As an artist I thought I would write this post to help educate the non-artists out there about how I think about my art after it is gone from my inventory---sold or donated or gifted. But first a word about the creation of it.
What is that doubt about? For me it is that little voice that asks
if I charged too much (too little?) and if that buyer will continue to
think their purchase was worth what they paid. Will they cherish that
art or will it be a regretted purchase that in time is relegated to a
closet or drawer somewhere---or worse to the trash bin!
When you buy a piece of art it doesn't have to hang in your home or in the
same place in your home for the rest of your life. My mom used to
rotate her artwork on a seasonal basis, and depending on how those
seasons made her feel. No hot colors in August and no cold ones in
January. Joyous life in Spring and cozy warmth in Winter. And over the
couch is not the only location for artwork. I have art down my hallway
and in my bathrooms and enjoy it no less in those spaces. Give each
piece of art new life by putting it away for a while and then displaying
it again with a fresh outlook. For my own collection it allows me to see things in
the art that I might not have noticed or felt before. Feel free to display an eclectic mix of art together in a room. It doesn't have to match the furniture. You just have to like it.
Many artists have self doubt about what they are doing and why. Even
though I feel a passion for what I do and feel like my pieces are
successful in my own mind, I still have that niggling bit of doubt that
anyone else will think the same. This is one reason I enjoy showing my
work to various groups or friends. Any positive comments they might
offer are so rewarding and in some ways motivating. Just like with any
job a person has, positive feedback helps us do better and continue our
work with a positive attitude about it. When someone is actually
interested in paying us money for what we create that is truly a gift to
our psyche. For a while it is elating and inspires us to continue
doing what we are doing with our art.
Because I have that artist's doubt in my life, I can't tell you how much I appreciate and cherish when someone tells me that they have one of my pieces and still love it. The fact that they even remember it is my work is enough for me to feel good about it. But if they still love it---that is the ultimate! Knowing that my work stands the test of time and that people continue to notice it in their spaces and connect it with me and are glad they have acquired it is reaffirming, supportive, and keeps me going to the studio and being creative. I don't know if people realize how good it is for an artist to hear that they still notice and enjoy an artist's work, but I'm here to tell you that it is definitely worth your effort to tell the artist that. I have gotten notes and emails from people who noticed my work at a national level quilt show and were so struck by it that they remembered it and made the effort to let me know they liked it. That is so gracious--and so appreciated. Some artists may respond very humbly and just quietly accept your comments with a mumbled thank you, but rest assured they will remember it and it will boost their confidence. I am grateful to those who have told me about the work of mine that they own and how much they continue to enjoy it.
We are not artists so that we can make art for our closets. We want to share it. We put it in shows and galleries, we post it on-line, we show it to friends and acquaintances. We put it out there and because it is a part of us that makes us vulnerable. When the response to it is positive we feel good about it. For me it means that I am justified in spending time, effort, expense and creative energy in my studio creating art. I will do it anyways because it is a passion, but justifying those things makes it a whole lot easier!
So thank you to those kind people who think of complimenting the artist and sharing with them your positive thoughts about their work. If you live with it and enjoy it we would love to hear about it. If you admire a piece on display somewhere we (the artists) would love to hear about it. If you see the work in a magazine or at a show and really enjoyed it, let the artist know. You are what gives me some of the inspiration that goes into my work. It helps me put into it the joy and happiness that a fulfilling occupation provides. I'm not "fishing for compliments" here or hoping to get a bunch of half-hearted flattery. Just some good honest sharing about the art you enjoy with the artists who make it if you should feel so inclined.
I hope I have impressed upon you the value of positive reinforcement to the creative process and how you play a part in that process.
Now go forth and enjoy art!
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