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Talk It Out

Ready for this week’s talk it out topic? I’ve been reading a lot lately about designers who are online and how they often compare their work to others and feel overwhelmed by all that they see. I guess this is called inspiration overload. Comparing your work to others can go from a natural curiosity to a full blown obsession causing stress, emotional and health problems, not to mention a bad mood and lack of motivation to do your own good work. I occasionally feel overwhelmed by all that I see online, but it doesn’t impact me or my mood because I have learned how to just unplug and find better things to focus on that doesn’t make me feel less than worthy.

elle deco south africa

Some have confessed to me that this isn’t the way for them — they get very caught up in the work of others, often feel copied or as they say, “ripped off”and very frequently visit the sites and blogs of their competitors feeling envy and displeasure. Not healthy, right? But I think for women (I don’t know about men but they seem to function differently online amongst their competitors) it is this left over from high school feeling that the most popular and pretty girls win. I learned from an early age that there will always be someone slimmer than you, richer than you, more successful than you, smarter, prettier…. gosh the list goes on. The point is that you cannot reach the top because there is no top. What is beautiful to you is ugly to someone else. I personally love Cameron Diaz and think Drew Barrymore is darling. My friend Josh thinks Drew is, “a dog” and my friend Alexander says that Cameron is, “a troll”. I mean HELLO. I love these women and think they’re like the goddesses of my generation. But then someone else is sitting there thinking and seeing something very different. See my point? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? Art and design is the same. What one likes another thinks is absolute garbage. The person you envy may be producing things that quite a few others consider poor design. They may consider your work to be above and beyond that of whom you envy.

There is only your personal best and your pinnacle that you can reach. Comparing yourself to others to the point of feeling dissatisfaction with who you are or what you do is obviously not healthy. Others have different thoughts, ideas, passions, beliefs, family experiences, education, etc. so of course what they create will be different from what you are making. Remember to, the same person you envy may envy you in return. Or, sadly, they may secretly battle a major illness or have a tough home life while yours is stable and secure. It is important to remember that everyone does not have IT ALL going for them. No one is perfect or living the perfect life.

So I’d like to ask you, how do you feel when you see other products in the same pool as what you design? Do you feel jealously? A feeling of competition? Do you ever think your work is not good enough? Are you learning from others? Do you feel burn out by all you see or inspired? If you feel burn out, how do you manage to change this in order to be productive and happy with what YOU are creating? So I will leave the ball in your court now to continue this discussion…

Thoughts? Feel free to rant, reveal, explain, ask and whatever else in the comments section below, that is the purpose of this weekly comment, hence the title! So no wallflowers – don’t be shy!

(image: elle decoration south africa)

Posted by decor8 in uncategorized on November 19, 2009

Your comments...

  1. juliette commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 3:13pm

    I go in cycles in a kind of manic way, lol. But in the end it really pays off – I get some great ideas that end up getting combined or used solo from somewhere else – and in the end I, and hopefully others, are really pleased with the result.

    I think the key is to keep yourself grounded with the real world, real people, nature, and your health. Keeping perspective with time also helps. not easy though!
    .-= juliette´s last blog ..wool = cozy decor =-.

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  2. My Owl Barn commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 3:19pm

    I am not an artist but I am in a very competitive service industry. I work with a company which is a pioneer of its industry. We often hear new, emerging companies comparing themselves with us in terms of the product they provide. No, we don’t feel jealous, we feel proud. My company’s CEO says that “if one some is copying you that means you are not only good but the best and worth copying”.
    .-= My Owl Barn´s last blog ..Gwdih?: 100% Cute =-.

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  3. Jessica commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 3:22pm

    I think its a mixed bag and a lot about perception. As someone who still works a full-time job with only so much time and money to devote to my own work or freelance, I totally get envious when at 11am someone has posted up something they’ve been working at within their very own full-time studio or a new client that has enabled them to complete a portfolio gold star. I have to remind myself that its hard work to live that life too, and that nothing is perfect and that the old saying of “the grass is always greener” really is true.

    On the other hand, it’s constant inspiration and renewed drive to keep pushing at goals and not let them fall by the way side. I’ve met tons of cool people and sharing is what artists love to do, whatever faculty they find themselves in.

    So there are my rambly thoughts on the matter.

    Jessica

    Jessica
    .-= Jessica´s last blog ..Spicy White Chicken Chili =-.

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  4. Autumn commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 3:24pm

    This is such a well-timed TIO for me! I’ve always been a really confident designer, but my work almost exclusively centered on custom design for a client – a totally different process than designing my own lines. Starting from scratch with a blank screen and an enormous (potentially overwhelming) ocean of inspiration out there… well, it’s hard! Harder than I ever expected.

    I really try to allow other work to inspire/inform rather than make me panic or a lose confidence. I do look at other stationery – I want to keep a finger on that pulse. But, to design I try to look exclusively at beautiful real weddings, and imagine stationery I would design for them. It’s been very helpful, and still allows me to keep in touch with trends/ideas of my industry without being tempted to copy other ideas OR doubt my own. Thanks Holly!
    .-= Autumn´s last blog ..Custom Stationery Design =-.

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  5. tammy commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 3:27pm

    Oooh interesting post and glad you got some flowers in for me…atleast a lovely photo.

    I get peeved when I see similar stuff, it drives me bonkers but I guess its good to know there are people akin to our good tastes no? It happens alot n the flower world let me tell you…us all loving the new vintage look, but equally its satisfying when you see designs similar to yours but executed badly…and you’re right re Cameron and Drew….each to our own, whatever makes the world go rounderoonie!

    xx

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  6. Bri commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 3:31pm

    When I start clicking on all of the great blogs and sites and things out there, I do start to get really overwhelmed. I think that it’s really important not to try to create right away – instead I take a step back and let all of the information simmer, and then try to use that for inspiration. But yeah, I get totally overwhelmed and feel worthless a lot so that happens too. That’s when it becomes nice to have a helpful close group of creative friends to cheer you up, because fellow design-minded people have a lot of sympathy when it comes to that, and you’re more willing to take their opinion of your work since they have a background in it.
    .-= Bri´s last blog ..And I’m Off =-.

