Pablo Picasso: Unhealthy competition deceives creative people

Pablo Picasso was brilliant.

His genius was not the result of competing with another artist. He was entirely unique, in his own league.

It upsets me to see people deceived.

I believe the greatest deception in our society today relates to competition. People compete with each other too much, which stifles creative growth .

Artists compete with other artists. Yet they are entirely different personalities with strengths in different areas.

pablo picasso girl before a mirror Pablo Picasso: Unhealthy competition deceives creative people

“Girl Before a Mirror” (1932) by Pablo Picasso. The Museum of Modern Art , New York, Oil on canvas

I have never considered myself in competition with another artist. Actually, I have never ever felt that life was a competition. I knew there was no other person one earth like me therefore, I had no need to compete with them.

Dan Johnson is an artist from England. He founded the successful art website . We’re both professional artists and online bloggers. Dan and I recently met online and there’s absolutely no sign of competition. It’s a nice genuine relationship. We’re generous with each other in art and business . Not trying to hide information, destroy or undermine one another in a competition.

Rather we share, support, encourage and compliment each other. As you will see in the skype video interview below Dan discusses his art background, Google+ , Facebook , Twitter, Pinterest and the importance of maintaining a balanced business.

Download Video with |

But often businessmen compete with other businessmen. Friends compete over the latest technology gadgets. Mums compete over their babies. Fathers compete over a house or car. Some professionals even compete over how hard they work! Silly stuff.

Especially in well developed western societies, people unfortunately learn that life is one big race for possessions. This is a massive deception, which stifles people’s freedom and creativity .

Point 1: Many people think they need to compete to receive their ‘piece of the pie’ in the world.

However, I do understand that competition can be healthy in some areas of life including sport. But too much focus on competing, gives people a distorted message about life.

Excessive competition leads to

a) exhaustion

b) copycat mentality

c) low self esteem

d) depletes creativity

e) starves originality

f) stifles freedom

g) creates the seagull mentality

h) creates boredom

i) at worst, leads to violence

But what happens mostly when people are busy looking at other people competing with each other, like seagulls competing over a dirty chip on the pavement, they miss out on discovering the amazing creative ability within themselves.

An aspect inside everybody that is so unique that no other person on the planet can compete with. Its impossible to compete on this level. When individuals find their unique creative ability, they can leave the dirty chip for the seagulls and begin feeding upon the most expensive restaurants in the world.

Point 3: If people are constantly in ‘competition mode’ they miss out on the creative value within themselves.

I tell my tertiary students, that good art teachers are employed to bring out the individual creative specialness in a student. That creative talent that is unique only to you. I try to avoid my students competing with others in class, it’s a waste of time, and will ensure they make zero progress. Instead focus internally, where the interesting special stuff resides.

Like the pie will one day run out. The student might be tempted to think, “I had better compete because otherwise, there will be none left for me”. This is a deception. The pie is infinitely plentiful. God’s resources are abundant and he has certainly planned enough cake for you.

Point 4: When the atmosphere of competition is eliminated, people are free to become inspired by following their special creativity within like Pablo Picasso.

One of the first things I tell my new creative students, during orientation day speech is this. “You are all incredibly unique. Out of the billions of people on planet earth, there is no one the same as you.” My students are not competing with anyone else because its impossible to compare an apple with an orange. Why waste time and energy on a useless exercise? Find what you love and be inspired.

Point 5: In creativity, or any field of endeavour people are infinitely original .

But some fail to grasp this reality and they begin losing self- confidence or self esteem. People often begin to compare themselves to others and compete on many different levels. Thinking they are beating their opponent by owning a better car or multi- story house. Competition is a big deception. After many years teaching tertiary level students in diploma, bachelor and masters level, I have come to this conclusion…

Point 6: Competition mostly creates mediocrity and mainstream unoriginal results.

Pablo Picasso, DaVinci , Einstein, or Plato wouldn’t have achieved such enormous success in their lives if they were primarily concerned with their next door neighbour competing for trivial matters. No, they were unique. They were concerned with more important questions about creativity.

These brilliant creative men were seeking answers to questions that lay deep within themselves. Deep within the universe. Questions that needed answers, that couldn’t be found by looking over their shoulder, envious of other people, feeling like they needed to compete to ‘keep up with the Jones’.

Envy, jealousy and competition is low level of thinking but unfortunately saturates our society. This type of thinking creates an even lower level of living. Similar to the pavement seagull, fighting over a dirty chip, making heaps of noise with a whole lot of effort.  For very little reward.

So lets avoid “keeping up with the Jones’” but rather be unique giving encouragement, support and strengthening people by igniting their creative spark within. This is guaranteed to make others feel invincible and very special just like Pablo Picasso.

