In the beginning of any artist’s life, they deal with criticism. Granted, not all criticism comes in the form of someone trying to belittle your work, but often it comes from well meaning people who want you to succeed, but are afraid about your chances (I’m looking at you, every artist’s mother ever.)
It can come in the form of asking whether or not your art is a viable means of sustenance for your life, whether or not you’ll make any money on it, or whether or not you will be defeated by criticism. And as much as they mean well, trust me when I say that I know how damaging that can be to a young artist.
However, for your Funky Friday message to artists, I’d like you to remember one salient point: Your art is sovereign.
What I’m saying is that you have a choice in what you believe about your art. When someone comes in with an opinion about your art being bad or your art being good, there is a moment where you get to decide whether or not that’s true. One thing that can destroy artists is when they think they have a sacred obligation to believe every opinion that comes to them. In that way lies madness.
- You are in control of your art.
- You are not your art.
Dangerous things can happen when you do not recognize these two things. If you believe everything everyone tells you about your art, you will attempt to make art that pleases everyone, pleasing no one, and you will probably miss out on a chance to create art that is great simply because 1 person who is not even representative of your total outreach potential thought it was bad. Furthermore, if you do not recognize that you and your art are separate entities, your self-esteem will fluctuate chaotically based on how people tell you they feel about what you make.
So remember these two lessons when making things, that you are master and commander of the stuff that comes out onto the page, but you are not a slave to it. In this way, you can make beautiful things and still not be condemned to die of rampant alcoholism when you’re 30.
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