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  7. Emily commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 3:40pm

    I am a competitor for sure, and I find myself jealous of others talent. I enjoy to do photography and painting but I don’t consider myself talented. I wish I had the talent of others and find that I love others work and find it inspiring even if I do get a little jealous.
    .-= Emily´s last blog ..~Wilde Style~ =-.

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  8. Pati N commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 3:40pm

    Your post was great. Thank you for your insight and wisdom. I struggle everyday with insecurities and self doubts. I just started making purses in my home to sell in my little town. I have a craft sale this weekend, and while I don’t think someone else will be making what I do,if there was I would be threatened. I know it is my problem tho and would really try to have love in my heart. I know the emotion I feel is not right, as it stems from me and my stuff. It is a constant battle reading beautiful blogs and seeing so many wonderful homes online and in print. Here is where you come in…Thanks again for your insights into finding your style and knowing who you are! You have really stretched me to try to know myself and my style better. I know I have my own style, but I am trying to clean it up and see it a lot clearer. Everyday I learn something new reading your and many more blogs. They have become my inspiration and my morning ritual. I do some days just “mark all as read” because I just cannot see one more awesome home, perfect family…beautiful women designer…I just get full, and the best thing I can do for myself is step away and try to be grateful for what I do have. Someday that is easier then some…

    Well there is my rant…could say more, but back to sewing….Lunch is over.

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  9. aimee commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 3:40pm

    I don’t compare myself to others, I learned how not to do that in college where it is very easy to feel “less than” or even confused when you feel someone’s work “isn’t soooo great, and the professor/class thinks it’s “awesome”. Sometimes you just aren’t gooing to “get it” and that’s ok.
    It’s true that we are all blessed in different ways. I try to look at everything in a positive light, focus on what I do well and when I find someone I think “awesome” I let them know!! I’ve never been that competitive, and try to stay away from ugliness or snarkiness.

    I find a TON of inspiration in others work and success. I like to see good people who work hard succeed. I like having people to look up to and to cheer for.
    .-= aimee´s last blog ..Etsy love:: Thanksgiving printables =-.

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  10. Sara commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 3:43pm

    I have a teeny theory that men (boys) learn at an early age to get their aggression out on the field and leave it there. Girls are not encouraged to play and compete physically like boys are, so it builds and builds until they can prove themselves through other actions… and since it can’t be scored by points or goals, we “score” it through our very harsh eyes.

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  11. Mausumi commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 4:10pm

    What a good topic! I think we all should take a moment and reflect on how we stand, it’s easy to compare and be overwhelmed if you haven’t been thinking about this at all..

    I don’t really compare myself to others, but sometimes I do with I was as talented as some of the artists I come about online. I usually find inspiration in other genres than my own (I’m a writer) and hence, I don’t really see the point in comparing.

    Personally though, I am very competitive when I meet someone in person who do the same as I do. I’m trying to avoid it, but it is hard to find your place and accept it when you are in the beginning of your career.
    .-= Mausumi´s last blog ..Daily inspiration: Circus =-.

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  12. Colette commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 4:12pm

    I don’t use blogs as a measuring point but as inspiration. Maybe it’s because I have a very traditional style and a lot of design blogs out there have a much more modern decorating sensibility, so I can’t compare myself. I’ve actually found that other bloggers are incredibly supportive through their comments to each other. It makes me want to stretch myself to be my best.

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  13. ReginaDarling commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 4:15pm

    I love to see and read about all the wonderful things out there. But I do get carried away sometimes with the oh-my-gosh-am-I-good-enough stuff and it really isn’t helpful. We are all wonderful at what we do and we are all talented. I had to learn to see things that way. Sometimes I struggle, but I do everything I can to encourage creativity and beauty in my life and the lives of those around me. And I find, by staying positive I become a better designer.

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  14. Nem commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 4:23pm

    In the past I have felt overwhelmed by the amount of talented and creative people out there, especially the jewellery designers. But that had more to do with me and the fact that I didn’t know where I wanted to go with my jewellery. Now that I have found my creative voice those feelings have disappeared. I just want to be true to myself whatever happens. :) I think you’re right when you say that everyone wants something different and we all have our own unique tastes – someone will want your product you just have to reach the right market, I guess.
    .-= Nem´s last blog ..Behind the Scenes =-.

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  15. sideoats + scribbles (Lisa) commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 4:27pm

    What a great topic — and timely too — I was discussing it with co-workers the other day. My feeling is that the world is big enough for everyone, and that we should do what makes us personally happiest. Set our own goals and meet them.

    In my work, that’s doing what the client requests to the best of my ability and understanding of what they want.

    In my play, it’s having fun and enjoying the process of creating. 20 years from now, if I can look at a piece and think that I did my best and enjoyed the process, that’s what matters to me.

    And, I love being inspired by all of the blogs out there! It’s like going to a chocolate shop, but without the calories. :)
    .-= sideoats + scribbles (Lisa)´s last blog ..Friday the 13th: best day of the week yet! =-.

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  16. Bea commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 4:42pm

    Yes, I sometimes feel completely overwhelmed by all the talent I see online and it makes me feel very small… But I have decided to go on and make my little steps because what I do is really important to me and so I am trying to focus on this. I know that I have learned so much and I will learn so much more and that is something that makes me going on. And I am proud about my little succcesses and it’s great to know that I can also make someone happy with what I do!
    Thank you so much for your posts that make me think about what I do!

    Liebe Grüße

    Bea

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  17. Jamilyn commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 5:00pm

    Great post, and very thought provoking. I am not a designer, although I would love to be. I find that the more I look at on-line, in regards to design for my own home that I do become overwhelmed and I then loose faith in what it is I like. It is information overload. There are so many different ways to do things, sometimes I don’t know which way to go. It must be tough to stand out in that kind of enviornment.

    Enjoyed reading this~ jamilyn
    .-= Jamilyn´s last blog ..Time For My Drama Marathon! =-.

