Why am I always so damn threatened by someone who has a similar style or idea as me?
I constantly try to remind myself that there are plenty of people making a living in industries where there's enormous competition. For example, isn't it common for lawyers, dentists, doctors, or accountants to share the same building? Similar practices being merely doors away from one another? Come on, how many times have you gone into an office building and accidentally entered the wrong practice?
So why are artists so competitive?
Are we all so arrogant to believe that we're the only ones who have ideas? Are we so scared that someone else will steal our ideas that we feel the need to compete or sabotage one another?
There are plenty of good ideas to go around, creativity is not a one-off phenomenon. There are plenty of smart, talented people out there. And there are just as many buyers. People who love art, love creativity, love hearing a new idea (New to THEM that is). Who cares if one person on the planet had the idea first.
Let me tell you something. NONE of us had the idea "first". We've each had a moment when an idea has come to us, and inspired us, even moved us to bring it into reality. But none of us are walking around with an original thought.
Now. This all stems from me being told about a creative individual who's doing erotic art kits. Its an idea where people get set up with some paint and they make love on a canvas.
For about 2 years now I've been discussing my erotic art project with people. And some have asked me to make it more public, make it more "User Friendly", "Make a kit!" I've heard; something everyone can use. Well I have always said "I'm not ready for that", or "That's not the creative message I'm trying to deliver". Well, now someone has gone and done exactly that.
I wont say this guy stole my idea, because I've never met him (as far as I know), and I don't know how long he's been doing this. But I've looked into him since my friend introduced me to his kit, and I know, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that we are not competition.
Are we similar? Yes. Are we offering people a once in a lifetime unique and personalized experience? Yes. But are our methods the same? No. Are we highlighting the same emotions? No. Are we expressing the same idea? Not even close. I don't even think we have the same intended markets.
So are we both having people get naked and do the nasty on a canvas? Yes. But to say we are the same is like saying that all abstract artists are the same, or that all lawyers are the same. All doctors are the same.
Everyone practices their medium for different reasons and with different results. Some are more well known than others, some are more talented than others, and some are just more ambitious than others.
Regardless. Competitiveness in the art world needs a heavy, damn near sedative dose of the chill pill. There's enough room for all of us. Embrace it, love it. There's a world of us, growing in numbers everyday.
Its a good thing. More people following their bliss and being happy.
I'm reminding myself of course, because this is something I deal with ALL THE TIME.
And after everything I've just written, the little devil on my shoulder says "Competitiveness adds to the excitement and allure of the art world. It drives up the costs and makes winners out of losers. Don't you want to play that game? And play it to Win?"
To which I calmly reply "No thanks. I'm good".