Sofia’s Sofa: The unsolicited opinions of the art student

Sofia Hara, A&E Editor

I have been involved in performing arts for as long as I can remember and I can see myself continuing to be involved for the foreseeable future. I started ballet lessons when I was three, musical theatre when I was seven and took an interest in film when I was in seventh grade. Even though I do not plan on going to school for the arts I do plan on having my career associated with the arts in some way. Despite my passion for the arts, there will always be one element that is present in nearly every art field that irks me beyond belief: The Art Student with the Superiority Complex.

The Art Student with the Superiority Complex usually has three main elements: unreasonably high standards, favoritism from a mentor and a disdain for their peers. I have encountered the Art Student in numerous fields whether it be visual arts, dance, film or theatre. Wherever art exists, a subsequent Superiority Complex must also exist. 

This art student is not to be confused with the Prodigy (although I have seen cases in which they are one and the same). The main element that separates the Prodigy from the Superiority Complex is the ability to succeed regardless of what peers or mentors think. For example, sculptors can be recognized for their ability in an art gallery or exhibition even if their instructors do not favor them. On the other hand, Art Students with the Superiority Complex are fueled by the praise of their instructor as it provides them the confirmation that their abilities are valid and therefore the best. 

It is not inherently bad to be favored by a mentor however the false idea that one’s abilities are better than they are is harmful to both the artist and those that they influence. In my own experience I will see these art students prosper in class but suffer once they leave the classroom. It is not to say that the students lack any real skill but more so that they are given false hope. While this may not be the case for students who are not involved in the arts (for example, any student in an academic classroom), it is especially harmful for an artist to have false hope due to how risky a career in the arts can be. Unless artists bring something new to their field, it’s exceptionally rare to succeed. 

My condolences to all art students who lost hope. 

The best way to deal with those with Superiority Complex is usually to just ignore them. Their comments on your abilities mean virtually nothing; their expertise does not matter and should not affect you in any way. If their only intention is to bring harm in order to raise themselves up, then you should not worry about your own abilities.  

For example those of Superiority Complex are at their strongest when auditions start. With everyone insecure and full of self-doubt the Superiority Complex are able to feed their overconfidence and prey on others, pushing them down even further. Many artists, including myself, have been victims of these apex predators. I would be told that I should “aim for something easier” or to “let others take on this role”. Their patronizing comments would sting but the only solution is to move forward despite them. 

Needless to say the Art Student with the Superiority Complex can be a nuisance. However from my own experience those with Superiority Complex are harmless if you do not give them the validation they believe they deserve. As long as you focus on yourself, your own abilities will prosper regardless of others.