It’s good to be a superhero nowadays.
First of all, you’re almost guaranteed to have a movie made about you. Or maybe an entire series. People will wear your uniform at Halloween, put your symbol on their cars, and cheer you on as you save the day time and time again.
However, you also have a lot of competition in the superhero game. Every week there’s another superhero series being rebooted, and people might not notice you as much when the next big hero movie comes out. (Has any even seen Captain Planet lately)?
All joking aside, the growing crowd of revived superhero characters is a fitting parallel to the current state of the artistic world.
On one hand, it’s never been easier to be a talented creative. Technological tools have become less expensive, more accessible and more powerful, allowing the independent artist to create works that once could only be achieved in large studios with serious financial backing. Social media has given us the ability to build a platform at low-cost, tailored to a unique fan base. Everywhere you look, people are expressing innovative and groundbreaking ideas, which, when combined with the speed of social sharing, can result in sudden popularity and instant celebrity. In a lot of respects, it’s the golden age of creativity. Talented artists can flex their creative muscles freely to the delight of their audiences.
On the other hand, it’s never been harder to be an artist. Why? Because of all of the above conditions. Because it’s never been easier to enter the artistic space, it feels like everyone has done exactly that.
Everyone has a Youtube channel. A Facebook Live show. A Tumblr portfolio. A Snapchat account.
All of this artistic saturation seems to indicate that the competition for eyeballs and ears will only grow more intense. Given this climate, you might feel lost in the shuffle of a hyper-creative world. It’s almost as if the villain of Pixar’s The Incredibles, Syndrome, summarizes the struggle of artists when he reveals his plot to the “Super” known as Mr. Incredible. Remember how Syndrome wanted to be a superhero himself but was snubbed by a younger Mr. Incredible? In retaliation, Syndrome plans to destroy all of the heroes who were born with special powers, then sell his superpower technology to the world. His premise? “When everyone’s super, no one will be.”
You might say your superpower is your creative gift. But there are a lot of “Supers” with powers like you. And they, like you, want to put on their cape and save the world.
Can you still be special when there are so many people want to be special?
The short answer? Yes.
But more importantly, it’s your mindset that will define whether you will stand out as an artist. Clearly, people will eventually notice you if your work is original, relevant and of the highest quality. But no one will value your art if you don’t find value in it first.
In his article “Too Many Artists or Not Enough Value?”, writer Douglas McLeannan states, “The problem we have now is not that there are too many artists or too much art…. The problem is that our definitions of quality haven’t caught up with our new expectations for art.”
And who defines those expectations?
We define them, before anyone ever sees or hears what we’ve created.
You must expect and demand quality from yourself before you can expect attention and approval from others.
When you push yourself to excel in what you do, you help to increase its value. And that can only help the cause for all of us.
There are things you can say, sing, write, play, and express in a way no one else can. That which is most unique is most valuable. Don’t copy the crowd. Your superhero cape doesn’t fit anyone else.
Here’s an easy way to determine if you should continue creating in a world that is full of artists.
Ask yourself, “Has the world ever been worse off because someone kept on creating?”
In other words, will your art make the world better or worse?
My guess is that you are not looking to make the world worse.
To be your best as an artist, start by placing a higher value on your own contribution to the creative community. This doesn’t mean charging more, thought that may result from your reflections. It mostly means internalizing your worth as an original, unique artist, finding your voice, and then exercising your gift with boldness and authenticity.
Remember, no superhero saves the day by him or herself. They almost always need a companion, a team, a community that helps them to conquer the challenge before them.
That’s why we need your voice. We need your creativity. We need your contribution to the ideals of beauty, authenticity and truth.
We need you.
Now go put on your cape and get to work.
Question: How do you express your unique creative gift in the marketplace? You can leave a comment by clicking here.