The Artist's Dilemma?
December 17, 2010 8:34 PM   Subscribe

You work hard at something and end up creating a piece of art that you consider powerful, moving, possibly even groundbreaking, something that people should be talking about. Then you share it with your friends and some portions of the internet, and no one responds or seems to care. What conclusions do you come to?

This has happened to me enough times that I'd like some sort of advice on what to think in these situations. Am I being pretentious? Am I a narcissist who needs a reality check? And if so, how is it possible to objectively evaluate your own work from the perspectives of other people who don't have your particular mindset? And to the extent that I'm striving to experiment and do things that have never been done before (and draw people out of their comfort zones), should I be deterred by a lack of response? Where do you draw the line between "people don't like it, it sucks" and "people don't get it"? This problem seems to pop up every time I get excited about something I create but no one else shares that excitement. I'm somewhat confident that I have valid and decent opinions on other artists in this particular field -- I run a blog that gets acclaim -- but this appears to be a huge blind spot and I don't know how to process it. Perhaps other artists out there in MeFiLand have experienced this before and have some guidance. And feel free to say things that might come off as harsh.
posted by anonymous to Media & Arts (34 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Art is about taste, about which it is hard to be objective. Above all else, Art is hard work. You might get lucky and earn recognition. You might not and remain obscure. You have to decide how important making your Art is to you, compared with how much you value others response to your Art.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:44 PM on December 17, 2010

Your problem here is marketing. And/or the zeitgeist.

If it helps, remember that many artists and authors died in obscurity and apparent failure, never to know how much their works would mean to the future. Henry Darger comes to mind --
posted by Countess Elena at 8:49 PM on December 17, 2010

Who are these people going "meh"? Are they fellow artists? Are you in touch with some kind of community of artists engaged in the same kind of work who can give you real constructive feedback? It sounds like that's what you're most in need of. You say you're trying to do things that have never been done before, but that doesn't mean you wouldn't benefit from the feedback of a supportive, like-minded community. Once you win them over you will be better prepared for everyone else.
posted by amethysts at 8:52 PM on December 17, 2010

First of all, do you know if your work is getting seen? Maybe it's just a marketing problem.

If you know people are visiting, and either responding disparagingly or not at all, then you can either cater to your audience (which will be skewed due to the demographic makeup of the Internet), or choose not to.

You want to draw people out of their comfort zones, but still want them to love you? That might not work right away.

If you want to get better at making your audience happy, you have to start soliciting criticism from harsh, disinterested sources. Showing your work to your friends is just a cute way of shielding it from real scrutiny. Get a wide enough variety of eyes on what you do, and the critiques will at least start to have some common denominators.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 8:55 PM on December 17, 2010

This is a side-effect of creativity, it's always that people don't get it. There's no accounting for taste.

You can't see through their eyes. Musicians can't hear what the audience hears. It's different when you're on the other side of the brush/guitar/microphone/camera and in over 20 years of trying I have not been able to reconcile this "creator's paradox."

The only thing left is to just do what you do and maybe somebody will get it. Objectivity is a myth, and no amount of explaining your work will bring it into being. Just be excited about it. That in itself is more than a lot of people can muster about their own work. Keep going!
posted by rhizome at 8:59 PM on December 17, 2010 [4 favorites]

No matter how firmly you believe in your vision and work, you can't erase the human need for external validation. What you've described has happened to me many times. It's hurt a lot before, and it's still disappointing today.

A couple of things help me deal with this:

1. When you start on a project, think ahead of time: For whom am I doing this? How will people probably react based on how I've seen them react to the unfamiliar before? If people are going to be completely indifferent, do I still want to put in the work on this? If I expect people to like it, and they don't, will it still have been worth it?

Having answers to those questions ahead of time will set your expectations. You won't set yourself up for a fall.

