How do I let go of the bullshit?
July 17, 2013 12:23 PM   Subscribe

I just authored a very public, very high profile work of art. This is my first big entry into a field that I have been working in for a couple of years. I'm very proud of it, and, for the most part, it's been received really well. But, of course, there have been people who have nitpicked at it, and I find myself dwelling on those criticisms.

It's important to note that I tend to be pretty thin skinned, which is an awful trait for someone who creates public works of art, and I'm trying to get better about it. I'm not any less proud of it because of the criticisms I've gotten, but they do tend to affect me more than I would like.

How do I let go of all that negativity? How do I take valid criticisms and discount the garbage? How do I learn from this experience and get better at what I do and continue to grow as an artist?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (34 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
My personal policy is that once I put something out into the world, work-wise, I don't listen to what strangers say about it. Good, bad, indifferent. I don't read reviews, I don't allow other people to relay information to me about what people are saying about it. I simply don't hear those things. I have people in my life, both personally and professionally, whom I trust to give me real, important feedback about my work. Some of those people are my unabashed cheerleaders, and some of them are people with more experience and talent than I have who will critique me, but in constructive ways, and with enough caring that it doesn't feel hurtful. So I listen to those people. But I do not read comments sections of things or media accounts, and I do not have conversations with strangers in which they try to tell me how I did, and I ask the people I'm close to not to tell me about those things unless there's something in there that I need to know. It keeps me sane, and it ensures that I'm not dwelling on garbage from people who probably don't really know what they're talking about anyway.

(I'm not an artist, but I apply this policy both to my personal writing, which has appeared on the internet where everyone feels free to say whatever pops into their head about it, and to my day-job, which involves a fair amount of public speaking in front of strangers, sometimes on matters of wide public concern.)
posted by decathecting at 12:30 PM on July 17, 2013 [14 favorites]

I'm not an artist, but I have had a couple of books published, and I've always found that the best way to let go of the crap is to begin work on the next project immediately. Once something you've created is out in the world, it doesn't "belong" only to you in the same way a work under development does. Working on something new and focussing on the process helps keep things in perspective, and reinstates that sense of control.
posted by rpfields at 12:32 PM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]

The phrase haters gonna hate has actually helped me immensely in this regard. There is a certain percentage of the population that you will NEVER please. Your job is to make art for the rest of the people, not the haters.

There are people who hate babies and people who hate chocolate and people who hate kittens. People who will jump into online forums and profess loudly their absolute and utter contempt for the entire Beatles discography.

The dislike by a few of your piece is a byproduct of living on this planet: vast and full of people who do and think EVERYTHING.
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:33 PM on July 17, 2013 [23 favorites]

The only way anyone can avoid criticism, is to never do anything of any consequence.

The fact that your work is generally well received means that you're ahead of the game compared to people in many other fields (street performers? standup comics?), who pretty much have to start out by performing badly, repeatedly, in public, because it's the only way to learn their craft.
posted by emilyw at 12:33 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

So.. this is one of those wacky therapy things but it works for me..

imagine all these things are tangible. I imagine they are pieces of paper. I envision myself taking these paper-problems, wadding them up into a ball, flinging them far away from me and that they sail so far away I can't see where they land. Sometimes I pretend to actually throw invisible balls of paper.

I know right. Sounds stupid. I thought it was stupid before I first tried it. It won't get rid of the feelings completely, but give myself a gentle reminder when those thoughts resurface that I took these problems and threw them away and shouldn't let them bother me anymore.

YMMV, but it's worth a shot.
posted by royalsong at 12:35 PM on July 17, 2013 [6 favorites]

Here's another tool for your arsenal: a study shows that a single negative review among a slate of glowing reviews can turn someone off of buying a product. I like this because it reminds me that this kind of negative-seeking behavior is hard-wired into our brains. It's a trait all of us have. But, knowing this, we can choose to believe that signal from our brain or not.

If you catch yourself in this lizard-brain behavior, try countering it with reminders about all the positive feedback you've received!
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:39 PM on July 17, 2013

CBT might help. Writing down what you're feeling in regards to the criticism gets it out of your head. It will look much smaller then and can't twist endlessly. Writing down the things you know are true and positive will affirm them.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:42 PM on July 17, 2013

The pure unadulterated subjectivity of the arts aside; three thoughts:

1. Some people will relate, some will not. Those that do will appreciate it, those that don't will not.

2. Not everyone is going to like me or what I do, and I am not going to like everyone or what they do. Sometimes for really superficial and silly reasons. I need to accept both sides of that fence.

