Sunday, April 25, 2010
BEADWORKERS: SEVEN DEADLY SINS - SIN #2
If human beings were not competitive, the Olympics would have packed up its' togas and doused its' torches hundreds of years ago. To greater and lesser degrees, the urge to compete is bred in the bone and often produces improvements - whether it is faster runners, or Jim Dyson persisting until he achieves his perfect vacuum cleaner. Many of us thrive on a challenge, a deadline - on pushing ourselves to another level. Nothing wrong with that.
However, we live in a society in which competition, walking hand-in-hand with the need for that drug, recognition, often crosses a line lethal to creativity.
Think about it.
There is a virtual Renaissance going on in the beading world. In 1985, I made my living doing beadwork. There wasn't, to my knowledge, a single book readily available on the subject that wasn't related to North American Native beadwork. I had virtually no competition. In 2010, my fellow beadworkers number in the hundreds or thousands - and thanks to the Internet, I see new and original work on a daily basis.
It's a potluck feast of inspiration.
After consuming this daily feast, is there anyone out there who has not had days of indigestion? Days when they suspected their contribution to the potluck was boiled eggs sitting next to foie gras? Is there anyone out there who, once in a while, has not felt more bludgeoned and overwhelmed than inspired by the feast?
To the Hanging Judge who lives in my over-crowded mind, who is quick to whisper poisonous thoughts about my place (or lack of it) in the hierarchy of bead artists, I have the following answers...
Envy is toxic. Admiration is motivating. And I can choose which attitude to take. So shut up.
If someone is more skilled than me, they have worked harder or longer at the craft. So, I'll keep working.
Competition helps push me - whether I win or not. Winning is a great bonus, but it only lasts a moment. I will remember I started this because the process is gives me joy.
I didn't win (or my pattern wasn't accepted etc.). That doesn't mean I won't be accepted next time,
I will not base my self-worth on whether my work is accepted.
I will embrace my community of fellow-artisans and share freely with them. They are my support system.
I will suspend work when envy creeps in and the joy goes away. My Muse needs the odd day off and there are five loads of laundry in the closet.
Finally - I do this because it engages me, because I love to learn more, because I love the community of creators, and so when the going gets rough, I will persist. One bead at a time.
What does your Hanging Judge tell you? And what is your answer?
**On a related note, I recommend this entry on Mikki Ferrugiaro's blog: The Beaded Carpet
and an entry of Smadar Grossman's at Smadar's Treasures .
There is also a book no artist or artisan should be without: Art & Fear: Observations on the perils (and rewards) of artmaking - David Bayles & Ted Orlando, Capra Press1993.