Why I thank those who believe in my work (and those who don’t)

When you’re an artist, there are two types of people around you: those who encourage you and those who directly or indirectly put obstacles in your life. You might even be surprised at the people in each category. In this article, I’m going to tell you about my experience and how every opinions motivate me.

I’ve said it before : I don’t have a lot of self-confidence. I very easily doubt my work and myself. And it’s hard not to be affected by other people’s opinions.

When I became an artist, I realized that some people (who don’t really have any connection with the artistic world) thought that being an artist meant being lazy, getting up at noon, doing nothing all day, producing from time to time and being lucky when you get an exhibition. It was very hurtful to see that. Because these people don’t imagine the work we do. In fact, I get up early, I have a well-organized schedule between submissions, personal production, commission works, job search, appointments, publications on the internet, articles… As I write these words, I realize that I shouldn’t even have to justify myself. Instead, these people should try to live an artist life for a while and see how difficult it is to get an exhibition, earn money, produce etc…especially when you don’t know if it will work. It’s a completely unfair and unjustified disdain for artists.
I‘m not talking about the people who don’t appreciate my work: it’s totally understandable that not everyone likes it. One can never pleased everyone and that’s what every artist should tell himself.
I also think that you have to know the balance : you might think that some people will tell you negative things about your work just to hurt you but you will end up realizing that they were right and that it allowed you to move forward. That’s why the only negative criticisms I refuse are those that are not constructed, that are there just to hurt without being argued.

At the same time, there are the people who encourage you : the ones who appreciate your images on social networks, the ones who make your day by sending you a message to congratulate you on your new series, the ones who select you for exhibitions/projections/residencies because they believe in you, the ones who give you the opportunity to do a job you’ve wanted to do for a very long time, the ones who wants pictures from you, the ones who come to congratulate you during an opening, the ones who talk about you on the internet…It’s all these people who put a smile on my face and sometimes, when I’m feeling blue, I think about that. It’s an engine that keeps me going. When I think about that, I know I’m where I need to be.
For example, a few years ago, I googled myself (who hasn’t? :) ) and I found out that someone had published an article about my work on his blog and it felt so good…He finished his article by writing that I was “probably going to be a great artist in the future” and you can’t imagine how happy those words made me.

Pauline Le Pichon, “Nuits Blanches” series in the “Artist Statement #5” exhibition, CICA Museum. Photography : CICA Museum

Those opinions on my my work, whether they are positive or negative, are always a challenge for me. On the one hand, it’s a challenge to meet the expectations of the people who encourage me, to live up to what they have offered me. And on the other hand, there is the desire to prove to those who don’t believe in me, that I can make it without them. A lot of people, I think, would tell me not to worry about those people with negative thoughts. But I’m human and also very sensitive, so I take all this very strongly. It’s unfortunately easier when you work alone, because even though my work should please me first, it also depends on how others look at it.
I must admit that it was very difficult in the early years because I’m more likely to worry about the negative than the positive things that happen in my life. The bad things could shake me up for weeks, easily taking over the good ones. And gradually, when the good started to happen, I became a little more confident and understood that I could take some pride in getting by without these people and their support.

Either way, those opinions have power. I think we have to be concerned about them and accept them even when they are negative and unfounded because they always bring something to our work. They push us forward and as an artist who also has artists friends, I see how important our opinions, our appreciations are. I have my own way of looking at my work, I see flaws and qualities in it, but I also admit that other people’s viewpoints also play an important role : it’s like a mixture. To finish this article, I would say this: if you are an artist, accept the way people look at your work and how you live and work. It could feed you. If you know artists, don’t hesitate to tell them what you think, the strong points, the weak points…and share their creations. Always remember that the world depends on artists, and artists depend on the world.

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French visual artist

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Pauline Le Pichon

Pauline Le Pichon

French visual artist

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