When you publicly share any kind of artwork you are bound to get quite a bit of feedback from people…both wanted and unwanted. Every once in a while, through all the crazy input that people will give, you will find some opinion of your work that is like a shiny beacon in the night. It is the input that you get from your audience that actually validates your existence as an artist. I have had quite a few public engagements. I have watched people look on…not really understanding my message. I have also gotten to be a witness when people’s faces light up when looking at my artwork. Though it is an indescribable thing to see, we will always remember the things that people say to us…first.
I may not be able to visualize the faces of each individual that has ever laid eyes on my artwork, but I can describe the feeling I had while watching. The funny thing about this type of interaction is that we don’t even REALLY know what someone thought about our artwork until they take the time to tell us. The verbal feedback is the real interaction that we need. So, in saying all of this I can mention that I have had the opportunity to really dig in and talk to some of my audience. I got to really talk about the art in depth. I got to see what it was that drew their attention, and I got to answer questions about my art for them. I think that in many ways this really heightened their experience with my art. So, what was the best feedback that I have ever gotten on my artwork?
I would have to say hands down that the best thing I have ever heard about my artwork was that my collection was “eclectic”. At first I wasn’t super sure that it WAS a good thing. You say “Oh wow! Does this mean that I don’t have a style?” The man who told me this must have noticed my confusion on my face and he added a bit to it. He told me that he was refreshed, that the art that I was putting out was “free”. Not that it didn’t cost anything, but that I had created…outside of boundaries placed on many of us involved in art. He said it was really something to be able to see the journey between the artwork shown in this one particular show, and how it all fit together.
I took all of this in for quite a while. I actually hadn’t had the opportunity to hear too much about my work at any given time. That particular show housed a lot of my pieces that are closest to my heart. Those pieces meant something really special to me so I really needed to be able to get that kind of input from the audience. Even now looking back at this particular statement I realize that it was kind of absurd, his input was unconventional, but my work touched him enough to where he felt that he needed to tell me it…personally. That kind of feedback is what every artist should dream of!
I actually base all new art comments on this particular interaction. I realize that people can just say, “I really like this one,” or “this is my favorite;” but that doesn’t really tell me much as an artist. These people are looking, sure. They are trying, sure. Are they actually feeling anything when they are looking at my work? That is the part that I am not sure of. I guess as an artist it is easy for us to assume that people aren’t really being genuine with us when we ask for an opinion. I think that we assume that we aren’t “so good” and that people are just being nice. We fail, at that time, to realize that people aren’t generally THAT nice. It is usually pretty obvious when someone doesn’t like something that we do, we just believe that everyone sees all of our imperfections. We thing that everyone recognizes the things that we view as mistakes.
The important take-away from all of this is that we have to allow for audiences that don’t really know what to tell us. They sometimes actually mean that they “love this one” and that one is their “favorite”. They probably told you the truth about it. They are just telling you their personal observations as much as they understand it. Not everyone is the best active observer in art…and that’s okay. They will get there the best that they can. It will make the true “gems” of the art feedback world that much sweeter and obvious to you though, because the feedback will be so absurd…so unrehearsed that you just have to stop and process that moment. These are the types of things that artists hope for…these keep us going. I refer back to this man and his odd praises of my work from time to time. Usually when I enter my work into a new exhibition or start a new project. I think that it keeps me grounded…and it shows me a clear path of where I came from as an artist versus where I am headed. It shows me how much I’ve changed and grown, and from there I can only get better.
What is the best feedback you’ve ever gotten about your artwork?
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