I recently recorded an album as part of an album-in-a-month challenge. Seven songs ended up on it, and at least one person had something good to say about some aspect of each of the songs, except one of them. I poured a lot of thought into that unloved song, but I wasn't hurt by the non-response because when I started, I thought, man, people hate shit that sounds like this. But I still want to hear it. And so, that song has one repeat listener - me - and that's not shocking or upsetting.

2. Once in a while, take note of what people react to in your work and make something that builds off of that. Yup. Give the people what they want. And of course, still make it something that you want. You can call it pandering, but it's still going to be something that comes from your heart, and doing something for others is not an art crime.

Doing this will feed that part of you that feels empty when you finish a work and no one says anything. You may need it to keep going. When I first started making music, I made a few songs that were total weirdo experiments and a couple that were firmly rooted in certain styles of pop music that I wanted to make fun of. My friends loved the latter, and I realized it was not because they thought the music was brilliant but because the music could pass as that of a "real song" while delivering lyrics that mentioned specific events from our lives. It was like seeing your name in the paper. Well, I made more of these songs anyway. Because the feedback made me feel good, I kept making music, eventually going back to more adventurous, music-for-music's-sake stuff.

So, in short, keep going, manage your expectations when you start on experimental work, and maybe toss out a couple of easier-to-digest crowd pleasers to reconnect with your audience.
posted by ignignokt at 9:00 PM on December 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

Oh, and another thing to keep in mind when you finish something, and it is met with thundering silence: You are building your craft while making your art. Your craftsmanship will be sharpened to make art in the future. You've invested in yourself, even if you didn't connect with many people
posted by ignignokt at 9:03 PM on December 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

I have the same problem. After a year of going at it in the public forum with a limited budget, I've come the conclusions that my artwork is more personal than I thought, therefore hard for others to find the connection, and there is just simply a ton of artwork out there. Between the online contests, sites like Deviant, and free web platforms, it's is just really difficult to find an appropriate audience without throwing down copious amounts of cash or getting extremely lucky. I echo the others in saying it's probably a marketing problem, but likely that the wrong people are seeing your art, not that no one is seeing it at all.
posted by msk1985 at 9:25 PM on December 17, 2010

What conclusions do you come to?

You need to make more things.

In my experience people who really think their work is "groundbreaking" need a reality check in the form of studying art history.
posted by bradbane at 9:39 PM on December 17, 2010 [7 favorites]

You put a lot of weight on the message that your art conveys. Are you sure that your art is conveying that message? This may simply be a communication issue.

It isn't necessarily the job of Art or the Artist to communicate well to the audience. But if that's what you're trying to do, and your art isn't doing it, then that's something you may want to work on.

It's also possible that people get the message, but they just don't care. Hard to say without knowing more about your art, and your goals.

I have cultivated a small circle of friends who I can rely upon to provide brutally honest, yet accurate and well-informed criticism. If you have such friends, then bring your art to them and ask, "Is this communicating X to you? How do you feel about X? What keeps you from engaging with this piece, or with the message?"

If you do not have such friends, then now is the time to find them.

Keep in mind, too, that Art Which Has An Important Message can sometimes come off as overbearing, depressing, trite, or all three in combination. The key element there being to find the right audience, one which is receptive to that sort of thing.
posted by ErikaB at 9:40 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

This reminds me of the experiment (university students?) where manuscripts were sent to publishers and were rejected - some with scathing critiques and suggestions to maybe consider other pursuits. The problem? They were all celebrated works from famous authors. Obviously many of the publishers readers don't get around to reading stuff other than submissions. The moral of the story: it's about marketing. If they think ahead of time (through marketing efforts, etc.) that this will be great stuff - many will concede it's great stuff, whether it is or not.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 9:47 PM on December 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

You. . . creat[e]. . . art that you consider. . . possibly. . . groundbreaking. . . This has happened to me [multiple] times. . .

feel free to say things that might come off as harsh.

