Wednesday, October 27, 2010

More on being brave and facing giants...

Collage by Lani with Texture Layers by FlyPaper Textures and Kim Klassen.

(I received this email about the previous post and I'm sorry about the length, but if you are interested in bravery and overcoming obstacles then this might be a post for you.)

Dear Lani,
How did your Craft Show go?  The reason I ask is because I really find the blog entries about Brave Art very helpful but I have a problem.  Maybe you came across something similar in your Craft Show?  I started a woman's creativity group recently and we did a session on dolls which went well. So I thought the next step should be a book, so I suggested this to the group that we each write a 1-2 page story about confronting a fear. Two women were enthusiastic but one woman felt this would be too self-revealing for her and she wasn't sure. The others were kind of neutral. I am struggling with this. How do you handle people's negative responses to your ideas? I so want to do this but I really don't like the negative feedback.  I tend to take it personally and feel rejected.  I so want to do this healing group kind of thing and I also feel quite thin-skinned.  Am I the right person for this group?

When you wrote about your feelings around putting your art in the craft show, I could really relate and that's why I am sharing my frustration of the moment with you.   I guess my question to you is how do you handle the reactions of people who, say, don't buy your art, or who are critical about what you are doing? Maybe you don't ever get that and if so, I am just going to go feel sorry for myself.

Thanks for listening!

Feeling Sorry in Scotts Bluff
And here's my answer:

Dear Feeling Sorry,

I'll answer the easy question first.  No need to go feel sorry for yourself, lol!  One of the best things I ever heard about getting negative feedback (and if you can take this to heart, it is a huge relief, seriously!!!) was from Marney Makridakis of Artella http://www.artellawordsandart.com/aboutartella.html who said if you AREN'T getting any negative feedback for your work, then your audience is too narrow.  Pretty cool, eh?  And of course she's right.  If you want to reach a wide base of people then you really need to be willing to hear all sorts of reactions.  You really don't need to worry about pleasing everyone, mostly because it's impossible!

Think about your own tastes, aren't they always changing, growing?  Imagine if you were someone else trying to please your personal tastes all the time, it would be impossible.  That's the main idea here.  And really the only task you really need to concern yourself with is the ongoing development of you, or following your bliss as Joseph Campbell would say.  When you do that, you will be surprised how many others will enjoy what you are doing.

A woman's creativity group sounds like an excellent way to  explore inner development, so I say go for it.  Offer the group the option of writing about a fictional character.  The woman who is concerned about self-revelation and the women who were neutral might enjoy working and thinking about bravery in a fictional character. 

The more complex answer is how the craft show went.  First of all it was a "Crafters' Market" which means something quite specific in this area, which I didn't really understand about.  I had a vague idea that this would be an arts and crafts show and was quite surprised to see so many cupcakes, Nanaimo Bars, flower arrangements, and plywood cut outs of Santa.  And then the folks coming through seemed to know this because they were mostly looking for cupcakes and plywood Santas.  This may sound unkind but I honestly don't mean it to be.  Most people who walked past stopped when they saw the Shipwreck Doll Babies, and then talked to me about the dolls, wanting to know how they were made and could they touch them, exclaiming over them...  They would then buy a pair of earrings which is fine, but I did get the feeling I was in the wrong place if I wanted folks to buy a doll, lol.

What I learned from all this is that it's important to get a broad audience if you want to actually have your work seen and enjoyed.   Really put your stuff out there as much as possible.  For example, I looked into the Halifax Crafters' Market and it looks like a better fit, more of the young "indie" DIY arts and crafts folks and it's juried so they can tell me if it's for the plywood Santa crowd or not.  So I'll be brave and talk to them.

I'll also take some of my wares to the American Art Therapy Conference next week in Sacramento.  We'll see what art therapists think of my oh-so-resilient shipwrecked dolls, lol.

Faithfully yours,
Lani
For more on this topic, check the 14 Secrets blog where we are working on Summer Pierre's Kick Ass journaling.  If you want to face giants, you need to be in a kick ass kind of mood, lol!

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