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  18. Emma commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 5:00pm

    I find that this whole blogging/twitter/facebook age or community rather is just enhancing our busy lives. Throughout the nineties everyone was commenting on how much busier/hectic lifestyles were getting, especially for women, and into this century things have got worse and I think it’s mainly due to the overload of information available. It is exhausting. At the same time, for my business Little Miss Emma Designs, I find researching other shops and businesses similar to mine inspire me and make me strive harder. It can reach a certain point though – after so much inspiration and push, push , push I can often fall in a heap and find it ALL TOO MUCH! I have to really remember that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. I get frustrated sometimes because (of course) I think my products are great! Why doesn’t everyone? You have to remind yourself, different horses for different courses. Learn from that and MOVE FORWARD. Judging yourself on others is like taking one step forward and two steps back.
    .-= Emma´s last blog ..{ Good Hair Day } =-.

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  19. sly_fox commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 5:04pm

    What an extremely perceptive and timely TIO topic …
    As a “maker” just starting to get a trickle of by-commission clients, I wrestle with these issues constantly.
    Unprecendented access to review contemporary design by hundreds if not thousands of artists and craftspeople – through internet and design piblications and maker fairs – generates paradoxical reactions.

    The first is “this is OUR time !”
    I revel in the new bigness of Small; this a great time to be a creative entrepreneur. I am inspired by what I see. Beautiful objects and great ideas push me to “what if”, to consider new materials and techniques, to stretch my concept of useful beauty and beautiful use. Spiritually, I am moved, humbled, by seeing a planetary trend of creative expression blossoming from every direction, of immediate sharing of images and ideas through the internet. And there’s a sense of generosity – when artists teach and share their techniques, when fledgling talent is encouraged, when we get out of fear-based “idea hoarding” and into the fearlessness of owning the irreplaceable unqiueness of what can come out of us, and us alone.

    The second is that sinking feeling of comparison. Dazzled by the ingenuity, raw talent, techcal skill, business savvy – whatever it is that I am admiring about someone else’s artwork, product, success trajectory, lifestyle – I see my deficiencies reflected harshly back on me. Looking at the sea of talented creatiove entrepreneurs, I wonder if there really is a place for me, a market niche, whether I am talented enough, driven enough, if what I make is good enough … these are painful questions.

    Ultimately, though, I tend to be inspired. I keep saying “all these people can do it – why not you ?” And I also believe that it is better to be unique and true to yourself when Small , than struggle to be all things to all people. Your eye, your hand, your sense of color, your technical proficiency or charming lack of it, the tension or looseness of your stitching …your clients get this and want this specifically. The sense of inadequacy recedes when I focus on this.

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  20. Jesse commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 5:06pm

    Ooh, it’s such an easy little pit to fall into, and such a difficult one to crawl out of! I (hopefully) learn a little more with each cycle and pull myself out a bit sooner. The first time I struggled with this was at art school; I worked twice as hard, doing work in class to try to get good marks, and work at home that was just for me. Eventually I developed confidence in the private work and I ended up exhibiting that for my degree show (and got good marks, better than I would have with my trying for good marks work). The important thing was that working at home, just for me, allowed me to work without worrying about how ‘good’ the work was and without comparing it to anyone else’s.

    I try to remember that experience now, when I start worrying about whether things will sell, and thinking that everyone else’s work is so much better, and seeing work that I don’t ‘get’ doing well. I try to separate my blog reading from my work, and enjoy it as a consumer; and then when I work, things that have inspired me will creep in, but unconsciously and changed and filtered through memory and my tastes.

    It’s not easy, but it helps to feel that these things have nothing to do with me! They are someone else’s work. My ideas should come from inside me, not outside.

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  21. Rosalia commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 5:10pm

    Holly,

    You’re blog post was written just in time!:)

    I’ve recently just started checking out blogs, & it has been a bit overwhelming see the stuff that’s out there. I’ve come across some people & art that’s really made me think about myself, some of it bad I guess cause I feel very confused as to what my passions are at the moment. I’m expecting my 2nd child, a surprise baby that will be joining my family in April & I just feel like all this makes me want to get out there & do something. I’m sure what exactly because there are just so many ideas & inspirations running through my head! I don’t know where to begin!!! I do know that want I spend more time with my family, share & learn some of the wonderful things that this life has to offer, so blogs & my bebe have also definitely been an eye-opener.

    It’s true what you wrote… “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. I’ve taken that for granted sometimes. I’m going to keep that in mind more often. Because sometimes, when we forget, we let those bad inner criticisms get the best of us, even when there are others that try to reassure things are not the way we see them sometimes. they see our beauty, why can’t we?

    :)

    I think it’s time!!!

    Thanks!!

    <3

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  22. cara commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 5:48pm

    thank you. i keep talking myself out of selling my stuff because of reasons like this. we weren’t created to live in comparison. how it stifles us from our potential!!!

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  23. lindsay commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 6:23pm

    Your example of Drew and Cameron cracks me up. It also takes the idea out of context, makes it less personal, and gets the point across. You can’t be everything to everyone. And appearances can be deceiving… I may think another artist has it all, but in reality perhaps they wish they had more time with their kids and less deadlines/latenights. Like you said, shoot for your personal best, that’s really all you can do.
    .-= lindsay´s last blog ..Indie Gift Guide ? Wearables for Her =-.

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  24. this humble abode commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 6:29pm

    Thank you so much for bringing up this topic! I would never have described myself as a jealous person until the last few years. It has really hit hard, and I am struggling with it a lot.

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  25. Chloe commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 6:38pm

    You have a very beautiful and wise heart, Holly.

    Just in reading your thoughts on this topic, I see that you are very deserving of your prominent place in the design blog world.

    Continued Blessings!

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  26. sungting commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 6:58pm

    Hi there!
    I found your post very encouraging. I am new in this blogging thing. And also new in trying to sell my crafts online. Most of the time, its discouraging, but I try to continue doing what I love.

    I do get the feeling that others are better and I am way down below all of you! Sometimes, it makes me want to give up, or I lose inspiration for a few days. I don’t want to be copying the work of others, so I take a break, and not look at other’s blogs for a few days. Then I go out to my favorite places and find new inspiration from the things i love =]

    Thanks again for posting this story!
    sungting
    .-= sungting´s last blog ..SNOWFLAKE Wallpaper Freebie =-.

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  27. Diana commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 7:13pm

    Not design, of course, but when I see other photographers’ work that I admire I usually just feel inspired and happy. Looking through many, many, many inspirational examples has helped me decide what direction to take my own work in, what areas I want to focus on.