It is unlikely that you have actually created multiple works that are genuinely groundbreaking. Don't be discouraged from producing art altogether, but do recognize that your instinctive opinion of your own work appears to be an overestimate rather than an underestimate.
posted by foursentences at 10:04 PM on December 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

My two-year-old daughter has this problem. She puts a lot of effort into producing a single, beautiful, meaning-filled sentence, but the fact of the matter is that I just can't understand what her two-year-old mouth is saying. She gets to the point where she's crying and screaming at me, "saying" the same thing over and over again, and all I can do is calm her down and coach her through different ways of making herself understood ("show me", words not sentences, Chinese not English, etc). She's NOT being narcissistic and she's NOT stupid, she's just not communicating well. And that's the point: she wants me to understand. When she's by herself and making up her cute little songs it doesn't matter if anybody understands. But when she's being a member of the family and interacting with us, making herself understood is a priority worth working toward, a skill worth learning.
posted by msittig at 10:27 PM on December 17, 2010 [4 favorites]

I have read more than once lately that very few people actually leave comments on blogs and websites. Of course, there are artists out there who seem to have a very chatty and devoted following, but it could be just that people are lurking. This SEO Facebook guide suggests that 90% of visitors are lurkers. When I browse Flickr or DevArt, I don't always feel compelled to leave a comment. I'm not sure why, being an artist myself. I look at photographs all day at work and there are very few images that are compelling. Once you've seen enough nature, city and people shots, it's easy to become desensitized to the subject matter. We're becoming an increasingly visual society, and I suspect that in some ways we're tuning out imagery.
posted by Calzephyr at 10:30 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Are you still excited about previous things you have done? Maybe next time you get one of these ideas do it and then sit on it for a few months and see if you think it is so amazing after that amount of time.

Now to repeat what others have said:

Do you have other people critique what you are doing as you are doing it? How many drafts/iterations of your projects do you do?

Do you look to see if what you are doing has already been done? Sometimes people get excited about ideas but refuse to see if it already exists because they believe in it so much, then they are disappointed when no one cares.

I would suggest finding a community of other artists with whom you can discuss what you are doing online or real life.

You really need honest severe criticism to become a good or ground-breaking artist.
posted by thylacine at 12:00 AM on December 18, 2010

"Am I being pretentious? Am I a narcissist who needs a reality check?"

If you are similar to all the other "misunderstood artists" I've known, then very likely the answer to these questions is yes. :( Sorry, but you did say harsh was OK.

Have you had any art school or other professional training? From what I've seen, that actually seems to help artists a lot.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:41 AM on December 18, 2010

You can't see through their eyes. Musicians can't hear what the audience hears. It's different when you're on the other side of the brush/guitar/microphone/camera and in over 20 years of trying I have not been able to reconcile this "creator's paradox."

I don't really have this problem, and I think that's a fair part of why some of the things I've done have received a lot of acclaim - because I can put "me" aside and instead see my work through the eyes of the audience, fresh, and thus deliver a more calibrated experience to them.

When I get "too close" to my work and can't "see" it anymore other than through my own eyes, can't distance myself anymore, then I start asking other people what they think, what they see. It's almost impossible to find people who will be honest even if that means criticism, and insightful enough to offer useful criticism, who aren't also a skewed demographic (such as a fellow practitioner who isn't very good at seeing as if it's fresh and as if s/he lacks the experience in the field), but you do what you can. Maybe take a break. Maybe think about it from a few more angles.

And to the extent that I'm striving to experiment and do things that have never been done before (and draw people out of their comfort zones), should I be deterred by a lack of response? Where do you draw the line between "people don't like it, it sucks" and "people don't get it"?

Why should people bother to get it? They live in a world awash in art. A thousand times more than they can ever digest in their lifetimes. So what's in it for them that would justify them giving a shit about YOUR art? Is there is a reason they should be taken out of the comfort zones? Will they have gained something they view as worth it at the end of it? Is it apparent to them at the outset that they will gain something that makes it worth their time and thought? If not, can you make it so? Is it (like a horror movie, or a rollercoaster) aimed at people who like to be taken out of their comfort zone and actively seek that out? Are you trying to teach people something about a topic that is already over-preached?

