For some reason, I am no stranger to criticism. Certainly anyone who puts themselves out there in the public eye had better learn the lesson very quickly that everyone has an opinion. Your choice is to accept whether their opinion has validity. That’s it, plain and simple.
From the time we enter our first art class in college we’re told to listen and learn. It isn’t always the easiest thing to digest when your professor is telling you why the girl that makes Cheerios in her underwear for a performance piece is better than the life-sized masterpiece of classical inspiration you’ve slaved over for three months – but you have to take it all with a grain of salt. It has been eluded that this profession seems to have it share of crazy people. I personally have found some truth to this. However, if you limit it just to what is said vs. how you take it, you’ll learn how to deal with it. The best thing about it is that the more you hear, and the more experience you get, the easier it all becomes.
Today I received this email, by accident, of course, from the editor of a particular publication I was promoting my artwork in. His wife, as it turned out had corresponded with me and was very professional and courteous. I’m sad for her that she had to be berated like a silly girl by her husband. But the best part is, that it didn’t even reach her, initially that is. Well, unless this man felt the need to call me sweetheart… I made sure I copied his wife so she had it for her records too. I mean, it seems only fair that she knows what an idiot she married – right?
Sweetheart, I thought you agreed never to respond to these e-mails.
This guy’s a nutter, and now he has a reason to expect me to treat him seriously.
Just keep forwarding the e-mails to me.
Wow, what a lovely thing to have sent to my inbox this afternoon – I’m a nutter! Now of course I responded, quickly and very directly, to this ridiculous accusation from a person that I’ve never met or has even corresponded with me. Worst of all, now he had to do his job! I think one could argue his intelligence when he replied to her but the email went to me instead. I love being berated by the Academe. They have tons of education but little poise to interact with real people in this business.
The problem is that I could have accepted the slander towards me. Many artists would because we’ve all been told to listen and suck it up. I don’t care who the person is, what their title is or who they know, if their opinion of me or my art is wrong I don’t have to give it my attention. The problem with accepting all opinions from others is that it should be restricted to discussions on artistic technique and context, not how you conduct your business. In my opinion, the chick eating the cereal out of her panties was a nutter – me, I’m just an ambitious painter.
This is the art business, not the studio. You don’t have to accept what others think of you. If you don’t realize that early in your career you are done for. I’ve been picked apart in my hometown newspaper on the front page, I’ve had people attack me for doing the Fire Sale and the Portrait Marathon and not one of the accusations were for doing anything that was provoking in nature. It doesn’t get easier as you get more and more successful – in this profession or any other. Everyone always has an opinion and I break down criticism from anyone down into two categories:
1. You don’t know me well enough to realize I am as good as I am at what I do
2. Jealousy because you can’t do what I can do
Keep that advice with you all of your career and it will easily derail any feelings you react with. Never take what anyone says at face value and allow it to take you down. The only advice you listen to is that of those that love you AND share your vision. Do not let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. I’ve spent a lifetime using things like this as fuel and that is exactly what I am suggesting to you.