    I’ve been ripped off before – obviously people can’t take the same exact photo but in this case I was credited as being the inspiration and then the exact same setup and feel of a shot was created. Being credited didn’t really help when the person started selling their image at the same shows I was at with my version. But you know what, it still didn’t piss me off that much. Partly my personality I think – I’m pretty laid back. Partly the specifics of the situation – I knew the person, I was credited after all, it only happened the one time, our styles are otherwise very different, etc. etc.

    Sometimes I get frustrated – I wouldn’t say jealous – but frustrated if I see that someone’s achieved something I haven’t been able to figure out yet. And I get frustrated if someone’s taken the shot I dreamed of – I like to be original :-)

    I honestly get more envious of those people who seem to be able to balance their creative businesses with their lives so beautifully. But I try to remember that not everything is as it seems and they all have their share of stresses too.

    My biggest fear about “inspiration overload” is that I’ll subconsciously end up following someone’s work too closely when making my own. So far I don’t think that’s happened – whew!
    .-= Diana´s last blog ..Hump Day Happiness =-.

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  28. Laura commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 7:37pm

    I’ve felt everything you’ve wrote. And it’s so coincidental the timing of your post. Only since yesterday have I decided to not worry about what’s out there, and just focus and concentrated on my own work. I’ve felt my work was worthless , I’m ahsamed to say for months if not longer. It’s stifled my productivity and my belief in what I do. And therefore, I have been making close to nothing. There is always someone better, richer, prettier ect. but I’m determined to appreciate my little world and in turn be a blessing to others in whatever way I can. Thanks you so much for sharing your thoughts on here. You’re so inspiring and thoughtful.
    .-= Laura´s last blog ..Linen Love =-.

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  29. Yvonne commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 7:40pm

    It is definitely overwhelming when you see other people’s creative expressions and start comparing them to your own…and wonder if you should still continue creating. There is a fine line between being inspired by someone’s work and being oppressed by your own feelings of inadequacies. We are all inclined to feel ill at ease when we judge ourselves inferior to others.

    There are days when I feel inspired and start creating. On days when I feel overwhelmed, I just step back and do something else. Then I’ll come back and look at my work with fresh eyes.
    .-= Yvonne´s last blog ..Two =-.

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  30. Victoria Bennett Beyer commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 7:45pm

    I subscribe to the ‘it’s all been done before’ theory. While no one has taken THE EXACT photograph that I just took, it doesn’t mean that something very similar hasn’t been taken before. I don’t get my feathers ruffled when I see something similar, for one, because I’m hardly a trendsetter. And other photogs/artists shouldn’t get thier feathers ruffled either, because there are an infinite number of places to find inspiration.

    No one wants to be copied, but at the same time, how do you know you were the first? For some products/areas it’s clearer than others, but for photography, at least, there’s no way you can feel you ‘created’ a style or angle. When looking at other people’s work, I find myself thinking, “I’ve never seen something that way before,” and I may try an angle or style I never have before. I end up learning through those experiences- sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t and you always end up making it your own – and that’s growing as an artist.

    That said, I think it must be much more difficult to be a designer, as you are creating for clients/customers and not just yourself.
    .-= Victoria Bennett Beyer´s last blog ..Thankful For: Sunny Days =-.

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  31. Fiona Richards commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 8:02pm

    Random thoughts on this topic – I’ve been a self employed designer for 25 years. One of the things i have learned over the last 5 years as a producer is that buyers in the gift industry want the latest and greatest. So as a designer, you need to stay away from every design bandwagon that comes your way – in fact, run in the other direction! You may be able to produce something just as lovely but if you are planning on making art, design or craft your livelihood then you have to be on the leading edge – as soon as you notice a design trend it’s too late to copy it.
    If you can keep your work to yourself while you still have an original idea – and then launch your product into the market in a big way, then you can ‘own’ that idea. I don’t believe in releasing your great ideas out to the world to early. There’s a reason that Apple keeps all their big ideas a secret!
    The most original ideas probably come from within -they don’t come from ‘inspiration overload’ – they come from nurturing your own creative soul.
    It’s too easy as a fresh designer to want to show everyone your work – My advice is too keep it to yourself until you have a plan.
    .-= Fiona Richards´s last blog .. =-.

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  32. Victoria Bennett Beyer commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 8:20pm

    I may be starting to ramble, so forgive me, but I guess I mean to say, too, that I think no one creates in a vacuum. I think everything is inspired by something (not necessarily someone else’s art), and maybe with the internet it is easier to find things that do inspire you.

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  33. cary commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 8:23pm

    It’s funny you should blog about this…I was thinking about it today.The competition between photogs.I have gotten envious of other photographers -mainly for having a thriving business.I was looking into taking one of these “thriving” photogs workshops and read a few(hundred) harsh reviews about their workshop. Realized wow…this was not what I thought it was. Then I thought about what stress she must be feeling with all this neg. stuff out there about her.These reviews that never go away. I realized I wasn’t missing out on anything. The whole looking more sucessful than you really are, pretending you know more than you really do, all of that creeps into the creative world too.which is sad.

    I look at Andy Warhol’s work and think wow…the marketing this guy had being an Ad guy at first and bringing that savy to the art world.How envious am I of that guy! But I don’t think wow if I could mass produce art like him then I will have made it…ya know?

    The balance of staying true to yourself -your art and make a living doing what you love.Thats to me is the hard part.Not selling out.
    .-= cary´s last blog ..More Carrie Bradshaw…. =-.

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  34. Katie commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 8:28pm

    I think dealing with rejection is really hard. You finally get up the courage to email a blog or online shoppe or real life shoppe and they say thanks so much but no….it’s tough I think that’s when I feel less than, that I’m not good enough I suck blah blah all typical artist feelings anyway ;) but they pass and I re-focus on the work because actually working is what makes me happy so it doesn’t really matter. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the marketing/rejection blog promotion part of it but really that’s not why I paint and make things so I just have to take a moment and remember that. Thanks so much for blogging on this topic!!!

