Have you ever wondered why many great artists seem to be modest about their work, and less-competent artists tend to have over-inflated egos?
You've probably noticed that some great artists don't recognize their high skill level. They are so focused on improving their work that all they see are the mistakes in their work. Never satisfied, they are constantly trying to overcome their ever-rising standard of quality. Some may even feel a sense of inferiority about their work. This can be characterized as illusory inferiority.
On the other hand, some unskilled artists suffer from illusory superiority, otherwise known as the Dunning-Kruger effect. These artists feel that their skill level is much higher than in reality, and they feel that they have no need to improve their work, They fail to recognize high skills in other artists and reject any critiques of their own work.
The source of the Dunning-Kruger effect is debated, but one theory contends that excessive praise feeds an artist's beliefs and artificially elevates their self-appraisal. An artist might witness this on social media, where the response to their work is high praise and declarations that they are superior. They begin to believe the praise that they read, and it manifests into illusory superiority.
Illusory inferiority or inferiority complex?
There is another school of thought that asserts the Dunning-Kruger effect stems from trying to compensate for an inferiority complex. The idea is that the artist refuses to acknowledge greatness in others due to their own feelings for inadequacy, perhaps at an unconscious level.
In their view, illusory inferiority suffered by many skilled artist is compensated differently from that of unskilled artists. The skilled artist focuses internally on improving themselves, while the unskilled artist focuses externally by attempting to invalidate others.
Most artists have a bit of insecurity about their work. We don't know if others will approve of our work when we put our work out there. We hope what we create is good enough, but fear that we don't see the mistakes that the rest of the world sees.
The best thing to do with that insecurity is to focus on improving our own work rather than attempting to elevate ourselves by bringing others down. Because no matter how much skill one acquires in their lifetime, there is always more to learn.