Wednesday, August 3, 2011

"Frenemie" or Just the Push We Need?

Have you ever found yourself having this conversation?

Another work in progress to add to my pile of half
completed paintings.
Your artist friend stops by your studio "just to chat" and in that conversation she just happens to mention how many paintings she sold this month, which happens to be significantly more than what you sold in the last TWO months. You congratulate her and counter with mentioning the new gallery that is now representing you. She congratulates you, yawns, then mentions that she couldn't sleep last night because she was thinking about the two commissions she just received and how she just doesn't have enough time in the day to meet all of her deadlines. Your head starts to spin trying to come up with something to top that. You mention the three art fairs your gallery is taking your work to and how you need to supply these galleries with SO much work that you may need to sleep at the studio for the next few weeks.

While the conversation is very polite, and both of you are congratulating each other on your successes, inside you can't help but feel competitive. You can't help but feel catty and "one-up" her whenever you can. You are comparing yourself to this "friend" and you want make sure you are more successful than her.

Now, in all likelihood don't feel this way about all of your artists friends. You are genuinely happy when they make a sale, or get a new gallery to represent them. You are a supportive friend when they feel stressed or panicked about a deadline. But for some reason, whenever SHE walks by, you can't help but feel a sudden rush of cattiness and need to show her just how successful you are. It's not really logical either. Both of your work is completely different in technique and genre, so why the need to "compete" with each other? Do we really need to have someone like this to "compete" against in order to push us into being more ambitious?

This one is almost done...just a few touch ups left.
Most of us have that one "friend" (or more likely, a "frenemie") that we compare ourselves to, whether it's the success of our art, the success in our personal lives, the accomplishments of our kids, or any other number of things going on in our world. It's the friend that pushes you to do more, not because they are so supportive, but because you want to do better than them. You can't help it. It just seems to always happen whenever you see or talk to this person. 

On the upside, sometimes this "competition" does make you more successful. It's the added push you need in order to submit your work to one more gallery or paint just one more painting for your upcoming show. On the downside, it can make you feel bad about yourself when you feel that you aren't measuring up. When self-doubt starts to creep in, it can be downright detrimental to your creative process and productivity.

So what do you do when you can't help but feel like you just don't measure up to the person you are comparing yourself too? You remind yourself that this is not a competition between you two. You tell yourself that there is plenty of room for the both of you to be successful and that we all experience success on different levels and in different ways. You stay positive and focused on what YOU want to accomplish. You do what you love because YOU love it and shut out the voice in your head that wonders how it will compare to someone else. And when none of these things work, you stay away from this "friend" because really, who needs to have someone in their lives that makes them feel bad?

I'm thinking this one is done. I may touch up some
parts, but I am pretty happy with where it's at.


  1. Excellent post, Jhina! Hope everyone can turn their energies to be positive no matter what the motivation.

  2. Ditch the bitch! Why are you putting up with this crap, Jhina? You don't need it. You are doing great work and moving yourself forward in an amazing way. You will never "measure up" to this so-called friend because she is not a friend at all, but a negative drag on you. Don't engage with her. Just tell her you're much too busy to talk and keep moving on.