    Oh and I do think part of it is being a woman and being brought up to think we can’t be artists or we don’t deserve praise etc. it’s a hard socialization battle.
    .-= Katie´s last blog ..Sister Spit Poster Spring 2010!!!!!!!!! =-.

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  35. pilgrim commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 8:33pm

    i need to frame this post or maybe enlarge it and plaster it over my inspiration board! maybe tattoo it on my eyelids? my point is this is something i need to be reminded of again and again. well done holly, and thank you.
    .-= pilgrim´s last blog ..hot & not: november 18th =-.

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  36. veronika commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 8:56pm

    Very interesting topic. I felt so inspired I blogged about it myself:). Thank you.
    .-= veronika´s last blog ..christmas project 2 & 3 :) =-.

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  37. Julia commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 9:19pm

    I have realized that I go through a whole host of emotions with regards to looking at other people’s work. I start out thinking that I really need to look at other photographers…for ideas, inspiration, and motivation. I inevitably end up comparing their work to my own. I go through my own portfolio and rip it apart. Then I tell myself…forget them…just be yourself….I seem to do this every time before I have a job. I don’t know it this is good or bad. Sometimes I do get some new ideas but it seems like a painful way to do it.

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  38. charmaine commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 9:28pm

    “Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.” -Salvador Dali
    Similarly, just go out there and do your thing. And be fearless whilst you’re doing it! Fret not what other people are up to, cause i’m pretty sure they feel the same as you. (:

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  39. Pip Lincolne commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 10:16pm

    Oh such an interesting subject! I’ve certainly had my issues with some of this stuff. I think the great thing about the internet is that free flow of information and inspiration. I think that like most things, it can be used for good and evil… When I see people copying others, piggybacking on the talent of others or taking credit for the ideas of others, it diminishes those people, in my eyes. I just don’t visit them any more. On the other hand when i see someone following their own path and doing great original stuff, it makes my heart sing and they are forever in my bookmarks!

    I think a lot of nastiness goes on, re copying : more and more people taking very public swipes at others for ripping off their work. Sometimes I think the swipes are unwarranted, and are over very generic, universal designs. Other times it’s obviously completely derivative. But this sort of copying happened before the internet – I think there will always be silly people who reproduce the work of others hoping to get away with it. There will always be people who call themselves designers – when really they are the middle man between a REAL artist and the Marketplace. It’s a bit sad, isn’t it?

    I think most people have the best of intentions, however, and that we should remember to keep things in perspective and devote MOST of our energy to our real life friends, family and endeavours. Things can get so mixed up and inauthentic online.

    I really do love the inspiration and information the internet provides… Sometimes it is all too much. It’s all too perfect or competitive. I think it’s best to click away when things feel like that:: and go hang out on the Swedish craft and vintage blogs where things seem pretty, real and less competitive!
    .-= Pip Lincolne´s last blog ..:: Next Week :: A Week Of Hellos and Happy Things =-.

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  40. stephanie commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 11:12pm

    Great post! I am in the industry of fashion design, and it’s very competitive. I constantly feel inadequate, especially looking at other people my age or even younger! But I don’t obsess about it. I just keep doing what I do and set goals. To get through the next 2 months I have a vacation at the end waiting for me! That is very good motivation to keep on keeping on!

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  41. Sandi commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 11:15pm

    I HATE competition. Not being one of the popular girls in highschool, as you put it, I learned very early on how useless & ugly competition is, and how much energy it sucks out of you. How effective is that in our own lives? If people work in teams and encourage each other, everyone wins! I have very much come into contact with competition, especially as designers during college. But it’s sooo unnecessary! It makes me sad even when friends are secretly comparing themselves to each other. I already have to deal with competition in the industry, why would I want to with friends? In the blog world too, I see so much that inspires me, and that’s all I want it to be, inspiration! I definitely don’t feel, or at least try very hard not to get too overwhelmed or depressed that I didn’t come up with the idea. We all have different situations in our lives, and thus our design will all be different, but a good different!
    .-= Sandi´s last blog ..reflections of fall =-.

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  42. stephanie commented
    November 19th, 2009 at 11:28pm

    Also I wanted to say that your increased writing and the TIO’s have really made me connect with your blog more, visit it more often, read posts more thoroughly and even read comments!

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  43. alex sunday commented
    November 20th, 2009 at 12:48am

    good topic! being creative is a hobby not a job for me, but for a while i was getting frustrated by seeing people using the same techniques that i use and making a living from it. i had to recognise that they’ve chosen to follow their passion while i’ve chosen the sensible career option. what i now take from seeing the same people heading for world domination (ok, exaggerating) is “hey, if they can do it, i’ll be able to do it too!”. i know that there’s room for us all and the only thing holding me back is not being brave enough to take the leap, and i really can’t blame that on my future competitors. :)
    .-= alex sunday´s last blog ..Shards…. =-.

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  44. kt commented
    November 20th, 2009 at 1:18am

    before there were blogs i was a magazine junkie(well i still am) i would get so inspired by them(mags) then came along blogs and it was like Holey Tomoley! look at all this creativity out there! i get inspired constantly but i do also have to back away from blogs to get my own stuff accomplished. i can catch myself being both happy and envious at times, but then when i really step back from it “happy” wins over.
    kt
    .-= kt´s last blog ..one black and white for wednesday =-.

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  45. Jenn commented
    November 20th, 2009 at 3:02am

    I have been copied before and I would get really sick over it. Not mad but just felt sick to my stomach…but then I realized, EVERYONE everywhere copies everyone and everything! There will be an awesome new design or concept on Etsy…give it a week or two and everyone is doing it! I see it ALL THE TIME!

    So it’s everywhere…and I know it makes others feel bad because I have talked to many people about it, especially when it’s blatant copying…but you know, it’s a big world and people have all sorts of ideas. Sometimes they are out to copy because they are not creative and they are inspired by you and they don’t have any other thing going for them. You have to feel sorry for people like that. Not a creative bone in their body!

    So, I just try to ignore those copying me. I do my best and that is all I can do. I do try to buy from those who I know were the first of their kind or who started a trend…but that’s not always easy to do, especially if the one copying makes the idea even better than it was to begin with. Darn those copiers!!!
    .-= Jenn´s last blog .. =-.