3. When it comes to pure opinion and subjectivity, what other people think of me is none of my business.

It's tough to separate, as often to a creator, my work is a personal reflection of myself, but whatever I make, whether it be a piece of art, a poem, a story, or just dinner, it is not necessarily a reflection of who I am as a person, an artist, an author, or a chef. I am constantly changing. I still cringe in shame at many of my teenaged (and not so teenaged), angst-ridden creations, which I thought were profound at the time. Good or bad, my work is a snapshot of a state of mind or a moment or collection of moments in my life. Nothing more.

From your post, as your work seems to be a widely seen and appreciated piece of art, some people are just going to dislike it. (see point 1). I'm sure you've probably told yourself that a hundred times by now, and unfortunately, knowing that doesn't always take the sting out of it. At the very last, what usually helps me is the thought of: "Who am I to deny someone their feelings?"

Art triggers feelings, and while constructive criticism always trumps "Blech, this sucks." I don't have the right, nor should I have the expectation, to deny anyone an emotion.
posted by Debaser626 at 12:48 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Exposure = Visability = Envy = You're a target!

Watch out about trying to "toughen yourself up." Your thin-skinness may be essential to you being an artist! It may be precisely because you're "thin skinned" that the world is able to speak to you in a way that fuels your vision.

If you had a choice between being thick-skinned or continuing as an artist, which would you choose?

If this theory is right, try not to read or listen to people who just have toxic envious snarky criticism to offer. If you *do* find that some piece of toxic BS has found its way into your mind, don't struggle against it - don't agree with it either. Just observe, as if the criticism were some sculpture or painting or some random piece of art produced by someone else. Who knows, maybe it'll be the seed for your next work?

Just breathe, thank your mind for showing you that interesting piece of criticism/art/thing, and move on. When your mind grabs it up again, repeat as many times as necessary.
posted by jasper411 at 12:54 PM on July 17, 2013 [6 favorites]

Congratulations, first off. Next, it's hard to do, but this is one of those things that comes with practice and time. As you get more experienced at your craft and more experienced with "feedback," you will discern what is wheat and what is chaff.
posted by thinkpiece at 12:55 PM on July 17, 2013

I used to have this problem when I did consulting. I would put on a very good class, get rave reviews, and one person out of 40 would write something negative and I would dwell on that one negative review all the way home in the car (4 hrs), somehow not dwelling on all the positives.

Eventually, I realized that the reviews are not actually about my class (or your art) but they are the reflection of someone's IMPRESSION of the class (or art). I have no control over how people will react to anything, nor am I responsible for their opinions. Now I can view the negative review and think something like, "I wonder why that person is so far off from the rest?"

There is no way to please everyone. I also learned this while refereeing football. No matter what decision I made, half the people on the field were pissed at me. Make the call, one team is pissed. Don't make the call, the other team is pissed.

The only thing to do is call 'em like you see 'em; or in your case, make art as you see fit and let the impressions fall as they may.

posted by gnossos at 12:55 PM on July 17, 2013

If you're being criticized, that means you're evoking a response from people who are actually looking at your work. It's hard not to take it to heart, but using the fact of criticism as a goal works for me.

My first play's first review (in a major paper in Boston) started by saying, "Do you admire the musicians on the Titanic for playing as the ship sank? So much that you'd stay onboard to listen?" It was the most cutting review I'd ever read of anything, and I have that framed in my house, because it's good to know that I managed to write and produce something that, even though it wasn't as good as I could get, it was something people looked at and formed opinions about.
posted by xingcat at 1:06 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

This kind of thing is why it is a good idea to read nothing about yourself in public, if you can pull it off. That's my plan if I do anything big like that.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:07 PM on July 17, 2013

I find Ann Friedman's Disapproval Matrix helpful for evaluating both positive and negative feedback. The graphic is largely self-explanatory, but she sums it up in words, too:
When you receive negative feedback that falls into one of the top two quadrants—from experts or people who care about you who are engaging with and rationally critiquing your work—you should probably take their comments to heart. When you receive negative feedback that falls into the bottom two quadrants, you should just let it roll off your back and just keep doin’ you.
It makes sense to think of criticism in those terms: criticism from objective people who are offering constructive, informative evaluation is worth your attention --- but that criticism isn't a criticism of you or your value. It is an appraisal of the work, and it can be very useful in assessing how to improve in the future. Even excellent work can benefit from that!

