Wednesday, February 06, 2013

The Soul of an Artist

When you pursue some skill that you love you reach a point where you wish people to take notice no matter how shy you are.  When I first joined the RedBubble, a photography website out of Australia (far away where no one knows me), I thought it would be a good source for feedback from professional and amateur photographers to help me grow.  I was most naive.  I posted a comment about how there was so much praise and no suggestions for change and improvement which was met with deadly silence!  As the months passed I submitted a few very veiled critical suggestions to others and they were taken with a grain of salt.  But I also noticed some very angry discussions unbecoming photographers when I perused other sites and journal entries.  It became clear to me that some artists have very sensitive egos and do not appreciate critical input.  Fortunately I was never on the receiving end of this, but I would not have been dismayed, and just accepted that I had bruised someone's sense of self.  Thus, I realized this was just a site to post and wait for praise or silence.  There is one venue for input from others, but it is somewhat complicated for me to figure out how to post the photograph for review so I have only posted one or two items!

I have entered contests on this site which are primarily set up to stimulate membership and have over 100 features of new work or photographs that have been selected for top ten praise in challenges that are put forth by volunteers hosting the various groups.  Some of these groups leaders are professional photographers, so I am honored in this selection. 

I have submitted photos for free for publication and been rewarded.  I have not won any of the local contests to which I submit.  I have sold a few photos as greeting cards.

Some of my readers of this blog are artists.  They write, paint, take photographs and feel comfortable that they are a perfect fit into the artist mold.  They are not intimidated by anyone or do not show it.  I, on the other hand, have a tiny ego in this world of the artist and see myself as a really struggling persona.  (Please note, I am not a shrinking violet and do NOT have a tiny ego in other areas of my life.)  While I love the praise my readers send with love on my photos and my prose and poetry, I never really feel as if I deserve it.  I accept it as encouragement and a pat on the back from a loving parent, but not recognition of  small genius...which we all would really love.

Okay, what is my point in this long, self-involved post?  I have recently been selected as a feature artist in a small (very small) online journal.  I do not know what is expected.  It seems to be not an interview but more so a write up by me of who I am and a selection from my works.  The surprise for me is that I have only entered two works into this group that selected me...others I have entered dozens.   I was told not to worry about that!  So, please wish me luck and tell  me how you would get in the mind set of an artist for this!

24 comments:

Rain Trueax said...

Congratulations and my opinion is you cannot have a fragile ego and be an artist. It is hard not to take criticism hard as these (books, sculptures, paintings, photographs, etc.) are our children but we have to be aware of the reality of rejection and out and out dislike or we cannot put it out there. We can keep it at home as a hobby but once it's out in the world, it's open to words, or worse ignoring, that can be painful. It sounds like you may have a good opportunity to grow with a group. Good luck with it.

Friko said...

Congratulations on having been selected to do whatever it is you’re going to do.

It seems to me that anything we publish online will meet with a wall of praise - pretty meaningless - or nothing. Nobody ever says anything genuinely to the point. It’s totally boring and only helps to polish our egos.

We are all afraid of hurting feelings or being hurt ourselves.

My offline writers group is the same.

“Very nice” is usually the verdict. God, why do I even go?

bookbabie said...

I do wish you luck! Putting our art in whatever form "out there" is courageous:)

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

Be yourself -- barbara

~JarieLyn~ said...

I agree with Barbara, Just be yourself. Congrats.

Stephen Hayes said...

As an artist myself I can say that it does help to have a thick skin. Two pieces of advice: create as much work as you can. It hurts when someone criticizes the only thing you've done but when you have many pieces a criticism hurts less. And always remember that when God made artists He created critics from the scrap that was left over. Congratulations.

messymimi said...

Good luck! You can do it.

Lynn said...

Good luck, Tabor. ((( wear a beret )))

Linda Reeder said...

