Thought bubble with light bulb inside via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Mad Chatter: Let’s Talk About Creativity and Competition

Warm weather marks the beginning of rooftop season in New York City, and while there are many spots to enjoy the weather, the Met Cantor Rooftop is still the destination both locals and visitors flock to. We were happy to fall in line, so we headed to the Met to check out the latest installation by Pakistani artist Huma Bhabha. We Come In Peace is timely and thought-provoking, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I found it a little anticlimactic. Last year’s installation by Adrian Villar Rojas filled the space beautifully, and the prior year’s installation involved a 30-foot recreation of the facade of the Psycho House. As I wandered onto the relatively empty rooftop on that brisk day, I couldn’t help but think, “Is that it?”

We Come in Peace by Huma Bhabha on the Met Cantor Rooftop in New York City via Mad Hatters NYC Blog
We Come In Peace by Huma Bhabha, Met Cantor Rooftop 2018
White sculpture from Theater of Disappearance by Adrian Villar Rojas on the Met Cantor Rooftop in New York City via Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Theater of Disappearance by Adrian Villar Rojas, Met Cantor Rooftop 2017
Replica of Psycho House as part of Transitional Object (PsychoBarn) by Cornelia Parker on the Met Cantor Rooftop in New York City via Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Transitional Object (PsychoBarn) by Cornelia Parker, Met Cantor Rooftop 2016

There’s a sense of guilt that comes with that reaction. Does art have to be jaw-dropping to be impactful? Huma Bhabha said that the barrenness of the installation was essential. And yet, I was expecting more. Would I have felt the same way if I didn’t have the prior years’ installations to compare it to?

The age of information brings with it unlimited access, but it’s a double-edged sword. Well-known photographers can now have their craft replicated using a simple photo app filter. Copycat artists pop up in a flash. Audiences are becoming more and more difficult to please, and artists are forced to push boundaries further and further. As with everything else, finding a truly fresh and unique voice is becoming more and more challenging.

Street art found in the Lower East Side of New York City that reads "Hustle Harder" by Queen Andrea! via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Street art found in the Lower East Side of New York City that reads "Love Yourself" by Jason Naylor via Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Hustle Harder and Love Yourself… where do you find balance?

Perhaps on a smaller scale, we face a similar conundrum as bloggers. Blogging is a crowded field and has been declared dead many times over. In order to differentiate oneself, bloggers have to speak louder and act faster. We need to have provocative headlines and stunning photos. We have to offer variable media like podcasts and vlogs. (See our last Mad Chatter post on TL;DR and the death of reading.) Will it ever be enough?

We have a nasty habit of trying to measure all our endeavors, and sometimes we do that against benchmarks set by others and sometimes we do that against benchmarks we set for ourselves. In a TED Talk about success, failure and the drive to keep creating, Elizabeth Gilbert sees success and failure as equally jarring and states the following:

“I will always be safe from the random hurricanes of outcome as long as I never forget where I rightfully live”.

The phrase “random hurricanes of outcome” particularly resonated with me. I want to get to a space where that’s all success or failure is: a random outcome of doing what I love.

The idea behind our Mad Chatter posts is to start a conversation, so here’s what I’d like to know:

They say comparison is the thief of joy, and I wonder if that rings true for you. How does comparing yourself to others affect you? Does it cripple you or motivate you? How do you keep yourself inspired?

– L.

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33 Comments on "Mad Chatter: Let’s Talk About Creativity and Competition"

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Trudy
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You are truly starting a conversation today! I compare myself to other bloggers all the time, it’s because it’s still something that I feel that I haven’t “mastered” and I have room to grow on because it covers so many facets. As far as other things that I know that I’m good at without a doubt, comparison is just a measure to better myself, for instance, “How can I make these cookies taste like Levain’s?”. I don’t kill myself with it. If I never get there it’s fine, I know I’m still pretty good in my own rite. To keep… Read more »
Suz
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I am not one for comparing myself to others. We are sort of not in the “norm” shall we say, as we have no kids, no jobs, early retirees and we housesit fulltime with no house back “home” NZ 🙂 Enjoyable post and one that can be discussed even further as Trudy below stated.

Suz
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Forgot to write the art is fantastic, and no I don’t think it has to be jaw dropping to have us reflecting on what the artist is trying to express. Again, what an amazing city you live to explore!!

Lauren
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Great post! I always get extra excited when I see a Mad Chatter email land in my inbox 🙂 I think you make several great points – “random hurricanes of outcome” is really the only way to describe the results of your efforts, though I do think there is something to be said for consistent effort put into a vision to which you are completely sold out. If you have ever read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, he talks about how the mind is an incredibly powerful tool that can be used (along with consistency in your actions)… Read more »
JAM
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Wow, good post and a lot to think about. Knowing “where I rightfully live,” is a whole subject on its own. For me this means not comparing myself to others but learning from others and being inspired by them. Only I live where I rightfully live. It is my space and if I am happy with it, I’m okay. Competition: For me competition is good because it spurs me to reach and stretch my boundaries. I think that means knowing “where you live” while exploring the peripherals. Speaking of art, I am infrequently aligned with art critics. I like art… Read more »
lynn
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Keeping myself inspired hasn’t been much of a problem through the years – I’m endlessly curious (as I think you are) and I get excited pretty easily, about “ordinary” things. As you know, nature is the endless inspiration for me, so I put myself close to nature as much as possible. The comparison trap though has been hard sometimes, but lately, it seems that age helps put traps like that into perspective. It’s not about better/worse, good/bad, more than/less than, it’s about valuing difference. I value the work I see others doing (some of it anyway) and I can learn… Read more »
Cynthia | Adventuring Woman
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Hi Lynn, joining this discussion a bit late, per my usual. 🙁 I think if I engaged in much comparison I’d be so depressed I’d never blog again—which would only be a little less than I do now, lol! Really, as a blogger, all I ever wanted to do was have my own thing, something creative that was just mine, with the effort spent purely on something I care about. I would have created something, regardless of whether or not anyone read it. And if I touched or helped even one person in some small way, made them laugh or… Read more »