And I feel the converse is true, too: that private criticism by people who know and care about you is important because it is harder for the creator to hear and therefore harder for the critic to deliver, so they probably feel strongly about it... maybe much more strongly than they are saying.
posted by Elsa at 1:12 PM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]

But, of course, there have been people who have nitpicked at it, and I find myself dwelling on those criticisms.

Please name a work of art that is universally beloved. People have David. People hate the Mona Lisa. People hate O'Keefe. People hate Basquiat. Is there some reason you should be more beloved than these people?
posted by DarlingBri at 1:22 PM on July 17, 2013 [8 favorites]

Oh man, not being able to distinguish between good and bad criticism is the worst, my sympathes. What's helped me is internalizing that all art comes down to an emotional response, and there's no real way to be logical or consistent with emotional responses, cause if the art is doing its job then it should hit you there, and I like my work, it affects me, and it doesn't matter if it doesn't affect others in the same way- I am writing for an audience but I am also writing for myself and I don't release stuff I'm not proud of. If I like it is the only metric of success to matters to my work and it's helped with that buzzing, anxious worry that criticism and being public with your art can create.
posted by The Whelk at 2:00 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

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posted by thirdletter at 2:19 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

This isn't an easy problem to solve, and it is something that artists commonly deal with throughout their careers.

Consider an artist that is finding some kind of success. No matter how much success they find, there will always be people who hate the work. Always. Show me a picture of a squirrel eating ice cream while perched on the arm of a happy toddler, and you'll still have haters who hate on it, some for legitimate reasons, and some who hate because the ice cream looks like it might be a flavor that they don't like. Hell, some people will hate on it because they want to upset the people who love the picture, and for no other reason.

Sooner or later, every artist discovers the negativity. If they encounter it early and often (say, from years of working at it and not being a success) they'll probably have a thick skin and be okay, but if they found success without encountering much (or any!) resistance, then they'll be in trouble when the criticism comes.

At this point, the suddenly thin-skinned artist will have to deal with it. Typically, this is done by avoiding all of it, which seems totally healthy -- why should someone craft their art to try and please the critics? -- but if they've achieved any measure of success, they're probably surrounded by sycophants who tell them their work is awesome with no critical eye whatsoever. That's not good, because one-sided praise without a counterpoint can lead an artist to craft their art to get more praise, and with everyone saying "that's great" no matter what choices they make...well, they can go very, very far in a terrible, terrible direction. Welcome to Divatown.

So what do you do? Well, step one -- avoid unfiltered criticism -- is definitely the right one to take. Now, though, you have to take step two: assemble trusted sources. Critics whose opinions you respect, even when they're negative. Friends who aren't afraid to tell you when you're doing something that's shit. And, of course, your own internal critic, who you need to keep listening to even when everyone around you is telling you "your work is shit" or "your work is awesome".

Often, your internal critic will be in opposition to whatever your trusted sources are telling you, and that's normal and fine. Your internal critic is the only one that really matters, and your trusted sources just serve to help you calibrate that.
posted by davejay at 2:20 PM on July 17, 2013

Go read one star reviews of great books, books you love. Then read some five star reviews of pure crap, books you hate. Take solace that some people are morons.
posted by peep at 2:21 PM on July 17, 2013 [12 favorites]

Valid criticisms come from those who have already perfected the art. If said critic is not a master, then it is only opinion. Only the criticisms of masters will take you forward in the perfection of your art. Find people devoted to mastery and learn from them.

I'd say focus on your love of the art and the desire to master it in the soul of your being.

Thin skin is not trusting your own voice. Thicken the skin with a well-timed "eh, fuck em!" If you read the blatherings of a lesser-than critic, give a good ol' FU and toss it away. If it's a website, print the page, and then rip it. Get a crap stamp. Stamp it on. Feels so good.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 2:39 PM on July 17, 2013

As a very critical person myself, and also as someone who has so many flaws, just remember that these people criticizing you would not hold up to public scrutiny, or rather would at least take a lot of heat. Almost nobody would hold up. Basically I think there's Tom Hanks and... well pretty much just Tom Hanks. Everybody else falls short.

