Am I alone in this? We tend to believe that because we’ve seen a few shining examples of achievement in whatever our artistic field is, then by extrapolation, there must be thousands of people producing better work than us. It’s a common belief, I think, but one that you can prove to yourself is totally wrong.
We tend the remember the outstanding works by renown artists. They stand out in our memories and those works become the standard to which we aspire. In doing that, though, what we ignore is that the majority of the artistic output of even the best, most accomplished artists isn’t actually very good – or at least not as good as their very best work.
Take a look around the Internet at other painters posting their work, or other musicians posting their latest songs and mixes, or other writers showing their stories and poems. There are numerous web sites where all comers are encouraged to post their work for others to see, hear or read. Take an honest appraisal of most of these artistic works. Quite a lot of them are pretty good, but still more are not. Very, very few meet the highest standards – the standards you may have internalised and hold your own work up against.
So take heart. Chances are that your work falls into the “pretty good” category, if you are diligent, work at your art and have a little bit of authenticity and inspiration on your side. In any case, you shouldn’t rubbish your own output just because it isn’t the best of the best. And who knows? Maybe with enough application and a little serendipity, you might produce something that others think of as the very paragon of the art.
The point is this: you can never tell. What one person sees as ordinary, another sees as revelatory. Same work, different responses.
The quality bar is in your head and it’s imaginary. You can produce all kinds of different artistic works and you never know – somebody, somewhere will think you’re brilliant. You don’t have to compare yourself with the best of the best of what you like. Others may already see your work in that way.
Whatever you do, don’t ever let the imaginary quality bar make you despair and give up. Think of what you may be denying the people that really love your stuff.