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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Trudy
2 years ago

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 »

Trudy
2 years ago

You know what?im working on almond butter cookies at the moment. And I’ll always share. I can relate to the comparison, there are a number of bloggers that I admire and I don’t know if I will ever be that good. And I’m in the same boat with writing things that “flop”. Trying to find my unique voice is hard while writing in your niché. I don’t know how well I am doing and I’ve gone back and deleted things that me think I was nuts to publish. For me it will always be a work in progress. And I’m… Read more »

Suz
Suz
2 years ago

Justin is right Lyn; I am like you when I look back at some of my first ones. It is great that we do look back at past posts. As it shows how much we have improved in our writing and I feel I have still so much to learn about blogging.

Trudy Louis
2 years ago

I have them on private in case I ever change my mind to make them public again. The ones that I deleted were more of chain posts with blogger awards and such. It kind of looks like I am all over the place with those and are just a way to tag other people. I guess it is a good way to network but not if I want a niche. I do feel like I have grown but some days … it totally feels like I’m making it up as I go along in the worst way. Next time we… Read more »

Suz
Suz
2 years ago
Reply to  Trudy

Trudy, I think every blogger is unique even if they are all writing about the same thing. Each person has a different perspective on a place an experience or just life in general. I find that blogging is like penpals in a public arena. The blogs I do not appreciate are the ones that do not reply to comments, are empty and keep posting posts that are so obviously into stats than writing. Rave over 🙂

Trudy Louis
2 years ago
Reply to  Suz

Oh no, I love my comment section! I feel bad if I don’t respond.

Cynthia | Adventuring Woman
Reply to  Suz

Truly what is the point if not responding to comments? I took awhile to respond to some early ones cuz I didn’t know they were there. I’m always thrilled when anybody reads AND comments, it’s so rare!

Cynthia | Adventuring Woman

Trudy I’ll help out with the taste testing too! 🙂

Suz
Suz
2 years ago

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
Suz
2 years ago

Firstly, I write about the animals we care for their families. Then the places we visit during and in between housesits. I now include our motorhoming years as it was a big part of our lives before housesitting. My blog is all about our travels and life in general. To break up the housesitting, I am now doing interviews with artists whom I love to support and I enjoy all forms of art. We see art all different areas of our travel. Do you find I blog about too much? Or do you think it gels together? Most of the… Read more »

Cynthia | Adventuring Woman
Reply to  Suz

Hey Suz would love to check out your blog, could you post the url? Ditto with everyone here!

Suz
Suz
2 years ago

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
2 years ago

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 »

Lauren
2 years ago

Think and Grow Rich, while a ‘cheesy’ title that might give some the wrong impression (it did for me until my dad wholeheartedly recommended it) is a great book and one that speaks to you in a different way every time you read it! Hill wrote it back in the era of the Great Depression and it inspired many people to go on and lead successful lives, despite their immediate life situation. If you end up reading it, I would love to know your thoughts! I’m actually in the process of re-reading it as we speak 🙂 I do agree… Read more »

Cynthia | Adventuring Woman
Reply to  Lauren

So true, just to add my two cents. You inspire me all the time!

JAM
JAM
2 years ago

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
2 years ago

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

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 »