Imagine if somebody hacked your email and your web browsing habits and secretly filmed you at home and at work and aired all of your life to the world. You'd be horrified. Suddenly everybody would have an opinion and you'd be so exposed as not perfect and people would absolutely pile on. Why? It's easy. Something has been tossed out into the center of the ring and it's something to talk about. It's something to do. We wouldn't bother but there it is in front of us and there's no accountability or consequences so jabber jabber jabber. This happens any time something gets tossed out there voluntarily or involuntarily. And if it were the life of any one of your critics, they would be found sorely wanting by a crowd that demands perfection.

Most of us avoid that spotlight. But here you are, somebody who has been brave enough to create something, to share something from inside yourself, and to lay it out in front of the world, come what may. Suddenly the masses will comment just because that's what they do, and there will be a spread of comment types. This happens every single time. In that regard, you're not special. This really isn't about you. It's about the rest of us and our automatic reaction any time somebody throws something up onto the stage, or has it thrown here. See something? Time to talk.

Yuck, Miley looks gross with that hair. Travolta sure got fat. This book was the worst thing ever written. Christian Slater's whole gimmick is a ripoff. Oprah is overrated. [Elected official] is a moron. Rachel Ray should be stoned to death and her smile sucks. Rebecca Black is the stupidest thing that has ever happened. Your favorite band sucks. [Company] are retards. The reporter that wrote this article is a biased asshole idiot. Venom!

I've thought about this a lot over the years, and how it has been unleashed and taken to new heights by the ubiquity, instantaneousness, and anonymity of the internet. I've come to realize that hating is kind of a sport, a participatory group sport. And the target in any given case matters as little as which particular baseball or football or tennis ball happens to be being used in any given game. They're interchangeable - it's the game that matters. Lots of times, perfectly innocuous people/things get piled onto out of nowhere. Suddenly some unsuspecting person's life is ruined in a flash because somebody thought it would make them look cool be cruel and pillory some aspect of their life and everybody else wanted to be cool by joining that pile-on. It was never about the thing/person. It could have been anything else, but this person/thing happened to show up and the crowd was ready to pounce, as it is always ready to pounce. Each member of the crowd wants to impress the others with their brand of disdain or scorn, and the next person has to take it up a notch from there to get the eyes on them. It's about them - the target is just a convenient springboard.

As I mentioned, I have always been very critical. This was pointed out to me at a young age and that stung so badly. But they were right. It stung precisely because they were right. And it has continued. I fight against it and try to get better or at least keep my mouth shut - seriously, sometimes before a routine social function, I'll tell myself, "don't criticize anything, don't complain, just shut up" - but it's still in me. It's coded into my bones, or else it's just a component of some personality problem I haven't been able to solve yet. My problem. A neurosis you might even say. Yet think of all the people whose feelings I've hurt over the years with my criticism. There they are, doing fine in most cases, and then I show up and start taking them down a peg, criticizing their efforts, their work, something about them personally, whatever. Think of how they nursed that hurt from then on when really, likely the only reason I jabbed them is because that's what I do. If they had known that, they could have just written me off and recognized that as my problem, not theirs.

Another thing I think about is restaurant reviews. With Yelp and Urbanspoon, suddenly we're all restaurant critics. Sure, we expect quality for our money, but how many of us could do what they do, running the business of the restaurant AND cooking great food? Most of us couldn't come close to what they do and have no idea what even goes into it yet we feel fine raking them over the coals. How many of your critics could do what you do? How many could even come close? A tiny percentage. Even many professional art critics aren't themselves artists yet snidely dismiss some creative person's work that they could never come close to approximating. When you read formal criticism of various kinds, so often it becomes so transparent that it is about the critic, not the object. They want us to know how much they know and how learned and cultured and above-it-all they are. But they're not. Their shit stinks like anyone's.

Another thing I think about is bad drivers. My dad will curse and gripe about anybody out there on the road who makes some little mistake. He'll get up on their tail or give them the horn or get beside them and glare, all the while letting loose his criticisms of their intelligence and skills, regardless of knowing zero about them. Ye olde fundamental attribution error. Meanwhile when he's the one who makes the mistake it's just a sheepish, "Oops, sorry!" My mom on the other hand just lets it slide. She knows that everybody makes mistakes and you can't fix them all, or even a small percentage of them, with your nastiness or your crabby griping.

