Last week I got an email from an "art curator/historian" questioning the substance and depth of my "art".
I wrote a thoughtful, inquisitive reply. l hoped she wanted to have a genuine conversation, but it immediately became clear that her intention was to cut me down.
I deleted her emails and reminded myself that her opinion means nothing, but it still got to me. I researched famous artists and read articles on art criticism. I watched a few shows on contemporary art.
AT THAT POINT, I REALIZED THIS WAS NOT MY TRUTH.
My art is spontaneous and abstract. That doesn't mean it's shallow. I don't deeply contemplate what to say before I paint. I don't plan. I typically don't provide a social commentary. That doesn't mean it lacks substance.
My art is pure, in-the-moment emotional expression.
And there's no way that cannot be substantive.
It isn't right or wrong, it just is what it is.
If you've also chosen a less popular path—to forgo art school, to start a business without a degree, to teach yourself how to code–chances are, you will encounter similar criticism.
CRITICISM IS A CROSSROAD.
You can either look at the more accepted paths as superior and attempt to conform to them while leaving your truth behind, or you can say, "Screw it, I'm doing it my way."
I'm making my art MY way. What is the point if you are not making art, (or doing business, or building your life) in a way that is REAL and lights YOU up?
I don't make stuff for approval. I don't paint for recognition. I make art because it's me.
TO ME, IT IS ART.
THEREFORE: IT IS ART.
The next time someone tries to tell you how you should be doing something..
Step back. Give them a chance. Listen. Is there any little sliver you can take from what they're saying to get closer to your truth?
If so, great. Take it, and move on. And if not, screw it. You know yourself better.
You define your art. Art is what you say it is. Art can feel however you want. It can be whatever you want. You don't owe anything to anyone.
What makes you different from and uncomfortable to others makes you fantastic. Embrace your contrasts. They make you YOU!