A big hurdle for most artists is putting their work out there for the public to see. Most of us have that “fraud” mentality, that we aren’t really an artist yet, and why would anyone like our work let alone buy it?

And as an artist you are going to get negative feedback, it just come with the territory. But so do a lot of positive comments. The problem is that our brain registers the negative comments and puts a big red flag on them. The positive comments just get quietly filed away, often we don’t even believe them. What is it about our culture that allows us to treat ourselves this way?

But you can learn from the comments and feedback. Generally, the ones that really bug me have something in them I can learn from.

For instance, a few years back, it seemed like every art show I did, I would have someone come to my booth and say “you should make crosses, if you had crosses I would buy from you”. And I would reply “I can do a custom cross for you”. This went on for a while, and I would come home and second guess myself on my decision to not create crosses as a regular body of work. But it still didn’t feel right for me to create them.

Then one day I had one of those flashes of insight when I was talking to a customer and I responded differently. “I don’t make crosses, unless I am creating them for a specific person. I think it is one of those pieces of jewelry that is very personal and the person should be involved in the creation of the piece, so I only do them as custom orders.” I felt better about my answer, the customer liked my answer and I haven’t had people commenting on my lack of crosses in my collections.  

Or my most recent one was from a class. Forget the hundreds of great comments I have gotten. Hmmm… this one really bugged me as it was so far from what I hold important, so I decided to take a step back and figure out if there was something I could I learn. I realized I might not be repeating certain things over and over, and in different ways, enough times in my class so that every student can really hear and understand.

What are the comments that really stick out for you? Did you learn something from them? Or were they one of those comments that are just so out there you just have to shake your head and laugh. Yeah, I have had a lot of those too.

The important thing as an artist is to remember all the good comments, don’t just brush them off. And when you do get a negative comment that really sticks, either you can’t stop thinking about it or it keeps coming up, what can you learn from it?

None of us will ever make everyone happy, nor will everyone like our art. That’s okay. It would be a really boring world if we all thought the same and liked the same things. So here is to diversity and the growth it can foster.

 Just keep creating!