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Jealousy is poison for your art career

I thought “one more time.” And I co-formed a band, two guitarists, a bassist/vocalist, and a drummer. I played lead and rhythm and the other guitarist played rhythm and lead guitars.

We struggled. Barely got by. I was delivering pizza to make ends meet.

The most we ever made in one night was $43. Four people. $43. On sub-standard equipment.

We argued a lot, and on our very last show, we got into an argument mid-song, fighting on stage. The four or five people watching the show probably left by then anyways.

Metal was already dead in the States. Even grunge was about to be on its way out. But we refused to budge. We were Metalheads, God dammit. Lack of audiences be damned.

It ended just like that. After breaking up, I sold my equipment and never touched a guitar again.

(Well, that never lasted 13 years but that’s another story for another day).

Wasn’t always that bad

Five years earlier, I was in a rising band. We were actually writing some pretty cool music and wanted to ride the wave of Bay Area Thrash.

I played guitar 100 mph. Super fast with amazing technicalities. Harmonic minor appegiations at lightning speed? No problem.

But there were also the haters. Bands that we surpassed. So of course, rather than making themselves better, they said bad things behind our backs.

I remember going up to one of the kids who I heard bad mouthed me. Introduced myself and held out my hand.

He made the mistake of putting his hand in mine. I crushed his hand and he almost started crying. I said “I’m sorry. I forgot how strong I am.”

He learned to be careful who to badmouth our band to behind our backs. Definitely not someone who would tell me about it.

But just like that, we never got a good singer. And without a good singer, you go nowhere.

Our manager tried to argue with us that we should be purely an instrumental band. I was proud of my lyrics and wanted them heard.

Looking back, they were cheesy as heck but when you’re 19, you think everything you do is super cool and anyone who says otherwise simply doesn’t get it.

Regardless, their jealousy just made them look like complete idiots. They were jealous of a band that got nowhere too. Just had a few more fans than they did. Yay. Neither of us made any money. Neither of us got famous. It was all for naught.

Happy ending?

Several years and several bands later, I knocked a woman up, initially splitting custody, and ended up getting along. We later got married and raised the kid together.

He turned out emotionally healthy. Served his country and is doing really well in life.

But when he was in high school, I got the itch one more time. This time, just a band that recorded.

The problem was, a million other bands were doing the same thing.

Music was a money pit. Just threw more money in and got pennies back. I probably got 2c for every dollar put in.

After awhile, I decided enough was enough. Plus, my dear friend Joe said “your Metal is run of the mill but your Classical is excellent. You should really pursue a Classical route.”

Honesty. Don’t get much of that around these parts these days.

So that’s exactly what I did. I still and always will love Metal. But enough’s enough. I’m too old for this.

So I switched to painting.

“What does this have to do with jealousy?”

We’re you reading between the lines? The jealous people were jealous for nothing. Jealous of a nobody that nobody’s ever heard of. If I rattled off all the bands I was in in the 80s and early 90s, you’ve never heard of a single one of them. Not one of them recorded anything and not one of them packed a single house.

You know what’s even more pathetic? Being jealous of someone who nobody’s ever heard of.

Yet, those jealous losers did exist.

“What about jealous of bigger people?”

At least that would make a little bit of sense. But think about this for a second. What would that get you? You get absolutely no gain from it.

You’re jealous of someone who doesn’t even know you exist? Think about that. They don’t even know you exist. Why should they care? Why should you care? And why not use that mental energy instead on improving your own self?

Develop some skill sets. Get good at something.

Jealousy accomplishes absolutely nothing. Plus, if you tell someone else how jealous you are of someone, you just come across as a complete loser. Unless that other person is also jealous. Then they’re a loser and you need to pick your friends better.

Surround yourself with people who want to improve. Who want to get better.

The jealous mindset is a poison mindset, and if you’re an artist who is jealous, you’re being an idiot. Instead, spend that energy on improving your art.

Burning bridges

You’ll find that it’s a small world. Especially today with social media.

You can find everyone you went to high school with somewhere. And you know what? Some folks forgive. Most don’t.

You don’t want to burn too many bridges, especially when you need contacts.

If I’m running an art gallery and I really don’t like someone, their work isn’t going in the gallery unless they can make us a lot of money. But if it comes down to that person and someone I’m neutral with, you can guess who I’d pick.

Same thing with anything. Like I said, some folks are forgiving, some aren’t. Jealousy is especially poisonous in the art world because it’s a small world. I personally can’t stand jealous people. I know I’m not the only one.

Even failing is a good thing

Were you able to ride your bike successfully on the first try? Of course not.

But you didn’t quit, right? You can ride a bike today, right?

You get good at something by doing. And even if you fail doing it, no one can take it away from you.

So you didn’t come in first place in your Karate competition. But, you still know Karate. By not winning it all, it’s not like your knowledge of Karate evaporated.

Same thing with me and guitar. I learned to play guitar. I got really good at it. I even know how to read notes.

Guess what? I now use guitar to write the violin, viola, cello, flute, clarinet, and horn parts for the orchestral musicians.

Sure, I failed in Metal. But I got really good at composing because of all the past practice I had.

The same thing with painting. Sometimes, my painting doesn’t turn out that good and I end up giving it away rather than putting it up for sale. But if I like the concept, I’ll paint the same painting twice after I figure out where the first one went wrong.

You should be competing against your past self. Constantly. Constant improvement.

That’s yet another reason I enjoyed my four years of weightlifting. The first two were lame, but I finally hired a coach and started doing things the right way. With the coach, I made insane progress.

Which of course led to co-worker jealousy. I lost my dad bod and started looking good. And got compliments from female co-workers. Which pissed off a jealous beta male.

So tell me – don’t you think rather than getting jealous, he should have hired a weightlifting coach and did the same thing I did?

Now apply this article to your own art and you’ll see some pretty insane improvement, no matter what your art medium is.

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