Blog / 2020 / How To Love Your Art #2: Learn to Appreciate Other Artists’ Work

February 3, 2020

You don’t get to be a professional artist for almost 17 years without figuring out how to slay the monster of self-doubt. Leading up to my artiversary in May, I’m going to share everything I know about loving your art every day and with everything you’ve got.

Last week, we talked about hating on other artists a bit—something which is too often too easy to do—but this week is all about love.

If you want to be more confident in your creativity, you must love other artists’ work.

This was a challenge that was first put to me back when I was in college. One of my professors was alarmed to learn that I couldn’t easily list off a bunch of favorite artists and immediately assigned me the task of bringing him a new one every week.

Looking back, I see that I was purposefully avoiding learning about other creatives because I was scared. I told myself I wanted to form my creativity on my own, without outside influences—a totally cringe-worthy concept that I acknowledge as nonsense today. The truth was that I stayed away from other people’s art because I was jealous and frustrated with my own skill level. I shudder to think what I would have become if my professor hadn’t diagnosed my growing resentment and prescribed the only effective remedy immediately.

These days, my affection for all artists and the work they create is unbounded. Of course, there’s still stuff I find boring or uninspired and there’s plenty of art that offends me. That said, as long as an artist is not promoting violence or propping up those who do, I love that it exists.

This (almost) unconditional love of art is vital, because until you can appreciate other people’s art—warts and all!—you’ll never be able to love your own.

Emma Larsson’s art
Emma Larsson’s art

There are so many artists whose work I love! Louise Bourgeois and René Magritte were hugely formative to my understanding of the world along with Vincent Van Gogh and André Derain. The artists who really make me happy today are Emma Larsson, whose work is pictured above, as well as Lynda Barry, Bharti Kher, Sonia Lazo, Joi Murugavell, and Tabitha Vevers.

In her memoir Eloquent Rage, Brittney Cooper provides a basic and powerful description of feminism: to be a feminist is to love women. I adore that definition, and as soon as I read it I knew it applied to artists as well.

You cannot be an artist until you learn to love art-kind.


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