The Second Rule for Artists: Be Nice

Artists have an unfortunate reputation for being “difficult”.   Some of the greatest artists in history were mercurial, temperamental, and yes, somewhat (or all together) insane.

However, with only the rare exception, I have found the artists I know to also be supportive of their creative tribe.

They share exhibition opportunities, discuss “tricks of the trade”, and are generally kind when asked for a critique.

Obviously, one should also be nice to clients and potential clients, gallery personnel, media representatives, and arts organization personnel.

Surprisingly, the one area where artists are generally not nice is when it comes to themselves.

  • We look at others’ work and bemoan that we will never produce anything half so fine.
  • We walk through museums and come away depressed rather than inspired.
  • We complain that we did nothing but “make mud” during our precious studio time.
  • We dwell on our weak points rather than take pride in our strengths.
  • We cry over not getting into a show and forget to celebrate the ones where we did exhibit.

The quickest way to wash out of a creative occupation is to berate yourself for things out of your control.  Jurors will reject work.  Art fair attendees will walk past your display and buy the “velvet Elvis” at the next booth.

Sunny with an Occasional Rodin
Sunny with an Occasional Rodin

When I first returned to the creative arena it took me a long time before I produced a painting that didn’t make me want to cry.  Instead of taking pride in my progress, I spent months doubting my every brush stroke. I was dejected every time I entered a show and didn’t get in.

Then one day I thought about actors going to audition after audition and being rejected.  An actor can give up on the dream if he/she takes every audition personally.  Sometimes the role calls for a certain body type that one doesn’t have or skills that are rusty.  And sometimes the casting director is just nuts.

Don’t cry over the show you didn’t get into.  Rejoice in the great piece you learned so much from instead.  Be kind to others and to yourself.  Keep creating.

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