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Cathleen Lengyel > Scribbles > Artist Life > Crickets, Critiques, Motivation

Crickets, Critiques, Motivation

Today we’re going to explore three things that effect you as an artist.
  • Adoration
  • Silence
  • Critiques
As artists we need to be a bit “thick skinned.”  The problem with that is most artists are very sensitive people, especially when it comes to our artwork.  When I say “thick skinned,” it’s not just in regards to negative comments coming our way, but also with words of encouragement and adoration.

Adoration

When people like our work and tell us our pride swells.  We feel like all the long hours put into our creation are worth it!  People appreciate our work and they validate our work and affirm our status as an artist.  Adoration is a good thing but how can it effect me in a negative way? Yes, adoration can be a very good thing.  It can be affirming and make you feel a sense of making it all worth it.  However, adoration can also lead to issues with ego and also cause your work to become stagnant.  How? Ego:  If you spend all your time only listening to the good things people say about your work you may have trouble staying grounded.  While I’m sure your work is good, it could always be better.  Fact:  No matter where you are in your artistic journey you should be striving to improve your skills.  There will always be someone better than you and someone not quite where you are and you need to remember that.  As artists we practice our art.  We create over and over and hopefully learn new techniques and continue to improve.  We don’t want our art to become stale.  We also don’t want to use the good comments as excuses not to improve.  “Well my work is good enough.”  Uhm, no.  Your work is good, but imagine how amazing it might be 6 months from now or even year from now, if you continue to learn and improve!    You need to stay humble and you need to continue to improve yourself and your work.

Silence

You’ve been working for hours, maybe days on your latest piece.  You’ve finally finished!  You take pictures and post them on all of your social media.  You can’t wait to share this amazing work with all your friends, family and followers.  You sit back and wait.  Still waiting.  OK, maybe people are driving home or eating dinner, you’re patient.   You know as soon as they see your wonderful work online they’ll be hitting the like buttons and making wonderful comments.  Still waiting.  Ok, it’s been TWO HOURS…… nothing but crickets.  No likes, no comments, no anything. First you might be surprised.  Then probably shocked and a tad angry.  I mean you spent all that time working on this amazing piece of art and NO ONE is saying anything?  Awe c’mon!!!! Yep, it happens.  Now that it’s happened what do you do?  Some artists may begin to question if they are even worthy of being called an artist.  Questions might flood their mind like, “why am I doing this? Why am I putting myself through this?”  A little melodramatic, but I have seen it happen.  I’ve seen good artists want to give up on art altogether simply because they had no response to their work.

Critiques

Critiques can come in two forms, wanted and unwanted. WANTED: If you ask for critiques of your work, be sure that’s what you really want.  Getting critiques from other artists (especially those working in your medium) can be a wonderful resource!  Artists who have been working in your medium for many years know tips, tricks, techniques that could improve your work.  They have more experience, they’ve been there, and they want to help.  A helpful critique is one of the best things you can get!  Asking for a critique can be a bit nerve wracking too.  You can’t anticipate what others will see as “wrong” in your work and you might be surprised by what gets pointed out for improvement.  Don’t ever be angry when you ask for a critique and get one!  You need to seriously put your feeling towards your work on hold and look at it subjectively and be critical of your own work if you want to improve.  Critiques from other artists may occasionally sting, but can be just what you need on the road to improvement! UNWANTED:  These are the “critiques” that you never anticipate.  More often than not they are presented in a rude manner.  An unwanted critique can make you catch your breath and knock you off your feet.  You’ve posted a finished piece that took hours, days to create.  It turned out better than you imagined.  You’re incredibly happy with it and post it on social media.  Among the likes and comments there it is, a mean spirited critique of your work.  It’s like getting punched in the gut.  That one comment can literally take all the good feelings you had and replace them with doubt, frustration and a feeling that you’re not worthy to be called an artist.  You need to stop right there.  STOP.  Hear me?  You can not let one rude comment ruin not only how you feel about your finished work, your entire day or your entire existence as an artist. Unwanted critiques are like a slap in the face.  While no artist is perfect and we’re all striving to become better at our craft, we can’t allow rude, negative people control how we feel or how we feel about our work.  A constructive/wanted critique will build you up.  They will point out your strengths as well as offer suggestions for improvement.  Unwanted critiques tend to be hyper-critical and downright rude.  They usually aren’t really about your artwork, but stem from jealousy or insecurity on the part of the person giving it.   Sometimes you will come across people who only feel good when they are tearing down others.  You can not let them get under your skin.  You can not use their comments as an excuse to stop creating.  You can also remind yourself at this point that art is subjective.  What one person sees as a beautiful work of art, another person will see as trash.  You simply need to find the people who appreciate your art. In the end what matters most is our motivation.  Why do we make art?  Is it to please others?  Is it to gain praise from other people?  Or do we create art because we need to?  Because something deep down inside us needs to be expressed by creating? When those hard times come, and they will, remember your motivation.  Remember why you create art.  Evaluate it.  If you’re only in it for the adoration and possibly money, then my friend you’re in it for the wrong reasons. Just something to think about. Until next time, Keep Creating!  

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