So lately (for heaven knows why) I’ve been boldly going (where no man has gone before) a whole lot. And there’s this scene in that episode full of those adorable furries where the chief engineer says ‘We’re big enough to take a few insults.’ Aren’t we?
Especially when none was intended. ^^
I have spoken here before about how I tend to be a little, extra, prickly at times when people say certain things~ it’s a failing I have that I’m not proud of. (And believe me, if I could be even half Vulcan about this, I would.)
But I’m not, and one thing I’ve learned to do, recently, sort of, is to identify the things that set you off, so that you can sort of, keep yourself in check when they come up. (Actually, I find myself just flying instead of fighting, if you know what I mean.) Or, so that you can *brace for impact*, so it doesn’t hit you as much, and you can walk away afterwards without much incident.
Anyhow, that’s my excuse for this post ^_^ If you’re a fellow artist, let me know whether the innocent (#benefitofthedoubt) utterances listed here, in no particular order, aren’t exactly the sort of sayings that make your day, as a maker, either.
1. ‘That’s interesting.’
Okay, this one kind of depends~ sometimes, the person saying it really means it, like they genuinely find your work absorbing or (‘to coin a phrase’) fascinating ^o^ I think you’ll be able to tell depending on the context.
Many times, however, I find that if you were wearing subtitles glasses, you’d probably find something along the lines of ‘Wow, that’s fugs’ if someone said it of your work.
I guess there’s no nice way of saying it if you really aren’t into the work, and I suppose one must say something if one is asked point blank. For myself, I try to find something, anything I like about it, mindful of how I might feel if it was my blood, toil, tears and sweat on the chopping block.
Of course, ‘you are not your work’ and all that. And maybe, the person really can’t think of anything else (that wasn’t hurtful) to say. So, just say ‘thank you’, I guess. (‘Thank you, I guess’? XD)
2. ‘Why don’t you do it like this…’
Okay, I get how genuinely well-meaning people offer advice to be helpful. I, appreciate this. Really, I do.
There’s a variation of this where people might say something like, ‘Oh so and so artist, does it this way…’ to effect of ‘so why don’t you do it that way’ (I’d like to think it doesn’t mean to come across as ‘and it’s better than the way you do it’.)
For me, it’s just, I mean, not that I’m not open to bettering myself or finding other ways to improve my technique or my work. In fact, that kind of support is invaluable to me and I never forget the people who’ve given it. It’s just, ‘that’s their work, and this is my work’. And, I’ve put a lot of work into the way I, work.
Like you wouldn’t tell Raul Sunico, for instance, to play like Cecil Licad, or Pavarotti to sing like Domingo (or Carreras). You get the idea.
3. ‘That would look nice on…’
This one also depends ~ on whether the artist really meant for the work to be on something, say, a t-shirt, a notebook, a mug or what have you.
Like I’m not, like, I mean, I’ve heard there are some artists who would never think of putting their work on things, while others actively do. I guess, it’s just a good idea to be a little more sure of whether the artist is the latter or the former before you say anything to this effect.
I personally have nothing substantial against this, really ~ somebody once told me my Singing would look good on a piece of fabric; somebody else told me Rhapsody would look good on washi tape ^^; If they were meant to be compliments, then, hey, I’ll take ‘em, right? ^^;
Meanwhile, I’ve got a skirt with old man Vince’s night cafe on it ^o^;
4. ‘When are you going to start…’
Okay, this one needs a little context. In half a nutshell, someone I knew from way back when had asked me when I was going to get started on my art career ~ this after I had mounted my 10th solo.
Now I hope you don’t, get me wrong ~ it’s good to encourage artists. Believe me, there are times when I, for one, really, really need it.
I guess, again, about giving informed encouragement (data-driven encouragement? XD). (Sorry, the line of work I’m in ^o^; )
I mean, it’s easy for encouragement to just roll off the tongue ~ especially for genuinely well-meaning humans. And that, again, is a good thing.
I guess what I’m trying to say is it might be good to like, know where the person’s at, really, before just saying stuff ~ this applies to people in general, I should think, and not just artists.