Please leave your ideas in the comments box below, I would love to hear your thoughts.
If you’re interested in purchasing an original painting , or maybe you would like to commission Simon, please click here .

© Copyright Simon Brushfield – Pablo Picasso: Unhealthy competition deceives creative people

About Simon Brushfield

Simon Brushfield is an artist whose work has been described as ‘poetic, enigmatic and dreamlike’ (Michael Berry, "Selected Contemporary Artists of Australia" book). His paintings have been exhibited and sold across Australia and internationally. If you enjoyed this post, sign up to Simons VIP list and have posts sent directly to your inbox.


  1. What a great blog and healthy way of thinking. Ive found in my own life whether with my art or living in general I choose not to be competitive but choose to enjoy others, their talents and art. In the end that freedom allows me to learn more as an artist and enjoy daily living.
    Thanks again for the great post.

  2. Deby Joevita says:

    Very great post! I really like your way of thinking, and your artworks are awesome!

  3. I love this! Competition is so destructive. We’ve been taught that it’s a natural impulse — that only the fittest will survive — but that isn’t the full picture of nature, just the full picture of a damaging world view that’s been propagated for too long!

    I’m curious about how you reconcile your use of copyright with your more collaborative world view. If collaboration and sharing are the name of the game, why try to stop people from using your work in a myriad of ways?

  4. What a great post! I just read it straight through.

    When I lived in Mexico, I was so very inspired by the culture and art. I had drawn pictures before and would keep attempting to draw something that would “please” someone/somebody/anybody else. I was around 20 at the time.

    The brother of my ex husband, was a designer (clothes) went to spain, was an amazing artist imho. I was inspired by a drawing he did of beings growing out of the earth and the bodies were rooting into the ground, there was more to it, but it was cool, so cool I tried to draw it, but never showed him (it totally sucked). I then drew something else (I can’t even remember what it was) and as soon as he returned to the house one day, I showed him and asked him “is it good?”, he said “what does it matter what I think?”, in his best english. He would never give me an opinion. At the time I was hurt, but later in life began to understand. His name was Bernardo Castellanos Vasquez (RIP).

    Many, many, many, did i say many? years passed. I stopped drawing then would write, journal, purge words on the keyboard, paper, cocktail napkin, carved in bathroom walls, …etc, then i would stop writing, then draw again.

    The thing is I was never happy with anything I did. I’m much, much, much, did I say much? older now and more comfy in this capsule i am temporarily occupying to navigate this world i am in.

    With that said. I think I have been selling my self short from the pure enjoyment of “just doing it”, for the love of it and …… no words after that:)

    Excellent post that Inspires confidence and creativity. Kudos!

    • Hi Lara, thanks so much for your thoughts and experiences outlined above. You are not alone. There are many people who seek to “please” someone/somebody/anybody else. We all need approval on some level. Especially, sensitive creative minded people. I have seen some of your art online and it’s amazing . I want to really encourage you to ‘Just do it’ for the pure enjoyment and love of creativity. Who knows what will happen after that? You are honestly very talented. I predict good things will start to happen. Please keep me updated of any future work you create. I am excited to have met you and hope to see more of your artwork in the future. The more you do, the more people will love it. Thanks for reading the post.

  5. Many Thanks for this post. I do appreciate this way of thinking. All people are creative and original. I remember this rasta people quote : It’s between me and me…

  6. What an excellent article. Unfortunately unhealthy competition starts from very early on. We push our children and compare them to others. I wish all mothers …parents, would read this.
    It’s great to be able to read your blog – well written articles with solid insight.

  7. Great Article !!!! *Cynthia

  8. I totally agree with you. Terrific article, thank you Regards Susan

  9. You know i believe everything happens for a reason, last week I read a very discouraging article…it was so sad for me to read because someone out there who is creatively shy would read something like that and think ‘why bother’ then after both of our names appeared in the ’21 artists to watch in 2013′ I checked out this entry and its exactly how I feel, it literally cheered me up to realize that I am not alone in thinking this way and will be sending this entry to the people I am coaching congratulations on the recent success and heres hoping 2013 will stay a wonderful year
    Patrick Gorman Pettis recently posted… 38th Entry – of ice and snow My Profile

  10. I love your blog!! Your painting are amazing… Your words in your poetry are very true to heart.. *Cynthia
    cynthia jackson recently posted… My Profile

  11. BringMeMyFix says:

    This is a viewpoint I tend to share. Competition is about beating people, and that alone should raise eyebrows when you consider the etymology of the word. ‘Beating’ is about inflicting blows upon people if you look at the Old English, so with competition we’re already in danger of converting creativity into destruction.

    Well, that’s one interpretation. I’m not saying it beats anyone else’s.

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