Serena Williams Doesn't Play for the NFL- Neither Should You
Serena Williams is an amazing powerhouse of strength, raw talent, learned skill and topped with fierce competitiveness. All the things that it takes to make it big in the National Football League. But she doesn't. She is a multi-championship winning tennis pro.
What the hell does that have to do with art?
Well, I don't sculpt. I also don't paint portraits. I don't know how to use oil paints either. Why do we artists constantly compare ourselves to other artists who aren't in our league- let alone playing in our own field? I have to remind myself often- Serena doesn't play for the NFL, but that doesn't mean she isn't a capable athlete in her own right. Take any linebacker and put them on the court to find them just as out-of-place. We artists must find our own field, our own court and celebrate ourselves inside of that. We need to see our own victories, learn from our own defeats- but only in our own studios. We too often try to compare our raw talent and learned skill with those of artists from other skill levels, different mediums, or the "Olympians" of art.
It does benefit us greatly to be inspired by others and their works. They can teach us their warm-ups, their history of learning, their best secrets and tips. It is only for us to thank them and bring home that knowledge to use as our own home court advantage. We wouldn't try to keep up with a professional, life-long marathoner on the street would we? We can keep our own pace as we grow.
Know that buying another artist's piece does not concede them as a better artist than yourself. Know that watching another artist's tutorial does not mean you won't some day be passing on wisdom of your own. Know that going to an art show does not mean you can't belong there someday, too.
Our studios may be four walls downtown or simply the cushions of our couch, but they are sacred places of studying and growth. They are our fields and our courts, and we need to stick to comparing our self of today with only our shadows from yesterday.