What is it that you're giving them, why do they want it, and how do they know they want it?

Someone above asked if you have gone to art school. If you haven't, one of the best lessons I remember was that my entire year's work (various visual arts) was going to be assigned its grade (upon which my future hung) within ten seconds of being viewed. By ten seconds, the evaluators would likely be moving on to the next one. If my work really stood out in those ten seconds, they might be interested enough to linger, but I could not risk my future betting on that - ten seconds is all you can count on.
If you're not already in that mindspace, get there - ten seconds is all you get. Well, it's different for different mediums, but if your work doesn't hook people immediately, they've never see the subtleties and details, because they'll have moved on before they got a chance to notice.

(The same is true of resumes and cover letters)
posted by -harlequin- at 3:15 AM on December 18, 2010 [6 favorites]

Er, I assume it's obvious, but in case it's not; my questions above are for you to ask yourself, not requests for further details and context :)
posted by -harlequin- at 3:21 AM on December 18, 2010

I don't know about art but I know about software.

When writing software, sometimes we have ideas that we think are groundbreaking and amazing and everyone will want them, and mostly we are wrong. Sometimes we think that our user interface will be incredibly intuitive and straightforward, and mostly we are wrong about that too.

The solution to this in the software industry is to mock up the idea and get some a few "end users" in to use it. We ask them to perform some task with it and see how they get on, or we ask them "what do you think this is for?" or "Would you expect to be able to do X with this?".

Then we take the results and use them to make another version, rinse and repeat.

When we start, we go in with the expectation that there will be maybe about three attempts at the thing, and several may be thrown away.

After years of experience of this, some software people start to get a knack for it, a library of ideas that are known to work, and can knock up something useful and usable and beautiful more easily without quite such a runaround. Some people never do. Very very few people can do it right off the bat.
posted by emilyw at 4:06 AM on December 18, 2010

I am an artist who has gone through classic art school training.

When I had experiences like yours early on, it was because my ideas were not reflected in my work. At all. With critique and time, this became obvious to me.

After I resolved that problem, it was because my work was ugly and unappealing.

After I resolved that, it was because my work was talking about things that had already been well-explored by others and so "what I had to say" was trite and boring, cliched.

After I found more interesting ideas to explore, I found that art has a strong personality bias. You have to seduce people into liking you and the art both to have the maximum impact. Almost no-one evaluates art without thinking about the artist.

After I got people looking at the work, I had to drop my grandiose dreams about being "groundbreaking" and work on simply being very, very good. The best ___ ever done is a much better approach than the first ___ ever done, because someone has already done it. Guaranteed, and people with more Art History knowledge will tell you all about it.

After that I realized that Art is competing with movies, ads, and all modern graphics, which are incredibly, fantastically seductive and appealing things carefully designed to elicit certain emotions and cause certain behaviors. People are rewarded by them and discuss them and think about them. You want to do the same thing. You want 30 seconds of someones' time? During the SuperBowl, that costs millions. You want me to look at your painting for that long? Give me some reason to do it -- pay me in respect by giving me something beautiful, intriguing, and carefully crafted in exchange for my attention.

Finally, you may need to think about your medium. If you are making oil paintings and no one is paying attention, you shouldn't be surprised. Most people think of paintings as something to hang in their living room, and not something to think about in any depth. That is Just Fine, and Not Something You Can Change or Get Upset About, but consider the effect it has on your message. Or maybe you're making sculptures that are, in the end, ugly and strange and no one would want them around. In that case, your message, your ideas will go nowhere. Maybe your ideas are better expressed some other way -- short essays, short films, songs, whatever. If it turns out that making an ugly, strange, or ho-hum thing is more important to you than communicating your ideas, figure out why that is and make your work about that.