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  46. diana strinati baur commented
    November 20th, 2009 at 3:16am

    Holly, girl, you are hitting on some interesting themes!

    Ok, I’ll share. I am not a designer and I started in ceramics after a long career doing other things. When we decided to do a B&B I was dreadfully insecure about how it would look and come off, especially in a foreign country. I met a couple of people, also foreigners, also doing this kind of concept…one was a designer. When I saw her place the first time, I went home and cried for hours. I felt like a complete failure. I was booked, mind you, but her place was much more designed than mine would ever be. (Living in a foreign country and starting a business puts you so far out of your comfort zone to begin with that getting knocked down happens way too easily anyway).

    At that point, I found you and a host of other design blogs which helped me slightly altar my rooms and general look and also gave me the sense that I really did know what going on off of my hill here in the country.

    Some guests came here after staying at the other, more “designed” properties. They, without exception, said they felt more comfortable here — I had better lighting for reading, bedside tables, more general comfort in the rooms — and that they felt my rooms were more like home. That was a valuable lesson for me to trust my own instincts. BUT I love updating my own ideas with the things I find here, Holly! And I thank you for that. For example, I was looking at colorful glass candlesticks on one of your recent posts yesterday. Then in the middle of the night, i woke up and wrote in my journal “think about making colorful ceramic candlesticks”. Which I am going to give a try! That’s positive inspiration, it does not intimidate me, and it brings me further.

    So on this Friday, thank you for doing what you do in a way that does not intimidate, but rather inspires!
    .-= diana strinati baur´s last blog ..new art =-.

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  47. Judy commented
    November 20th, 2009 at 5:38am

    I think I had self doubt and insecurities before I started blogging anyway. I grew up in London and I just felt overwhelmed more than inspired by the time I reached my terrible twenties. Now I live in a small town in Catalonia and there is a wonderful lack of almost everything here. No shortage of great food though! So seeing the world through blogs started making me feel really cut off and I wished I had stayed at home and tried to go to a posh college and follow the conventional art and design root, maybe I would be a full time illustrator or artist now, who knows? But I have been so inspired by this culture, country, language, people and food that I know I made the right choice for me. Now I’m starting to get back into art again after losing all my confidence as a creator and the truth is that I have learnt so much from blogs it has been a fantastic source of inspiration. Even though I can’t really get into blogging myself, maybe one day I’ll make more time for it, looking at blogs and seeing what other people are doing has HELPED MORE THAN IT HAS HINDERED! And for that I am very thankful.

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  48. Evelyn commented
    November 20th, 2009 at 11:34am

    How you view great work is a reflection of what you feel about yourself. If you feel confident in your work then you admire what others are doing. You get inspired by a texture, a color scheme, a shape. It helps you create more of your vision. When I’m looking at images, I’m usually talking out loud to myself “this girl has serious talent” or “i have fallen in love with this room” or I think “with a slight adjustment, this would be even more fabulous” or “I love this delicate line here…hmmm…how to use this”.

    I’ve found elements of my work in others within our creative sphere of influence. Just as I’ve been inspired by certain concepts from other work. Its like an ocean of inspiration and all these ideas are waves, rippling, running into one another and merging.

    But I admit its really hard to run into your work when its blatantly copied by a non-designer. The worst for me was when my wedding, completely customized to reflect my heritage, my romance and my family, was ripped off with the snidest of attitudes by a family member. There was a moment of shock and then an explosion of laughter when I realized that this woman had not a iota of originality and no ability whatsover to express herself creatively. But seeing all my deeply personal concepts repeated was painful. I mean, I incorparated old movies I watched as a child, my grandparents’ romance, my favorite designers’ signature lace patterns, my favorite flowers, colors that reminded me of a countryhome I spent summers at. It was hard to see “me” wrapped around someone else and the entitled attitude that “me” was actually more “her” and that I had merely been the factory hand.

    Artists influencing artists? I love it! Non-designers with no grasp of what goes into great design? Not so much…

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  49. Katherine commented
    November 20th, 2009 at 11:35am

    I just blogged about this myself last Thursday (great minds) because I spend an inordinate amout of time by reading through a kazillion & one blogs every day (to fill my days at work, sadly). It’s very easy to get caught up in what others are doing vs what you’re doing or to compare your work to others’. I don’t want to give up reading blogs because I really do enjoy seeing the wealth of creativity & imagination & talent out there, so I’ve made a concious effort to view it all as inspiration instead of comparison…trusting that there’s PLENTY of success to go around for every single person pursuing his/her dreams, creatitivity, lives, art, etc.

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  50. kinga commented
    November 20th, 2009 at 1:06pm

    What a great topic. Thank you for posting about this Holly!

    As others have mentioned, it is a very timely post. I am in the midst of starting up my own “small” business of stationery/letterpress/home-goods, most of which is hand made and intentionally kept small enough so that I can do it all myself. So, I find great inspiration in reading about and seeing the work of others who are doing “their own thing” and doing it their own way. It makes me feel like maybe I can do it too, “my way”.

    I’m not competitive, to the point where my parents used to fight with me for refusing to go to my kung-fu competitions when I was a kid (I ultimately quit because of my disdain for “fighting against the other guy”). In highschool I was yearbook editor and hid behind a camera for four years watching and observing. I was able to use the camera as a bridge into all kinds of events, groups and situations. I love diversity and refused to “compete” with any one group so I floated between all of them, observing (in a totally non-creepy way). I was confident and stuck to my own beliefs. I had faith in myself and my abilities.

    And then college happened. I went to school for graphic design and for the most part really loved it. I had amazing teachers and made life-long connections with some inspiring people while developing a love for design. But the competition I could have done without. That intensely competitive environment completely unravelled me and broke down my confidence in myself and my abilities. It turned me into someone I did not like or recognize. Like I said, I don’t do well in competitive environments and school forced us to compete against eachother, to win that next design contest, to be the one featured on the glossy pages of design magazines, to work at the swankiest, most well known design studios etc. etc. ad infinitum…Needless to say I came out of school feeling like I wasn’t good enough and scared to enter the industry because of how competitive it is. And yes I found myself comparing my accomplishments (or lack of) to what my peers were doing and telling my husband that I desperately need my good friend CONFIDENCE back.
    Then, I took a big step back and took a long hard look at my life and what I want for myself. I’m completely unlearning that I have to compete, or be better than someone else. Instead I aspire to create some great work that first inspires ME and if by some small miracle others find the work inspiring, I will take that as the highest payment anyone could give me, count my blessings, and pay it forward. I have many moments of doubt, we all do, but to answer the question, I do find blogs and seeing the work of others very inpsiring in a positive way; it inspires me to be brave and put myself out there like others have despite their own fears and doubts.

