Permission? No No, They Can’t Take That Away From Me

The other day, I was reprimanded by an artist, because apparently someone who creates “computer scribbles” isn’t supposed to “frame them as if it’s art”.

And, I’m also not supposed to “suddenly call myself an artist”.

Which I find hilarious, because I’ve been an artist all my life. And never mind that I wrote and directed a kid’s musical when I was 18 (yes, that actually happened).

Now I don’t mind the opinion. It’s not about me, but about the person who said it.

To quote Owen Garrett, when I mentioned that some artists had criticised his work:

“Other artists don’t get to vote”.

Quite right. The only votes that interest me are those that come from my audience, and my buyers.

And this person, who had this opinion about me?

I think it’s newbie-envy.

Here comes some total unknown dude, with absolutely no training or education, who creates weird and (depending on your politics) unsightly drawings, and at his first ever show (6 months after even starting to draw) sells 3 pieces.

And I know that must sting, if you studied and have the degrees, and have worked hard to build a career

But it’s not my fault that people like my work. I just create, for my own fun and in order to communicate something. And apparently, my creations work for (some) people.

The lesson in this?

You don’t need permission from anyone, except yourself. And so long as your line of work isn’t regulated, there’s nobody in the world who can revoke your permission, no matter how authoritative, skilled, or experienced they might be.

If you feel called or inspired to make or do something, then do it (so long as it’s ethical, legal, and not hurtful to others or the environment).

And don’t ever let yourself be stopped by naysayers or critics.

In fact, if you have critics, you’re doing something right.

Because while one person dislikes what you do and disengages, there’s someone else who’s madly in love with what you do. Do the thing you do for the latter, and let the critics be. Their opinion is their problem, not yours.

Besides: having critics means that you stand for something, and in my world, that’s important and valuable.

And if ever you feel down because of criticism, remember this:

Criticism says more about the person who delivers it, than it does about you or your work.

And if you want help getting your work out there, let me know.



Also published on Medium.

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