Thursday, March 21, 2013

Jealousy: And How It Motivates Me

Everyone seems to have their "go to" book for perspective. Well, this is mine. I don't know if it's the best perspective book out there but it's cheap and it gets the job done. It says "The Complete guide" and it's not lying. If you want to learn perspective, this book has a vary easy and approachable layout.

The Complete Guide to Perspective

When I was young, I had an acquaintance with an artist who told me, "The best complement you can ever receive from another artist is that they're jealous of you." I thought she was strange and that the idea was immoral, but as I grew up it stuck in my brain. Before long it made perfect sense to me and has become a part of my world view. The concept sounds crazy at first, so hang in there while I try to explain.

As the saying goes "success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration." I do work hard to get better, but often find myself staring at the artwork of others while feeling what I can only describe to you as Jealousy.

Jealousy is a bad word right? There are so many nicer words like admiration, veneration, adoration, glorification, appreciation, idolization, reverence, and wonder. So how come I find myself using jealousy to define my feelings?
jeal·ous·y: jealous resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage, etc., or against another's success or advantage itself.
While jealousy is often a characteristic of someone who is immature or petty, I find that the feeling has been an important motivator in my life. 
ad·mire: 1. To regard with pleasure, wonder, and approval. 2. To have a high opinion of; esteem or respect.
It seems to me that you can easily admire a movie star, or athlete, but it's harder to be jealous of them. The feeling of admiration is recognizing someone's exceptional excellence at a skill or trait, but isn't a good motivator for me. In a way you're appreciating that someone can do something you can't. It's almost comforting. For example: "I admire James Gurney because I don't think I'll ever achieve his technical oil painting skills."

But Jealousy is different. It's the feeling of wanting what someone else has by believing you deserve to have it. If someone has a car that you want, then the envious and petty thing to do is key their car or even steal it. This is a clear example of how jealousy can be a bad thing.

But if someone has skills that you want, you can't go steal their skills. The only option in this case is to achieve those skills or better. In this way jealousy is no longer ill will toward another but simply a Challenge. For example: "I'm jealous of Laurel Austin or Kekai Kotaki because they are damn good at what I do for a living, and they're better than me. So I'm going to bust my ass until I get that good."

As I stare at another artist work, I get this feeling of dread. "This is good" I think, "I'm not this good... yet." That's the key difference. For some, jealousy can lead to resentment and discouragement, for me it's a fleeting feeling followed by an emotion of hope.

What I like to do is pick artists I think are a few months to a year ahead of me and I put their work on my rotating desktop. Every half hour I get reminded of my inadequacies, and every day I look for ways to overcome them. Once I feel I've achieved their skill level I take them down and replace them with someone better. Part of succeeding at any career is knowing that there are those better than you that you have to compete with. Jealousy is just the kick in the pants I need to remind me there's more work to do. 

Just to be clear, I don't resent anyone. I do have strong feelings of respect and admiration for those who are better then me. But on the flip side I want to catch up to their level and lap them if I can. That's just me.

I wish there was a better word to describe all this... Jeal-meration, or maybe ad-mire-ousy. If you have any ideas please let me know.

I hope that made sense. Thanks for reading! 

WIP I'm crazy busy this week, so I hope I'll get some time to finish this in the near future. For now It's sloppy.

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