest here, you’ll have bad days, you’ll come across things that are difficult, things that really... really test you, thats life. More people need to talk about their challenges, not just Artists, not just in business, but anyone. Show the struggles, share the lows. I know and follow a lot of people who are freelancing, ‘doing what they love’, starting small businesses and working towards their own goals, and not many take time to acknowledge the 'bad days' so it’s easy to think that there are none and to question yourself when you have them.
So heres a reminder, everyone has them. I do, she does and so does he. Lets get rid of this false idea that theres even such a thing as the perfect life, the perfect business, the perfect relationship, the perfect body, the perfect path or the perfect ANYTHING. Because it doesn't exist. Perfection does not exist, and thats completely OK. I wanted to write this because if Im sharing my artwork, my journey and my life with you, I want you to see the full picture. I get a lot of beautiful messages saying 'You're living the dream' and yes, most days I am. But there are parts of 'the dream' that aren't fun, that aren't easy, and I'm so glad I can genuinely look back on these sort of hard times and appreciate them for what they were at that time, for what they were teaching me. I'm glad I can say to myself 'You did it, you got through that really shit situation, and now look where you are'.
So yes, long story short that company isn't using my artwork anymore, and I'm drawing again because nothing will stop me from doing what I love. So if you're still reading this and you're going through a hard situation, take a deep breath, it will pass. If you're reading this and have ever wanted to start a business, or pursue something you love, take a deep breath, just do it. I wont promise you it'll be easy, but I promise you, if you're passionate about something, it's worth it, on the good days and even on the bad, its so worth it