NEVER ASSUME. IT REALLY CAN MAKE AN ASS OUT OF YOU AND (OR) ME!!!
Something has been on my mind for quite some time now. I have met many people in the last few years who are in various fields of the arts. I have thought about addressing this issue in the past, but something recently has prompted me to do it now. There’s one thing that bugs me and perhaps other artists, past and present. That one thing is this:
OBSERVERS OF ANOTHER’S ART ASSUMING THEY KNOW WHAT THE ARTIST WAS THINKING OR FEELING AT THE TIME OF CREATING THEIR ART.
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with wondering what an artist was thinking while they worked on a piece whether I like the piece or not. Wondering about it and assuming I know what the artist was thinking or feeling at the time are two horses of a different color, my friends. For instance, if I am intrigued by someone’s art, I will tell them kindly what I think about it. I will bring attention to the parts I like most. I will encourage the artist. If for some reason I am not that intrigued by their art, I will not criticize it in a mean or negative way just because I have a “right” to my own opinion. I may ask the artist a question or two about why they did something a certain way, because I am interested in what they were thinking while they worked on it, though.
However, what I will NEVER do is assume I understand where that person was emotionally, mentally or physically, when they created their art. This goes for anything: a drawing, painting, sculpture, piece of writing, novel, comic book, or anything to do with music – lyrics, melody, harmony, arrangement, etc. An example is the band of twenty one pilots. First of all, that’s how their band name is supposed to look – no capitals or dashes, okay? Second, I am not going to assume, that Tyler Joseph, the singer, is or ever has been suicidal just because suicide is a common theme in many of his lyrics. I don’t assume the people who love their music are suicidal either! You know what, though? Tyler obviously sees that many people are killing themselves these days, especially teenagers. He says so in their song “Fake You Out.” In their song, “Truce” he says, “stay alive, stay alive for me…” I admire him as an artist who is not afraid to sing about the frickin’ hard stuff in life that most people shy away from. Life is hard. Learning to deal with it is half the battle.
Now, getting back to the subject I started out with. Here is what I think everyone needs to keep in mind before they compliment or criticize or inquire about someone’s art:
1) Think before you speak. Do you just want to say what you think without first considering the recipient’s feelings? Are you so anxious to speak that you don’t care how what you say is received? Is your opinion THAT important, really? Keep this in mind also – anything that takes creativity to produce comes from that person’s soul. It comes from their essence, the place where only they and God can understand the feelings, emotions, or events that stirred them to produce the piece.
2) Think about who you are talking to. First, have you ever met them? Do you already have some sort of relationship developed with them? Are you familiar with their work? Do you know anything about them at all? Are you jealous of their skill or talent? In other words what is your motive for your judgment on their work? Is it to build them up and encourage them? Or is it to tear them down? Is it to make yourself feel like you know them better than they know themselves? Granted, there are many times people have seen things in me that I was blind to at the time, but I guarantee you that they had already known me for years in a close relationship. Also, if they had to point out something difficult that they knew I was struggling with, they had first earned the right to do that! They were not some random person off the street who had never met me assuming they knew how I think and feel.
3) If you think you see something YOU perceive as a problem or struggle in a person through a piece of work they’ve done, think long and hard before you assume it’s perfectly fine to bring it up to them. Remember: it is YOUR perception. Are we always right about our perceptions of others? I have never been able to read anyone’s mind; have you?
Now I am all for constructive criticism of anything I do and put out there for the world to see. Note the word “constructive.” Is the question, suggestion or whatever you’re thinking of saying going to encourage me or help another? Are my criticisms going to help or hinder others? This is what I always ask myself before I tell anyone what I think about their art or music. However, what I do not appreciate is being “psychoanalyzed” by a complete stranger who doesn’t know me at all. I don’t want to hear someone TELL me what the different aspects in a piece I do means!
This brings me to the main reason for this post. Someone told me what they thought the nude in my depression painting meant. I’m not going to repeat anything this person said; I don’t even remember who they are. I was going to respond to them, but I decided I wanted to write this piece instead. Anyway, they said the nude meant something so off base it was ridiculous. You want to know why she is nude? I was copying a pose from a book!! The drawing of the girl is nude. I do not draw people well. I tried to figure out how to put clothes on her; I couldn’t. That’s it! No hidden meaning there!
I hear art critics can be pretty harsh sometimes, and if any of us enters any kind of art contest or submits a piece for publishing, then we should well expect it. I’ve heard artists referred to as “overly sensitive” or “needing a thick skin.” Granted, that very well may be true for some people. After all, it is not realistic to expect or even hope for everyone to love what any of us do or decide to share with others. I certainly wasn’t raised to believe this way. My mom always told me not everyone is going to like me or what I do! I have found this wisdom to be true.
Anyway, this has become much longer than I intended, so if you stuck with me to the end, thank you. It means a lot.
Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug! 🙂