Instead of competition in art

Everything about art-making is set up to be competitive, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Competition in art-making thrives on:

  • “Experts”. Who is one, who isn’t.
  • Limited tangible resources. Art-making costs money, time, opportunities to learn, supplies.
  • Judgment. Snap judgments of the final product, not the process.
  • Scarcity of talent. Assumptions there’s always someone better, faster, younger, etc so what is the point in trying or even starting.

Community in art-making, therefore, can thrive on:

  • Flat hierarchies. Everyone is an expert at making their own art.
  • Sharing. Sharing resources and skill-sharing within art practices- including the ‘how-to’ of making, promoting, teaching, writing, etc.
  • Being non-judgmental. Setting up teaching/workshop and art appreciation spaces that level the playing field, and remove expectations of “perfect”, “finished” or “good” art.
  • Promoting an abundance of talent. Everyone has art to contribute, things to make, reasons to connect.

This is top of mind because I’m bringing together a small group of amateur letterpress printers in Vancouver this summer. Instead of being competitive, we have more to gain by being co-operative. The more letterpress printing there is in Vancouver, the more demand, understanding, and appreciation will exist for this craft.

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