Depending whose viewpoint you are taking. Just think about this for a moment. Who's doing the criticizing? Likely someone who works in a conventional job.
If you work as an insurance broker, or a doctor, or windshield installer for the automotive industry, then you work regular hours, for an expected wage, with structures for safe practices and regulations around what you can and can't do. You also likely have industry standards for education. If you fulfill x,y,z, training and earn your certificate then you can perform that job.
The structures and expectation when you have a regular job are easily understood and most people can work within them just fine.
Artists on the other hand, often work irregular hours, and perform many things that are not directly measurable, and are easily judged by those who work differently. Plus there is no x,y,z program of training that guarantees anything for an artist. You can go to university or some other post secondary training and still have the same challenges of marketing and creating a body of work that is marketable as those who did not go the university route.
Then there are the things that artists do that don't correlate to an hourly wage structure. What about the hours and hours an artist spends conceptualizing new ideas, trying things out, practicing with new materials, pricing the materials they would like to use - only to realize the cost is too high, then spend a whole lot of extra time trying to find a new solution? How does all this get factored in?
Conventional jobs = doing a job + get paid for that job.
Artists = try a bunch of things, spend a whole lot of non-billable hours to produce something, and hope it sells. You get paid for the one item that someone gave you money for, not the hours and hours it took to produce that one item.
In reality, business of any sort is very simple. You make a product that someone wants to buy and then you assist that person in buying it.
For artists, being that there is no inherent business structure, they have to decide, on every level how they are going to structure their business. I think this is where it gets a bit overwhelming.
When are they the most effective at their work? Is it midnight to 4 am?
Where are the people that want to purchase what they have produced?
Which shows/exhibits do they want to be a part of?
What are the commissions/costs to be a part of those shows?
How are you going to display your art so it can be seen in the best possible light? Can you schlepp all that to the venue yourself or do you need someone to help?
How do you price your work?
Do you sell it framed or unframed?
How do you talk about your art so the possible collector is intrigued enough to enquire about purchasing it?
Then comes all the shipping and packaging questions. Oh and the website. Which platform, how do I take payment, how do I keep an inventory of finished work? Where did the blue abstract piece go, anyway?
It's a lot. From an outside observer artists may be judged because what they do does not fit into a neat, regular system.
The freedom to decide how to be an artist, is part of the appeal and attraction. The freedom to design, tweak, sell and promote their work however feels right, to whomever it feels right, is really a blessing.
If you are an artist, don't worry about the criticism, you get to do you. Make the decisions you need to make, get some help if you need it. Keep records of your work. Pay your taxes.
Another thing about being an artist that's super cool. Anyone with the right training can sell insurance or install a windshield, or style that new haircut.
Artists create something from nothing, Something wonderful and new that can only be created by them. There is no recipe. The product comes from their unique inspiration and their skill with their medium. The possibilities are endless and never the same twice.
Yeah to all the artists out there cutting their own path through the amazing opportunities, doing it their own way.
We want to feel that we are doing something meaningful. That we are appreciated. That we matter. That we are connected to people that matter to us.
Maybe one day you wake up and wondered what is the point? Why does any of this really matter? I've certainly asked these questions over the years. Finding my own way to these answers had been about listening, journalling, meditating, and following my own inspiration. I noticed over time that I had answered my own question.
I think this is the only meaningful way to come to our answers - to do it ourselves. Can YOU value what you do?
For a lot of years I didn't feel that valuable. Yes, I had roles that I fulfilled, mother, sister, daughter, friend, wife, lover, creative. As my parents and many of siblings have died, the family ties, rituals and routines have fallen away. Without the obligatory Thanksgiving/Christmas get togethers, what is the nature of connection? I can't say those get togethers were fulfilling. They were often strained and didn't result in any meaningful connections.
You know how it is... the turkey needs to get cooked, the salads prepared, the table set, the beverages chilled. Then the guests arrive and it's about making sure everyone has what they need. Then it's the cleaning up and everyone goes home. I drove 12 hours on winter roads for this ?
I was wanting something more. A chance to connect. A moment where someone turned to me and asked "how are you doing? What's going on in your life?" and really listened to what I had to say. This is partly a co-dependent questions. "If only they would pay attention to me." Neediness, for sure. I understand now that this energy of needing something from someone else is also pretty heavy. The expectation on others that they would fulfill something that I needed. They probably had no idea what I needed but could sense a brooding or moodiness that was not appealing.
In some ways the falling away of the obligations has been wonderfully liberating. A peeling back to the essential of what has me feel valuable in my own life.