The two of them together have shaped how I behave and feel in traffic now. Despite being a good driver, I know I make mistakes sometimes and hope people will let them slide. And when somebody else makes mistakes, I think of my mom. I pretend the person in that other car is my mom. Here's where this point becomes relevant to you. Because I know her and love her and know her full context, I would never call her stupid or shout at her or even criticize her. And I think of when my mom makes a mistake while driving out there, I don't want people being mean to her because YOU SHUT UP! THAT'S MY MOM! SHE'S A SAINT! YOU DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT HER! This is all just to say that these people criticizing you, if they only knew you and knew your context and appreciated the whole of you, would not be saying ugly things about your work. It might not be their favorite, but they wouldn't pick at it or say nasty things. They would congratulate you and encourage you and view the thing in a larger context.

So I would advise you to consider that there is typically so much more behind somebody's critique than your work and your worth. So much of what is going on resides inside the egos of your critics and in the general tendency of the crowd to judge and take potshots, particularly on things they could not do well themselves, and at people whose context they don't have any inkling of. It's part of the fabric of human interaction and it would be that way whether you or your work existed or not. It's not about you. So try to take some of that focus off yourself and recognize it as the expected static and chatter that will always be there. Try to remove yourself as the focus of that wider phenomenon that realistically you aren't the focus of.

On behalf of all the critics out there, whether they like me speaking for them or not, we're sorry!
posted by Askr at 3:27 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

I work in a medium where there is a lot of public exposure, and response, to my work. My rational answer is to say, you know in your gut when a criticism is on the mark and when it's way off base.

Everything is imperfect. When someone points out an imperfection in my work, I try to take it to heart. Maybe they highlighted something I already knew didn't quite work. Maybe they provide a new interpretation I hadn't seen but is worth considering. Occasionally, this happens and it is worth viewing as a sort of gift to help make your work better rather than something to be reflexively rejected.

That said, it is far easier to tear down than to create. Which means that feedback about anything tends to attract people who like tearing stuff down. If a critic says something I think is just dumb, or ignorant, or shows they have no idea what they are talking about, then I just dismiss it. "This is not for you" I think to myself and try to move on.

You'd have to be a sociopath to not feel anything when someone spits at your work, so I think it's fine it stomp around a bit and play a loud angry song...and then move on. Remember that the people paying you for your work must think pretty highly of it or it wouldn't be out there for the public to see in the first place. Their opinion should rank a lot higher than that of Angry Stranger.
posted by thebordella at 4:21 PM on July 17, 2013

Not to oversimplify it too much, but part of what I've had to learn is that if you are criticized, it means that you were given the opportunity for that criticism. It means you are playing the game, and it's a game where it is impossible to please everyone. I mean, think about it. Billions of people who don't have the same perspective, who may (for all you know) be complaining for no other reason than to hear themselves talk.

I don't make art, but I make other things that take a lot of my blood, sweat, and tears. In addition to the above, I've also learned to see criticism as part of what makes me and my entire discipline better. If all I received were praises, I'd really wonder, at the end of the day, whether they were all legitimate, or if the discipline had gone soft.

I've learned to find a group of people who I know I can trust to give me their honest and informed opinion, because it means something good if they criticize it (i.e., I have room towards improvement that is clear and actually helps me), and it means something really good if they praise it. That praise was earned, and I grew through the sometimes difficult effort to get there. I think praise means something more by virtue of it coexisting with opportunities for criticism.

So, I would say see criticism as being a necessary part of the game, part of what makes us better at our craft, and partly the thing that allows the praise, when it comes, to taste that much sweeter. In other words, criticism can be an ally if you can learn to not internalize it as necessarily negative.

If you can learn to hear criticism and continue to move forward, it truly is a valuable life skill. There is noone who has never be critisized on the way up who has been a success, so perhaps it would be good to know that you are in good company, as well, and receiving it and living amongst those who constantly give it is a necessary part of the human condition.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:22 PM on July 17, 2013

You have to be confident in your own work.

