Last week's weekly creativity boosting challenge for Create a Spark Saturday was to slow down. I am not very good at slowing down. I am probably the most hyper motivated person I know. I am a full speed ahead kind of a girl.
But this week I forced myself to slow down. I did my regular work; sent Etsy orders, sent orders to the suppliers of my patterns, wrote my usual weekly blog posts etc, but I did not fling myself gung ho into new and even more demanding projects. In essence, I tread water instead of swimming the channel.
I think I probably need even more of a break to fully refuel the creative gas tank. This week I've learned that sometimes the best challenge to give yourself is no challenge at all.
This week's challenge: Find someone whose art and work makes you feel a wee bit jealous (or even a whole lot jealous). Then, don't stay jealous, get inspired instead.
Watch this video from Marie Forleo, marketing guru/business strategist/life coach where she talks about dealing with jealousy and being intimidated by someone else's success. In the video she happens to be addressing the concerns of a doll maker:
Unlike the doll maker featured in this video, I will freely admit to being jealous of other artists and doll makers. I am not the least bit embarrassed about it either because I don't see it as a negative thing. Instead of letting the jealousy get me down I let it inspire me to new heights.
When I find an artist that stirs the green-eyed monster inside me (and actually my green eyed monster is kind of warm and snuggly because we've become friends over the years) I ask myself these questions:
- What about this person's work makes me feel jealous? Be very specific here. Do you like the colours they use? Do you think their photography is great? Do you admire their technical skill? Or their originality?
- What is this artist doing really well that I might be able to replicate myself? (and by this, I don't mean reproducing someone else's art and calling it your own - that is just not cool!) I mean, does the artist have a particularly successful Etsy shop/blog/website/book - what it is about that shop/blog/website/book that makes it different to what you are doing? Does that artist constantly use new techniques/re-invent their aesthetic regularly/use cool fabrics/successfully sell in galleries? How might you be able to put your own twist on something that you admire about someone else?
Recently, I've been admiring the work of doll artist Jessica Hamilton. Instead of getting all jealous and erecting a dart board with Jessica's face on it (not productive and just creates negative energy), I wrote to Jessica and told her that I admired the way she is able to blend her creative energies with a good business sense. I was honest and said I wasn't sure how we might be able to collaborate, but that if she was up for it, I'd love to do some work together.
Jessica could have written back and said "no". She could have said "kiss my foot". Or she could have ignored me. But Jessica wrote back and we've been bouncing ideas around and sharing our stories about blogging and Etsy and dolls and business. It was actually Jessica who told me about MarieForleo.com - ironic that the latest video was about jealousy and a doll maker.
Jessica said about this topic:
"I love the idea of reaching out to the competition or people in similar fields you look up to or admire. I was reading the other day that the business relationships you strive for should always be those who you are a little intimidated by or even jealous of, the ones you need to reach up and grab. Because then you will always grow."
Thing is, that sometimes when you reach out to people they won't always be as wonderful as Jessica. Sometimes they'll say no and sometimes they might even be a bit rude about it. Most of the time they will ignore you. As hard as it is to hear a no. It is just a no. No can't hurt you. Move on, until you hit the next yes. If you stop asking, you'll stop getting. As Jessica says if you want to grow, you've got to grab on to a person who is headed in the direction you'd like to go.
And try to think about if there is anything you might be able to offer that other artist in return. It's only fair if you ask for something to offer something in exchange, it's just good art karma.
I'll be working on ways to help Jessica and to learn from her this week.
Who are you jealous of inspired by?
PS Just a reminder that if what you admire about an artist is a particular technique or pattern, don't expect them to tell you all about it for free. Remember, in many people's cases their art is their livelihood so ask instead if they sell a pattern, tutorial or teach a class in that technique that you could purchase.