While I am not an artist, I do produce art. And I produce it to please myself. I'm a pretty harsh critic of my own work, so if it passes my inspection, then it doesn't matter what others think or say. However, I still enjoy hearing praise for what I do.
Good luck in your new endeavor. Please yourself!

SueAnn Lommler said...

Congrats!! That is super and your photos are superb! So don't worry
Hugs
SueAnn

Hattie said...

Congratulations! Keep us posted!
I agree that artists have fragile egos but can benefit from well-intended criticism. But I have had to retreat from writing groups when compelled to be silent about really dreadful work for fear of hurting some nice person's feelings.
I love my ceramics class, though. Almost everyone in the class is, at the very least, talented.
And two of my old friends have turned out to be wonderful painters, and I have bought their work.
I love art, especially things with some personal meaning.

Olga said...

Congrats. I think Stephan Hayes comment says it all.

I was in a writers' group where the routine was to read and then sit and hear how great everyone thought it the piece was. As Friko says, "boring." No growth potential there.

My writers' group now is always kind and always truthful. If something doesn't work, we tell each other. We may make suggestions, but they are merely that because we trust the writer to keep working. I think we have all improved our writing and we remain good friends. I treasure that group.

Chris said...

Congratulations! I like Stephen's advice and the advice to be yourself. I would add that if you can take the attitude that your artwork is not the sum of who you are, you won't take the criticism personally. I belong to a group that does life drawing together. Our comments are mostly complimentary but occasionally someone will point out where someone went wrong when there is still time to work on it. Pick your best work and take pride in it. Write about what is meaningful for you in your art, what about your art enhances your life.

Mage said...

Congratulations. Bravo too. First of all, don't focus on the negative. You have a good eye, and a great sense of color. Acceptance is really hard for some of us especially about criticism. Rain suggests you cannot have a fragile ego, but I sure have one. I just plow on....and it works.

The trick is to just do it.

You will be great. I know it.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Congrats!! You seem to be a very talented photographer.

middle-angel said...

Congratulations! I always like your way of seeing the nature through a camera lens.

Lynilu said...

Great opportunity!

Everywhere in life, we encounter critics, and when it involves a personal creation, that can be tough, but I like that you want to have open discussions. That's the process of improvement, I think. But as several have said, artists tend to have thin skin, and for many even "discussion" feels like "criticism." Be happy you are who you are! Continue creating your lovely reflections!

MaggieGem said...

Congrats on your selection... While I am far from an artist, I do find it difficult to find constructive criticism that will aid in my development so I know how you feel. Hope you enjoy your new adventure.

Kat said...

That is wonderful! Congratulations! How exciting!

I know what you mean about taking compliments with a grain of salt. I do the same thing. But I say in all honesty and sincerity, you are TALENTED!!! You have a gift!!!
I hope you will let us know when you are featured!

chris said...

how exciting!! your photos are just beautiful! be yourself, Tabor - you sound like an amazing, interesting person!

Brian Miller said...

yay that is awesome to see you recognized...even if you dont seek the spotlight...smiles...

Barbara Shallue said...

Good luck and congratulations! I agree with you on critiques - there is always room for improvement and if you really want to get better you welcome critiques with open arms. (That being said, it's always nice to hear that there's something good or pleasing about your art, too. ) I have work on RedBubble, but for community, I still prefer FlickR. There's still a lot of praise, but it's easier to connect and get good, honest feedback.

Barb said...

I once wrote for publication (when I was younger) and submitted to editors who didn't really care about ego - they just knew what needed to be changed or rewritten! Sometimes I thought they were right and sometimes I thought they were wrong, but I always completed the tasks they set before me by deadline! Now, writing only for myself, I am sometimes my own worst critic. Do your best - you were chosen and that means they think you're an artist even if you haven't convinced yourself!

Kerry said...

Go with your gut feelings. Other people's praise and criticism often comes from a subjective vantage point; not that any of it isn't valid, but you are your own best critic.
I see what Stephen is saying, but I never think more is better. Choose your fav photos & think about what they actually do have in common because there will be something.