It's a long road. You're right to be thinking this way and asking these questions. Good luck going forward.
posted by fake at 5:50 AM on December 18, 2010 [8 favorites]

Add me to the me-too list. In fact, I think you have to be extraordinarily lucky to never encounter this, and extraordinarily self-assured to never let it get to you. But if you're ever going to produce anything good - for yourself if not for an audience - you have to learn to bounce back from a disappointing reception. Self-consciousness will sabotage your art long before critics get a chance to.

You have to mentally take yourself down a peg, but boost yourself up at the same time. It's possible to fall into a paradox where you simultaneously think you're brilliant and absolute shit. It tends to happen when the disconnect between your perception of your work and its public reception is too huge to reconcile. If your opinion of your work is at 100 and your (perceived) audience's opinion is at 10, that'll fuck with your head. So you have to get those numbers a little closer together to make your mental accounting a little easier - a sweet spot where you're modest enough not to be thrown by poor reception, but confident enough to keep putting stuff out there. You are probably not the next chapter in art history or critics' darling. But you're not worthless, either.

On another note, one of the first things I discovered when I started sharing more of my work this year was that it's a considerable challenge to create something that the audience interprets exactly the way you meant. We can do this in writing, because we spent a lot of our school years learning how to write well, but when you extend that to images or music, you have to learn an entirely new vocabulary - which isn't as well-known by the audience, either. Stepping away from your work for a few days can help with that. Enlisting the help of a friend is good, too, so you can get a fresh perspective. You'll get a lot of "I really liked [seemingly-irrelevant detail]" and "what is that?" and it'll sting at first, but you'll come to value it.

And don't underestimate the power of marketing. Maybe you don't want to do a whole lot of self-promotion, and that's okay. But success isn't strictly based on merit; it's often a combination of luck and generating hype.

A lot of people talk about creative works as artists' "babies," which makes sense because they're labors of love and the artists have uniquely strong bonds with them. If you extend that metaphor a little bit, then it follows that works of art, like babies, have their own lives and personalities, and something you created yourself can turn out to be not the straightforward extension of yourself that you imagined. If you want your baby to grow up, you have to let it out of your protective circle so it can skin its knees and learn to cross the street and stand up to jerks.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:15 AM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

You have to get the right eyeballs in front of it, probably.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:23 AM on December 18, 2010

Have you ever tried taking a class that has a workshop approach to your artform? You can learn a lot about where you are failing or succeeding by observing people's reactions. I don't just mean the words they say about your art, but also their body language and facial expressions. That will give you a lot more information than you can get by sharing your art online.
posted by prefpara at 6:29 AM on December 18, 2010

You work hard at something and end up creating a piece of art that you consider powerful... What conclusions do you come to?

>> You need to make more things.

You did a study with one sample. Try to get up to ten or twenty. And the class or workshop is a good idea. Listen to the critique by the teacher and the students. A good teacher will find at least something to praise, however minute, in any sincere effort. You should first be talking with your work with other people who are trying to do similar things, maybe some of them for a long time.

Yes, it's motivating to get a reward. Sometimes it's even more motivating to prove those dumb bastards wrong.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:14 AM on December 18, 2010

Look at the Captain Beefheart obituary thread. Many people call his Trout Mask Replica a masterpiece, but almost no-one likes it on the first needle drop. Someone they respect told them to look further, they did, and now they are admirers.

Can you post whatever it is into this thread? I think you can count on this group for well-informed and well-meaning reactions.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:24 AM on December 18, 2010

Artists create for their own enjoyment, entertainers for the enjoyment of their audiences. Which do you really want to be?
posted by gjc at 8:07 AM on December 18, 2010

... a piece of art that you consider powerful, moving, possibly even groundbreaking, something that people should be talking about. Then you share it with your friends and some portions of the internet, and no one responds or seems to care.

