This past weekend, I had the honour of doing the keynote speech for ALT for Everyone, the groundbreaking design conference that takes place right on your computer screen, in the comfort of your own home. The ALT conferences (both in-person and virtual) are pretty special, in that they are attended primarily by people who make their living in some sort of artistic or creative manner -- although, as I mentioned to one attendee who claimed that she wasn't creative, I believe there is no such thing as an uncreative person, but simply someone who hasn't begun to practice his or her creativity yet. And besides, the beauty of this world is that I think it's big enough for all of us to live in authenticity and make it a better place for it.
Anyway, as part of my talk, I shared how I believe that comparison -- that is, comparing yourself or your work or your art with another person('s) -- is ultimately and almost without exception a waste of time. In my opinion, when you compare yourself with someone, you're comparing all of you -- your work, your thoughts about your own work, the effort behind your work, your thoughts about yourself -- with the appearance of someone else or their work at one instance in time, having know knowledge of its context. In other words, comparing yourself or your work with anyone else or their work is inherently an unfair comparison. It should be avoided. Besides, I do believe that it is patent impossible to creative effectively in someone else's voice -- the inevitable result is disappointment. Accepting that you will do what you do differently from everyone else is incredibly freeing, and should be lived whole-heartedly.
That said, I'm all about inspiration -- which I think is totally different from comparison -- and which I also believe is not only an indulgence that should be taken frequently, but even sought out. Given this, I want to be sure to make the distinction between comparison and inspiration:
- Comparison will make you feel bad about yourself, or stir ugly feelings of resentment or jealousy. It is completely destructive, and should be avoided at all costs.
- Inspiration will spur you to try harder and do better work. Inspiration encourages experimentation of your own techniques. Inspiration is a good thing, and should be strongly encouraged (but always giving credit where possible).
There is, of course, a fine line between "inspiration" and wholesale "copying" -- and copying is never good (see before, "patently impossible to create effectively in someone else's voice."). And in my search for examples of the beauty of inspiration, I came across this very awesome TED talk by music producer and DJ Mark Ronson, who discusses comparison, inspiration and how sampling has completely transformed the music industry (not to mention, illustrates how to take inspiration to create your own very distinctive work of art). This talk is one of the most creative I've ever seen, and is totally worth 17 minutes of your time.
Click here or on the image below to enjoy.
To more readily claim your more beautiful Different in a creative, supportive setting, I do hope you'll join me this October at the LimeLight Sessions, here in Houston. Registration is currently open, and there are only 5 spaces left -- take advantage of the Early Bird Pricing (which ends in a couple of weeks!) and register soon!