transits 32, photograph
“When we are in competition with ourselves, and match our todays against our yesterdays, we derive encouragement from past misfortunes and blemishes. Moreover, the competition with ourselves leaves unimpaired our benevolence toward our fellow men.”
– Eric Hoffer
There are many opportunities in the art world to become embroiled in competition: juried shows, camera clubs, publication submissions, etc. It’s challenging to heed the excellent advice of Hoffer to compete only with ourselves. I do like the consequence he points out, that of minimizing any ill feelings toward others!
Competition in art seems so arbitrary – how can one compare a photograph (or painting) of a landscape against a figurative piece? Or between two pieces with very different styles? What qualities of the pieces are being compared and contrasted? I don’t envy jurors of these events – it’s a necessary task, but one incredibly hard to do well, I think.
Even competing with oneself is a challenge. How does one measure improvement? Often there are too many variables at play – if we created the same type of work over and over, we might be able to compare results, but I’m constantly changing what and how I create the work. Progress, if even identifiable, surely occurs on a non-linear trajectory.
This year I’ve decided to engage in more events in which my work will be judged by others. I’ve had some success so far, and some rejections. I am a competitive person by nature, so am working on keeping that tendency in check.
This will be my last posting for a short while – this weekend I am off to Photoalliance, a portfolio review in San Francisco. There I will be confronted with lots of feedback from curators, gallery owners, artists and publishers. I will be looking for direction, networking and inspiration. Hopefully I will keep any competitive urges at bay…