Through my art, the best learning arena I've found, I have grown. I think we search for the sublime. Art is beautiful and healing, but also it is a manifestation of love, or divinity, or whatever we want to call it. (Excerpt from Bittersweet by Susan Cain.
In reality I don't really 'need' others to come to me and spend that quality conversation. It's nice when it happens, but the neediness has fallen away. Thank goodness. I feel that connections can now come in a more transparent, honest, mutual way, than the way I was seeking them.
Through my art, I'm learning to listen, be still and create from within. I know that sounds kind of whoo whoo. I'm sure you have heard of the concept of the flow state, where you lose track of time and feel immersed in the process of what you are doing. That's what I'm referring to when I say create from within.
Before that flow state can happen the environment and tools need to be arranged in such a way that you can be in the moment of creating.
I read a term this morning... the mediocrity of excellence. Often people who excel are not the most brilliant, the fastest, smartest, funniest, rather they are the ones who show up day in day out doing the small things. Practicing, keeping to the routine of things.
Artists historically have gotten a bad rap for how they live their life. Judgement abounds. Judgement about our business skills, the quality of the work we produce, the subject matter that we represent. I learned a valuable lesson this past year, I was still seeking approval from strangers. There were holes in the way I was holding the efficacy of my work, so the criticism was able to find its way in. Great lesson to learn.
Collecting evidence has become a habit of mine.
I collect things like:
When I can look at my numbers and see that 1) I am making money, 2) I'm showing up and putting in the time 3) I'm painting more = more likely to reach my goals, then I can feel a sense of personal satisfaction and pleasure. I can allow myself to feel good.
With these sets of goals + I can keep to the schedule + I'm making great progress = I feel good about what I'm doing.
This doesn't even take into affect how my art is improving from my time and attention. It's quite amazing.
As I see these images here, tears come to my eyes. To see how far I've come. To feel the energy of my paintings now, moved me to tears, literally.
This feels f*cking amazing. I can honestly say I feel good. I feel valuable. I feel like what I'm contributing is important.
I wish this for you too. I wish for the awareness and time for you to find your way to this self satisfying place, where deep connections can happen, naturally. Where you feel that are so valuable. Bless you on this journey. Please keep going. Your art matters.
I’m not good with criticism. It’s often cruel and unnecessary. I'm talking about the unsolicited opinions that come from, who knows, family/friends, or random strangers. It doesn't really matter. What does matter is the effect.
For me, I get triggered. I’m human. I react. I feel hurt. I feel frustrated. I feel pissed off. All of it takes me away from my beautiful heart centred creativity.
It is very important that whatever the motivation for the unsolicited critique of your work, let it bounce off you. There is no need to take it personally, or justify yourself, or somehow appease the person.
What you do, or how you do it, may be rejected by some viewers. That is not the point. Your work is important. I keep trying to stress this in my writing. Why? Your unique view on your life and the world you live opens a window for the rest of us to consider and experience what you are. What you create could not exist without you. Your unique inspirations and just that unique. Even if you see a gazillion people painting landscapes, or flowers, or portraits, the way you do it is unique simply because you see things differently. You also use your materials differently than other people. Celebrate that uniqueness. Comparison is the killer of your creativity and completely unnecessary. It's a waste of time.... period.
In my case, I've had thousands of people - and I'm not exaggerating, react to one of my paintings. All positive, "Oh wow!", "Lovely work", "I really enjoy what you are doing, you are so talented," etc. Then there is the one that says some pretty unrealistic things. And you know the truth neither comment really matters that much. I mean, yes, the good comments are great to hear, but if that is why you are making art, then you are really susceptible to that feedback. What if the comments dry up? Do you stop making your art? Don't let yourself become dependent on other people telling you what you are doing is worthwhile.
Your finished piece of artwork is a testiment to the journey you have been on to create it. It's personal. You tackled the difficult stuff, of self doubt, uncertainty, lack of motivation, whatever, and created the piece anyway. Your art and your tenacity if really important. If you are compelled to create, then keep creating and don't let anyone dissuade you from it.
I appreciate every single day that I get the privilege of creating what I’m inspired to create. The freedom to do it my way. The responsibility to share my joy and exuberance. When many people are falling apart in despair and worry from the challenges we are facing, I get to infuse the world with a bit of peace, a bit of beauty, and a whole lot of love.
That’s what’s important.
Here is one of my recent pieces titled "Yowza" Yowza is right. I hope you enjoy it.