This has happened to me enough times that ...

I kind of think that creating something powerful or groundbreaking is rare even for the very talented, so if this is happening 'often' I think it's possible you're not evaluating the groundbreaking-ness of your own work accurately.

Also, the internet just says 'meh' pretty often, so you could certainly not take it personally.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 8:16 AM on December 18, 2010

I haven't seen your work, and I have no idea who you are or what you do, but in my experience the artists who think that they're "groundbreaking" are wrong, and "trying to take people out of their comfort zone" is code for, "I don't really know what I'm doing in a technical sense." It is likely to conform to a stereotypical style that is built on being an outsider thing. "Goth" art/artists typically fall into this category.

Again, I have no idea about your work, but what you're saying is what I hear from these kinds of artists.

Everybody doesn't have to "get" your work. In fact, it's probably better that they don't. however, if NO ONE cares or understands, then since we're no longer subject to the paradigms that made a Van Gogh possible, then you're probably just masturbating.

But then, most of the artists who actually make money really are just masturbating or pandering directly to the rich. Just work. No matter how good you are the chances of becoming recognized are astronomically slim. If you're really confident in your intellect and ability, then that's all you can do.

One more thing. The internet is not a good place for "groundbreaking" in the art-world sense, unless you're working with the internet as a medium. You have absolutely no control over how real-world work is viewed. Monitors are small or big and have different color balances and there are all kinds of buttons and websites that change the way things are viewed. There's no scale on the internet. Some kind of amazing drawing on paper probably would not translate well to a website.
posted by cmoj at 9:54 AM on December 18, 2010

For me there is a simple two-word answer: 1. Quit 2. Caring.

I am too well grounded in what actual art is to ever consider what I do as "art." Even so, I put a lot of work into it and take a lot of pride in the 20 or 25% or so that, in my opinion, "works" (whatever that means).

After 20 years of plugging at the lower 1/3 of mediocrity, I came to realize that many people who claimed to've experienced my work had not, in fact, done so (i.e. were telling me what they thought I wanted to hear). And that the awards I won were rigged. And that the lack of commercial success didn't mean that the marketing was bad, or that I was building, or that my time would come around; what all this meant was that most people don't like my stuff.

Accepting this has been liberating. I have abandoned the aspects of that world that were irksome, tedious, or unrewarding; and I am keeping for myself the parts that I love and find to be fulfilling. And when people ask how things are going with "all that," I just smile and say I'm working on a big project (which is true). And when they ask when it's coming out, my reply is that I don't know, which is also true; because I have 1. quit 2. caring.
posted by charris5005 at 10:25 AM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Artist here. You simply cannot insist to your audience (who?) that you are doing something new, something groundbreaking, or something unbelievable. Once you've said what it is, or the message you're trying to convey, the door on what it could be, what you don't even see, closes. Have you ever seen an artist standing around in the gallery (other than at their show opening) explaining their work to every passerby? It's simply not possible for everyone to get it. Objectivity is a myth. Here are some suggestions:

1) Get into a critique atmosphere. You need to get into a community of like-minded people who are artists, and not necessarily the same kind of artists as you. A multi-disciplined approach to your work will help you better understand what it is that you're doing. I'm willing to bet that even though you insist you know what your work is doing - you don't have any idea.

2) You cannot expect to thrill your audience every time. It simply won't happen. I've made several ultimately underwhelming works that I was ridiculously excited about and had them fall completely flat because I used to insist that "this-is-what-my-work-is-saying-and-you-can-all-go-to-hell-if-you-don't-get-it". STOP DOING THIS. Your work will be better off if you let go of your expectations.

3) Stop caring. Just quit caring what everyone else's reactions are.

4) Depending on what kind of work you're doing, the internet is not the place to show it. The internet critics are much harsher than real-world critics; you need to show your work in a gallery setting or some kind of alternative space.

