Monday, December 2, 2013

Comparing yourself to others-Overcome Roadblocks

comparison chart
One of the Creativity Killers is comparing your work to that of other artists. We all do it. We all hear other people doing it at exhibitions. There are a lot of opinions out there. A professional judge will hopefully make decisions based on principles of good design. A certified quilt judge makes decisions based on their criteria of a well made quilt derived from traditional guidelines. A non professional viewer makes their judgements based on personal preferences and what they like or think makes a good quilt. All of these are somewhat if not totally subjective opinions and we often take them as more valid than our own opinions.

I do lectures to groups about increasing one's creativity. We all want to be more creative and authentic in our work. We want it to reflect our personal vision. We want it to express something about us. Then when we get up our courage to show it to others, we worry about how it will be received.

Will they like it???

This fear of judgement actually paralyzes some people into never showing their work. It stops some people from making original quilts because they aren't sure of their choices. Someone else's quilt they've seen at a national show was so good, theirs would never be that good. They choose to follow a pattern instead, because for some reason, that person's vision is better than theirs because they are  published.

This is a major roadblock.

What would you create if you'd never seen these nationally shown quilts in shows, magazines, or books?
Would it be more fun if you didn't know what else was being done?  Would you try odd things because no one ever told you that wasn't done with fabric? What if your opinion counted more than other people's opinions?  What if you knew other quilt artists also felt these concerns to varying degrees? Maybe they wonder how their work will compare, but are not limited by their concerns, or have learned to overcome them.

Once again, this is a series to start a discussion, an inner dialogue between your 4 year old self who loves to create and the inner critic that compares your work to other work. From my personal interviews with artists of all media, I know we all have or have had this dialogue and come to terms with this issue in our own time.

I can only encourage you to learn what you can about techniques and design, then make art that expresses your vision. There will be people who like it and get it, and there will be people with no taste (smile)

the other side of the discussion can be read in R.. Genn's letter HERE

I'd love to visit your group, and get a chance to give my lecture on creativity. I welcome all opinions on this post, love the connections between makers, and I learn from all of you. Thanks for reading.
you might enjoy other Overcoming Creativity Roadblocks-  CLICK HERE


Deb@asimplelifequilts said...

I think I'm lucky because I find inspiration in the work of others - it's a total creativity enhancer for me. My bigger roadblock is attaining the vision I have in my mind!

LA Paylor said...

Oh Deb, it's step by step. Keep your goal in mind, let the changes happen as needed, and step by creative step it will evolve. Good for you not to compare your work to others and let it get in your way!

Joanne said...

HI LeeAnna!
It's a great drawing! And a very encouraging article!
May I use your drawing, and I'll link it back to your blog, on my "Hartjes Handwerk Weekend" Blog?
I'm organising a Handwork weekend at the end of January/begin February for a few campstaff! Saskia's going to be the guest instructor! Main goal of the weekend is to make a quillow!

hydeeannsews said...

as a new quilter, learning from an expert in a class, I was really weighed down by all the precision and perfection rules at first. fortunately for me, I learned to get over that! knowing how to make my quilting better or more precise is helpful, but I don't let it hold me back anymore.

I dislike when "rules" are stated so absolutely. having talked to or read from enough experts now, I realize there are "authorities" on each side of pretty much every issue! that helped me realize maybe I could have my own way of doing things, too.

sure, there are some guidelines that are really helpful so your work lasts, but otherwise, I like to see how things turn out when we try something new or different. one of the very first quilt books I bought was full of quilts made from all sorts of materials in all sorts of ways, quite unlike what you usually see in common internet circles. I loved those ideas.

one thing is for sure, I don't like working from kits! there is no surprise at all of watching it come together. in the end, a quilt made from a kit doesn't feel like my quilt at all! at least when I use a pattern with my own fabric pull, I get to see how my fabric choices play out. patterns are nice, but working on my own designs has been the most rewarding quilting of all.

Sara said...

This is such a thought provoking post and I you are so right in everything you have stated:) Thanks for sharing with others!

Kaja said...

I am always ready to learn new techniques/stuff that makes the making easier. I like to look at other people's work, especially when it challenges me to rethink my own approaches in some way. I don't do other people's patterns and mostly as long as I like what I have made, I can live with other people not being blown away by it. Sometimes however I get just a bit afraid that I will veer away from my own vision and find myself trying to make something that is unduly influenced by someone else's lovely work, so that it won't feel like me at the end.

Vivian said...

I think that when we start a project we have to be mindful and honest about what we are trying to achieve with it. Are we really trying to exactly replicate the design we see or do we just like certain aspects of it and as long as we get satisfyingly close, it's all good? Are we actually going for a quilt show ribbon or being juried into Quilt National or do we just want a warm quilt to cover our feet when we watch TV or a reasonably pretty quilt to hang on the wall that picks up the colors in the room? Too often as we work, I think we forget what we are really trying to achieve and coerce ourselves into believing that unless it would win at Paducah when we're done, it ain't up to snuff!

I don't have a problem working from someone else's design. If I like it, it means that they've already done all the hard work of figuring out all of those niggling details about balancing line, spacial relationships, color, value, tone, perspective and scale that go into making a successful design. I don't have to think about all that and therefore can (hopefully) get the project done that much faster since, all I have to do is shop and sew and what's so bad about that?

However, I also accept that my finish may be different (not worse, just different) due to the level of my skills compared to theirs (no way am I appliqueing that part, I'll just substitute a pieced block instead) or changes I make or have to make due to the supplies I've used (couldn't get the same fabric or really wanted to use that special fabric I saw in the store) or the choices I make (really didn't like the original border or always wanted to try this technique and I think it'll work here). Once I've done all that, I just need to go back to what I originally wanted to get out of this. And yes, sometimes that's just the experience of trying something I haven't done before and seeing how far I get with it. No matter what the outcome, you're still a step ahead of someone who has never made anything at all.