Like when Dantes told Faria, ‘just make another tunnel’, Faria was all, you have no idea how long I was digging through solid effing rock with these makeshift bitsa metal before I made it to your cell. So don’t just smile and say ‘just make another tunnel’, even if you meant it as ‘don’t give up’.
5. ‘Why are you so stressed?’
This pertains to the idea that art is something you do leisurely on a lovely, sunny afternoon in the woods surrounded by squirrels and butterflies whilst enjoying a spot of tea. (Cue ‘I wonder’ XD)
Not saying it isn’t; am saying that it takes a wee bit more when things get serious, is all ^o^; Ordinarily, this wouldn’t rankle, but it might ruffle a few feathers if the artist being asked happens to be in the thick of things, you know what I mean?
My grandmother (God rest her) used to ask me this, like, say it was May and the show was in September. She’d be all ‘It’s only May, why you so stressed?’ Well, Lols, maybe I only had X paintings done and I needed X done by September and I’ve planned out my time carefully and I’m way behind schedule cos I’m juggling the day job too and I’m exhausted.
(I was so mean to her, my Lola, whenever I was in the painting factory. Well, they say the dead know everything, and I hope she understands it now.)
6. ‘Can you do it for free?’
This rankles all the time, I should think. Particularly if it’s followed up with something like ‘you like doing it, anyway’ ~ like for fun or as a hobby? Even if it was a hobby, though ~ still deserves just compensation, wouldn’t you say?
Recently, Bored Panda asked me a few questions about entertaining requests from some of our, more entitled brethren. Now I did say maybe feeling sorry for them would be a more positive way to go. But now I also say, let’s feel sorrier for the artists whose bread you’re taking out of their mouths (or whose children you’re starving) every time you ask for a freebie.
7. ‘Can you do it real quick?’
Closely related to ‘No. 5 thing you probably shouldn’t say’ because of the assumption that art probably doesn’t take a whole lot of time or effort to do (which gives rise to ‘thing you probably shouldn’t say’ No. 6).
Even if it’s something non-rep, let’s say, a single brushstroke painting, I still feel very strongly that it’s a bit, ungracious, to tell an artist, who puts so much care and thought, and feeling, and even planning and preparation into what they do, ‘We’ll be giving you one week to come up with your work.’
Just, wow XD.
8. ‘Did you sell anything?’
I think this is a lot like asking somebody how much they get paid at their job. I’m not sure if this is a cultural thing; it’s a bit awkward where I’m from to ask about stuff like this. This is usually asked after an exhibit, and whether or not you did, for me, it’s always an embarrassing question, at the least.
I mean, I get it when, say a gallery asks you this (although it doesn’t make it any less unpleasant, for me).
I mean, I know, I know, and, I know, but, it’s not like artists do it solely for the moolers, even if there are those of us who do do it solely for a living. That’s the bit that gets me, is all. Impractical and naive, perhaps, but there you go.
9. ‘You’re not making money, anyway.’
Again, an offshoot of Thing No. 8 ~ artists who aren’t ‘successful’ (in the conventional sense, perhaps) may be asked why they persist in the creation of art when they aren’t, ‘successful’.
I’ve been told this myself several times throughout my practice, even before I started practising in earnest. In a way, looking back, I’m grateful to be asked this because it reminds me or makes me think about why I’m doing this in the first place. And it’s a good thing to remember.
Still, though ~ it’s not exactly what you want to hear when, again, you’re in the thick of things and having to keep your spirits up.
10. ‘Get a real job.’
I’d like to end with something someone called Cookie told me recently:
‘Well Sen, people try to be nice. They don't understand how frustrating it is for you but it's a courtesy formula. I'm sorry things didn't work, I wanted to cheer you up I just didn't know how.’
Except for maybe the super egregious ones (like Thing No. 6), I like to think that it’s like what Cookie says ~ people are just trying to be nice.
If a Vulcan says something that offends a human, you can’t expect the human to have known because they’re not Vulcans, right? Like maybe they didn’t say anything on purpose to piss you off. And maybe you’re just extra prickly ^_^; I know I am, huhu.
In any case, should anything be on (or off) this list? Has anyone said anything to you or have you perhaps said anything to an artist you know and you don’t know why they reacted the way they did? If you feel like sharing, leave a comment below or let me know.