    Thanks to sly_fox for putting it into words this way:
    “…there’s a sense of generosity – when artists teach and share their techniques, when fledgling talent is encouraged, when we get out of fear-based “idea hoarding” and into the fearlessness of owning the irreplaceable unqiueness of what can come out of us, and us alone.”

    We all need to encourage eachother, and blogs do a great job of that. There’s room for all of us out here.
    Thanks Holly! Decor8 is part of my daily routine and inspires me every single day. I wish you all the best!

    As a great lady once said…” No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” – E. Roosevelt

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  51. Chelsey commented
    November 20th, 2009 at 1:57pm

    It’s nice to read that I’m not the only one who has gone through this!

    I have a mantra of sorts, a reminder for myself – reframe. Whenever I get discouraged or stuck, I try to look at things differently. While it may seem at the time that what I’ve made isn’t good enough, I try to think of it as an opportunity to change what I’m doing. Nothing has to be set in stone. I’ve learned that if I let it, competition can make me push myself the do what I do better. In the end, I become a better designer.

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  52. gina commented
    November 20th, 2009 at 2:27pm

    I will confess to obsessing on one specific occasion where my design (right down to the last detail) was copied, I was fuming! After a whole day of spinning my wheels, I figured that it was so obvious, that others had to see it too, and that would have to be enough. On the other hand it motivated me to look into copyright protection, ultimately an important step if you plan to grow a small business or take advantage of other opportunities. It also helped me focus on what is unique to me and things I like make. Seeing an abundance of great and successful work completely inspires me, leads me to dream a little bit that I too could have the same success. When I am working intensely on new designs, I don’t look at other work- but rather focus on what has inspired me to make something NEW, honestly, it can be very easy to let inspiration carry you too far. Staying true to yourself, is always original.

    Thanks Holly for asking the question, giving us a place to share :)
    .-= gina´s last blog ..Iphone Camera Fun =-.

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  53. goshery commented
    November 20th, 2009 at 2:35pm

    What came first, the chicken or the egg! Interesting topic, and one I see bantered about here and there. There will always be those that create and those that copy, so as frustrating as it may be its best to try to consider it a compliment.

    I love to visit shops and blogs to see what people are up to and also to learn more about the artists. I definitely get overwhelmed though, and its also very easy to lose track of time. I try to set aside separate times to work and browse, and that works well for me.
    .-= goshery´s last blog ..Itty Bitty Snowman Cards, set of 6 =-.

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  54. judy lake commented
    November 20th, 2009 at 2:51pm

    great topic and lots of interest. The only reaction I personally get is feeling like the granny of blogging… at all of 50! Yikes, how could it be….

    Living in the boonies is great, but searching design blogs like a trip to the city. I love the freshness of your blog and many other great design blogs. I remember so many zillions of years ago about the question of putting product up on-line; oh dear, they’ll see it and copy it…. of course they will. So be a trend setter and lead the way with a new look or bold color. I love all the fresh contemporary work up on-line, but would it sell in my country shop…. nope, but do I have it in my house? You bet. We design for our market and change comes slow to those outside the big cities.

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  55. lib commented
    November 20th, 2009 at 3:33pm

    i was just feeling overwhelmed as I was looking through my blogroll, and then i came across this post. usually, seeing other people’s work is inspiring, but every once in a while, often it’s when I’m stuck on one of my own projects, it can definitely be discouraging.

    I think a lot of artists struggle with the highs and lows of creativity and insecurity, so it’s been great to read everyone else’s comments and how they deal with it.

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  56. Pauline commented
    November 20th, 2009 at 3:55pm

    I was seriously just talking about this with my husband last night! I had to get it out. I went on and on about how worthless I feel sometimes, because my work isn’t as good as others. But then I realized something.

    My work is just different, and even when others don’t notice my work, it doesn’t mean that I’m not good.

    There is so much inspiration out there, we just have to let it all soak in. I use so many countless blogs for inspiration. It keeps me up to date on fashion trends and what’s hot. That way I can come up with interesting and unique patterns.

    Let us use all of this information to help us become better at what we do!
    .-= Pauline´s last blog ..I’m grateful for… =-.

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  57. Megan commented
    November 20th, 2009 at 5:38pm

    Very well said, i can always rely on you to make me feel better, thank you.

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  58. Chloe C. commented
    November 20th, 2009 at 11:08pm

    my god, what deep f* responses, Holly.
    Many of you echoed what I had been thinking, my only 2c is be yourself.

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  59. Brooke commented
    November 22nd, 2009 at 1:53am

    First of all this is such a great topic, thank you for posting Holly! This happens to me all the time. I know misery shouldn’t love company, but it is nice to hear I’m not alone in this. I agree with so many of the comments here specifically Katie’s about working up the courage to email a blogger and being rejected or not even respected enough to get an answer. It’s sometimes crushing.

    It’s a constant struggle to not compare myself to others and to try and give people the benefit of the doubt and not take things so personally.

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  60. Lisa P. commented
    November 22nd, 2009 at 9:44pm

    Holly, this is a great topic. I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately. I’ve noticed that while I feel excited by all the cool things I see online, it also makes it very hard for me to come up with my own ideas. Then, I begin to feel discouraged because there are so many people out there already doing what I want to do, and can I really come up with something that will be good enough and fresh enough to join in? I’m not sure how to be able to keep an eye on all the great stuff going on in the craft/design world, but still unplug and find my own inspiration. I’ve been trying to figure that out, so I’d love some tips if you ever have the urge to share.

