It is a sad but universal truth all creative products are ultimately judged by someone other than their creator. You enter a show it’s the juror, you sell the canvas it’s the buyer, you use a print it’s the buyer, you place it in a gallery it’s the owner, you enter it in a trade show or street fair and it’s the organizer and none of them are you.
Think about this, you can work as hard as you like, devote as much time as you want, pour all of your resources into the project, alienate your friends and family ignoring them while you finish it and no matter how much you like it, someone else will decide if it is okay.
I know life stinks.
So what to do?
First and foremost do something you like. If you try to create something someone else will like you’ll just grow to resent the time you spend working on it. If you create something you like then if in the end no one but you likes it, you’ll be pleased with yourself.
Chasing trends, fitting into imaginary living rooms, matching color schemes just won’t work. There are more of them than there are of you and if you try to guess what THEY’LL like you’ll do no better than get one out of a hundred. And that’s if you are very conventional. And you are not conventional, you are an artist and by definition you are bohemian and not conventional.
Do something you are proud of. This is going to be your calling card so you’d better be proud to have it seen. No, showing it to the dust bunnies in your closet does not count as showing it. If you’ve created something you are proud of then no matter what anyone says you will still be proud of it. That’s the way to start building self-esteem, just like Mrs. Tulip your third grade teacher told you would be so important when you reached adulthood and had to go out and face the world with nothing but your smile and a degree from Lower Tulane State Technical College.
See this self-esteem thing really does have real-world legs. If you know who and what you are you won’t be put down by what some alleged expert has to say.
This will also come in handy when you come up with that Eureka moment. You suddenly get the notion that paintings of 1949 Mercurys are going to be the very best way to express all of the artistic zeal you’ve stored up in the long and fruitful development years and now you want to let it all out but there are those who think that a 1949 Mercury is just a car and not a very pretty car at that and has absolutely no artistic merit and they will given half a chance organize a torch carrying, pitchfork toting mob to come and get you and burn you like those witches in Salem or the Frankenstein monster which of course is all wrong, cause Frankenstein was the man and the creature was just the Creature and not a monster at all just slow and under-educated like an elected official.
And if you’ve worked on your self-esteem you’ll be able to look that mob in the face and snap your fingers and say, “That for you!” as they carry you away to that mill on the cliff where they plan on locking you in and burning down the building around you so that all trace of you and your heretical ways are erased from the face of the earth. Now you don’t want to face that with low self-esteem do you?
No I didn’t think so. So develop work you are proud of, show it boldly to the world and laugh when they do or don’t accept it. It is your work after all and they might just not really understand it.
Learn to embrace rejection. This is not, Thank God, High School and you are not the pocket protector toting geek asking the head cheerleader for a date to the prom, you’re an artist and that cheerleader should have the guts to go with you even though she or he has been going steady with the captain of the football team for the last year and a half and after all variety is the spice of life and a change just might do some good, so step up, take your chances and see if in the end there is a yes waiting to be had.