criticism is a good thing

Being as I recently crossed the threshold from internally labeling myself as a hobby artist to a professional artist , I threw my website/portfolio out to random cities on craigslist asking for a bit of criticism. Now I know that seems like a shallow attempt at garnering praise, but honestly I was looking for the opposite. Positive comments about my work or style are wonderful to hear, but they are rarely detailed or thought provoking. The average person that contacts me through flickr (or wherever) is doing so to tell me they like something about what they are seeing from me, which is sincerely appreciated and quite lovely. But, how do I grow from that?

All I can say now is be careful what you wish for, because two artists took the time to write me. What struck me the most is that they both expressed feelings of distraction and confusion toward my writing. I had no idea I was discrediting myself through a lack of maturity. Their thoughts sent me down many paths, inspiring me to rethink my goals and redefine my purpose. I now have a clearer picture of what I want my website and blog to do for me. Thank you.

The digestion process of phrases like unprofessional personality and distracting presence was rough, but I could not find a sweeping point to disagree on in either comment. Establishing a web presence as a creative professional is difficult for me for many reasons. I am a spark. I often run into projects, such as starting a blog, head first like a freight train the second I get one good idea, instead of being a little more practical and developing a long term plan. Obviously, I am going through some growing pains as an artist, but I do have a serious lack of control when it comes to keeping that private. That is now a new goal for me.

Another goal is to answer this question: How entrepreneurial should I allow myself to be? On one hand I am trying to make a name for myself and sell some of my art, but on the other I am weary of taking what I just said too seriously, because I fear the motive of money. When I pick up a paint brush or a pen I do not want the little moneymaker voice in the back of my head ruling my creative decisions. I do not want to become a factory. I also have this personality tick about me that sees the potential earning and marketability of just about everything, which can lead me to appear gimmicky. How do you navigate that fine line?

You'll notice that this blog looks a bit different now. The old template was beautiful, but it wasn't me. The blog was originally going to be sparse, consisting of occasional art related updates and announcements. My only requirement being that it visually flowed well from my portfolio website. Now I realize that if I am being completely honest, I would much rather have a blog space that is less about professionally accompanying my website and more about the world in which I create. A place where I sometimes, in an utterly personal and livejournal-ish tone, can update you about my life. If some people that end up here from my website find this off putting, I can live with that. Having a blog is part of my working process now as it offers me motivation and a growing sense of community.

Growing feels really good.

1 comment:

  1. This is such a great post! Criticism IS hard...and we do need to be careful who we're allowing to speak into our lives...but how great that you are open to learning and growing from the valuable criticism you've asked for and received.

    It is hard to balance the entrepreneurial thoughts with the creating-just-for-me thoughts...ultimately, I believe we should create for ourselves. If you don't love what you're doing and if it isn't benefiting you---growing you in a positive way---then you will begin to despise it and all the money in the world won't be worth the time! :)

    Hope you have a great weekend---it's been great visiting your blog tonight!

    Sarah (lostinavalon) from SwapBot
    visiting you for the Blog Comment Lovers Swap