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  61. vineeta commented
    November 23rd, 2009 at 12:43pm

    WOA!! This is calling a spade a spade & I love you for doing that Holly- This happened initially when i started blogging, I would be jealous of blogs which were a lot more poplular than mine, but blogging is so beautiful, it gives & shares so much that beyond a point you find your own strengths & build on it & share it & you know this is your thing to do & then even if someone else is trying to do the same, your joy of creating what you do is so self fulfilling.
    Holly, I am so grateful to you and blogging because here is where I found my voice & here is where I found my floundering creativity. There is so much inspiration to be found here that I most of the time I am more grateful than anything else. But very recently I found a blog which was almost a complete rip off on a fellow bloggers blog- this new blog had tried so hard to copy everything from the style in which the photographs were taken to the topics & even to the way it was written. I found myself getting angrier & angrier as I saw this blog- because not in a single place was there any acknowledgement of the source or the inspiration. I almost left a nasty comment and stopped myself- this was not really my battle. But i did ask myself what I would do if this had happened to me? Then I kind of cooled down. This woman was doing what she did because she couldn’t do any better & tomo she would get better and do original stuff. Its a learning curve I guess. All of us aspire to be better than we are & love a particalar style of someone- and if its a route or the way to reach our original voice- so be it. Writing this comment here for me has really helped me deal with my anger when I saw it & so a big thanx for this post Holly :)
    .-= vineeta´s last blog ..Shelly Kommers =-.

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  62. MichelleP commented
    November 23rd, 2009 at 2:29pm

    Most of the time I find the success of other creatives HUGELY inspiring & motivating. I feel like the path has been forged for smaller businesses to succeed, & opportunity is knocking!

    Every once in a while though, I come upon something that makes me think “Holy crap, I can never compete with that awesomeness!” …Hmmm, you know, I was just thinking that I don’t feel like that when I see the work of famous artists or designers(!) – only people I consider potential peers. How silly is that?
    .-= MichelleP´s last blog ..Free Bokeh Madness =-.

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  63. Leanda commented
    November 24th, 2009 at 7:13am

    Wow… you cannot believe how relevant this is to me!! I have always stopped myself from doing things because I believed I simply wasn’t good enough, or it’s not original and been done before. I’ve had countless lectures by well-meaning friends, telling me I’m talented and crazy to think like this and should just DO IT!! But the little voice in my brain always tells me I’m useless. Well before the dawn of the internet I’d tried my hand at every single creative activity going. I’d gone through art school and everything was a painful, excrutiating challenge. I’ve worked 10 years as a graphic designer thinking everything I did was crap. So how could I hang on to a job so long if I was, huh? Try telling me that. And now, I’m 40, living in a foreign country where I barely speak the language and expecting my first child after 2 years of IVF. Yes, my focus is on that, but I am desperately trying to find ways to create… and sell. I see this as pretty much my last chance. The interenet and blogland is my connection to the world right now, but I see so much good stuff out there it makes me scared to try. I know…. I’m pathetic. I get inspired one day, have a eureka moment, think I’ve found my ‘path’, and the next day it’s gone. I know only I can help myself, but God it’s good to know I’m not the only one. Thank you Holly!
    .-= Leanda´s last blog ..that’s more like it =-.

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  64. Jill commented
    November 24th, 2009 at 6:46pm

    Love the idea of discussing competition and knock-offs. In a time when computer-generated imagery is everywhere, antique dealing product designers are very challenged and must be very careful. I have four people whose work touches on mine in some way and I love to see what they are doing because each of us has a different approach to the same material. I am sometimes downcast at my own inability to conquer the universe of design but I feel very proud when I see my things in such good company. I do get upset when images find their way to some other firm and are reused but I try to remind myself that I have my own audience and – the fact is, they might not see EVERY example of something the way I do. I am the profesional, looking and thinking about looking, they are the end user and in general they don’t spend so much time thinking and looking as I do 0 unless they are making things, too. I say competition is great for business, and competition makes you define yourself your own way. This is what people like to buy in the end, not the copy cat.

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  65. Annie commented
    November 25th, 2009 at 12:23am

    Oh reading this I kept thinking of the Eleanor Roosevelt quote “no one can make you feel inferior except yourself”. We are so often the first to put ourselves down or not think we are “good enough” – when in fact quite the opposite is true. And sometimes it’s jolly hard remembering that! Thanks for the post – a timely reminder :)
    .-= Annie´s last blog ..Beautiful illustrations… =-.

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  66. vicki commented
    November 25th, 2009 at 1:57am

    Holly, I love this new feature on Decor8! It’s great that you can be so transparent with all of us and that you encourage us to do the same. :)

    I think I can pretty much echo what Michelle P. said (above). Most of the time I’m in awe of other people’s talents but there are times when I look at my work, especially my photos, and feel like I’m really lacking the skill and talent of some of my peers. When I first started blogging, I felt somewhat driven to become a recognized blog, but that’s just not important to me anymore. Now I blog for the love of it and for the many great friendships I’ve developed because of it. I’m hoping that I’ll eventually have that carefree attitude about my photography, too. I want to do it for the joy it brings me (and hopefully others) and for no other reason.

    O.k., enough rambling on….thanks for the opportunity to be “real”, Holly. xo!

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  67. mskivaa commented
    December 14th, 2009 at 9:51am

    good point! :)

    but anyway, this whole art & design world are all intertwined. And one took inspirations off others and vice versa. Even we took the liberty to take inspirations out of people’s work, nature, the paper, tv, our dreams, everything! Inspirations are everywhere.

    So, yeah, you’re right. Nobody’s on top of anything. Art & design is unlike the Olympics. :P And beauty it really is in the eye of the beholder.

    Thanks for sharing :)
    .-= mskivaa´s last blog ..Video of the Day : The Orf – R515 =-.

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  68. casapinka commented
    December 25th, 2011 at 2:38pm

    i sometimes feel inferior when I see people with knitting designs that I love. The one, most salient thing to remember, is that there is no moratorium on inspiration. If you are an artist, jealousy, shame, feelings of inferiority suck out the inspiration, while admiration, sharing freely, an open heart and generosity breed inspiration. The world is an abundant place and there’s room for each of us. Merry Christmas!
    casapinka´s last blog post ..Casapinka Dreamliner

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Courses:

Next dates

Blogging Your Way for Beginners
e-course, April 17 – May 15, 2014
Find out more and sign up now.

Styling With Holly Becker
London, May 2014 (Date TBD)