5) Realize that your "groundbreaking" and "out-of-your-comfort-zone" art HAS been done before. You are not the first artist to think that they created their work in a vacuum. I'm not trying to be harsh, but if you are able to set up a critique with other like-minded people, they will surely call you out on your bullshit. There have been several times where I thought I was the sole person on the planet messing around with this material/idea only to find that at least five other artists have done the same thing and way better than me.

6) Again, not to be harsh, learn some modesty and lose the ego. You'll get better reactions if you stop insisting that your art is something that it's not. The majority of people won't see what you see, and - here's the most important part - IT'S OK.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 3:55 PM on December 18, 2010

Mod note: From the OP:
There are some tremendously great answers here! I was drunk when I asked the question, so sorry if things didn't come through properly. I will be reading the thread many times and thinking about it. Thank you.

Since nearly everyone is focusing on the 'groundbreaking' word I used, I thought I'd clarify a bit. I wrote "you consider powerful, moving, possibly even groundbreaking" and I meant 'possibly' and 'even' as huge qualifiers. By 'groundbreaking' I meant moving this particular subniche of this field of art forward in a new direction, however incrementally. I'm encountering hundreds of pieces every year that I consider to be 'moving the art forward in exciting ways'. I'm not convinced it's a character flaw to assess that your artwork might possibly rank with those pieces. My mentality for my own personal work is: If you don't rate your own stuff highly, if you think it's mediocre or just another rehashing, why bother sharing it with the world?

(Outside of this anonymous thread, I don't go around telling other people that I think my work might be something special. I barely provide anything more than a casual "hey, here's something I did". Maybe that's the marketing problem some have mentioned.)
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:27 PM on December 18, 2010

Why do you care what they think? Are you doing this for your or them? You can F art history. You can F critical studies. Real artists generally don't make stuff to be loved. They do it because they HAVE to, because they're artists.
posted by flowerofhighrank at 12:46 AM on December 19, 2010

I'm not convinced it's a character flaw to assess that your artwork might possibly rank with those pieces. My mentality for my own personal work is: If you don't rate your own stuff highly, if you think it's mediocre or just another rehashing, why bother sharing it with the world?

Sure. "If you don't toot your own horn, your horn won't be heard." However, other people are appreciating your work on different terms than you are, the "other side of the brush" metaphor I used earlier. You have a conflict of interest in that you know what went into the work, what it "means," etc. Other people, unless you're insufferably narrating your work when you show it to people (which you say you do not), don't have access to that information and I believe it's impossible for creators to limit their knowledge of their work after the fact in order to evaluate it on the audience's terms.

Also, the more you strive for "groundbreaking work," the fewer people will be prepared and receptive to it, almost by definition.
posted by rhizome at 1:26 PM on December 19, 2010

What conclusions do you come to?

None because then I'd be trying to read minds and, I suck at it.

Your question is impossible to answer, there's no way to tell why you're not getting the attention you think you deserve. It just leaves me wanting to ask a bunch of questions.

Are you engaging people on the internet? And, how are you doing it; putting yourself out there, or holding back in your comfort zone? Pushing boundaries how? Conceptual to the point of obtuseness, or boringly cliqued? When people tell you they don't get it do you listen to what they have to say? What response are you looking for? Are you doing it because if you didn't you'd burst, or are you doing it for the eventual acclaim? If its the former, you need to stop worrying why people don't like it otherwise you'll get all knotted up inside which can lead down the path to The Painter of Light and, Hallmark dodads in order to appease the audience. Been there done that, its soul crushing. If its the latter? Fake raises a good point about the art world about how its more about personality and salesmanship than good art.

I do what I do because if I didn't I'd climb the walls. I do it for me and the pleasure I get from getting better at what I do and, all the interesting things I learn along the way when I'm doing research. Sod the rest. Stop caring about what other people think.
posted by squeak at 10:40 PM on December 19, 2010

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