I think the hard part really is separating the worthless criticism from the meaningful criticism-my advice is, if it's meanspirited, flush it. If the critic is engaging the work thoughtfully, there may be tidbits in there helpful to you for next time.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:27 PM on July 17, 2013

One other thing. When you are barking with the big dogs, the magnifying glasses are out. Somehow I think all of us feel it's easier to criticise people who are at the top of their game, so to speak-unconsciously we feel they are so powerful and so good at what they do, we need to find the small flaw and magnify it. If you are at that level, you are very very very good at what you do to start with.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:29 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Fine art photographer here. I'm pleased when people love or hate my work.

The goal of art is to elicit a response. If someone looks at it and doesn't care, that's when I feel bad; I haven't connected with them in some way. But then again, not everyone cares about the type of art that I make, either, so I simply won't connect with everyone. So I don't let it tear me up.

Another thought: when someone loves you work, often they won't (or can't) articulate why. They just say "oh I love it!" But when someone doesn't like it, usually they do have something to say about it. And that can lead to a fun conversation. Or if it's a written review, you can get into someone's head and see how they perceive the world.

Also, there are assholes who like to piss in people's cheerios. I get a lot of shittastic comments from dudes with expensive cameras and no eye of the "my kid could paint that" sort of style. Haters gonna hate. Eh.

Ultimately, if you're happy with the work, if you did the best you could at the time, then there's no cause for you to regret or second-guess what you did based on anyone else's commentary. You just use all of the comments to inform you about how others perceive your work. Because that's art, right? It's perception.

And now, you move on to the next project.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:49 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm really thin-skinned, too. I think the thing to remember is that the criticism is aimed at the piece, not at you. You cannot possibly produce perfect, flawless work, so you should expect that even a good piece will receive some criticism. Thin-skinned people like us are just perfectionists who are too attached to our work.
posted by deathpanels at 5:56 PM on July 17, 2013

“You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world,
 and there’s still going to be someone who hates peaches.”

That quote is undeniably true. And congratulations on your success.
posted by ttyn at 6:02 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Art is a highly subjective experience. One of the beauties of art is that it draws upon our knowledge of the world, our preconceptions and assumptions and experiences when we are digesting any piece of art.
Each viewer creates a unique relationship with a given piece of art, based on the furnishings in their head at the time. Often we will hate a piece at one point in our lives and love it at another, when our experiences have changed us and therefore our dialogue with a piece of art.The color blue may be positive to some, negative to others; apples speak of home and pie to one, Sleeping Beauty to another, the Garden of Eden to a third.

Given that the experience of art is therefore a unique and highly personal experience for each and every viewer, creating something that speaks only positively to everyone in the world is impossible. Also, negativity is a form of emotional connection too, and a negative relationship with a piece of art can also represent a valuable experience.

You can't make everyone happy, especially not with art. People who make pretty pictures to pander to viewers are hacks; people who make art to express what is in themselves, who don't try to people-please, who seek to create half of an unknown conversation with each and every viewer - those are artists.

Be happy if some people hate your work. It means you're doing something right.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 6:16 PM on July 17, 2013

What experienced artists/writers learn: once it goes public, it's history. Your energy, attention, and emotional investment belong to the process, not the product. That's theirs, so observe quizzically from the psychic distance that comes with having moved on to your next big thing, which for artists, unlike critics, is where the real fun/satisfaction resides.
posted by 5Q7 at 9:41 PM on July 17, 2013

Does it help to think of the function of your art to provoke response and thought? In other words, the nature and content of how people respond isn't as important as the fact that they have been provoked or touched in some way by it. Getting thicker skin is hard, but maybe thinking this way about it would dis-empower the responders for you.
posted by dgran at 11:11 AM on July 18, 2013

I don't personally think that the "haters gonna hate," "don't listen to them" mentality is really the healthiest approach. As everyone has pointed out, art is subjective. This does not mean that all art is equally good, or valid. As a thin-skinned person, I understand that it's hard to hear criticism, but if you are really sure that the work you do is right for you, it can be really helpful to hear others' perspectives, even if they're negative.
posted by nosila at 11:32 AM on July 18, 2013

Take Kanye West's attitude. You are awesome. You created something awesome, and you know it, and everybody who thinks it sucks doesn't matter.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:32 PM on July 18, 2013

Feynman: Why do you care what other people think?
posted by tiburon at 5:06 PM on July 20, 2013

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