The Funny Thing About Favorites

May 15, 2024

 The funny thing (well one of them anyway) about any creative endeavor, is that the artist’s favorite is frequently (well maybe more likely never) the favorite of the viewer.

It’s a simple thing. As an artist you sketch something that caught your eye, or if it’s from  your imagination, which you created whole.

And it appealed to you as subject because of your own instincts, upbringing, exposure to art, art practices, taste, sense of humor, sense of mission, comprehension of the world, psychology, skill level, …

And when you’ve finished sketching something it says something to you. Or it reminds you of something when you look at it—like how fun it is to draw stubble on today’s sketch. Or it makes a tone ring very clearly in the center of your being because you know that everything about that which you just drew is right and correct.

Don’t expect anyone else to feel the same. They may like your work for a thousand reasons, but they can’t experience your work in the same way you experience it because they aren’t wielding the tools.

This is no reason to believe you can’t get your audience to resonate with your art, or to see something meaningful in it. But if you recognize the difference between the act of creation and act of viewing you’ll stop having unrealistic and even disappointing expectations.

If you understand the difference between the act of creation and the act of viewing you can free yourself from useless comparisons of your work with the work of another. You can free yourself to really work.

You will realize you need to move your focus to the field of communication where whatever you make is ugly, beautiful, haphazard, contained, clear, ambiguous, loaded, simple, serious, or funny because that’s what you’re pushing for.

And if you’re pushing for any of those things (and countless more), fewer people may like your work, but more people may think about your work.

Ultimately, though, you’ll be free to create.

  1. Reply

    Roz, Can’t thank you enough for your comments in this post today. Really resonated as I create commissioned works these days, barely time for ‘my own’ work, so it (‘my’ work) gets worked into the process of creating for another viewer. Tricky, but beginning to navigate that to my satisfaction.
    Cheers, hope you are well!

    1. Reply

      Lorell, I’m grateful every day that I had decades of private visual journaling before I started working commercially. Then I had decades of commercial work before the internet brought an onslaught of images to distract or inspire depending on one’s core.

      That multiple decades-long grace period, as it were, gave me a great mental balance about my work, my goals, and in many ways helped me better understand what clients wanted.

      I see so many of my students floundering because they are chasing “likes” which are meaningless and tying themselves in knots. I feel compelled to discuss it every so often, especially now that I’m letting go of teaching.

      I’m so glad that you are mindfully negotiating your path through this issue. Best of luck.

    • Tina Koyama
    • May 16, 2024

    Right on, Roz, as always! I know that when I use color in a sketch, I get more “likes” on social media than when I post a monochrome sketch, even though I know the monochrome one is better in many ways. I can see how this would push people to use more color, even if it’s not what they happen to want to do. I’ve seen it happen. Although I’m amused when I notice the “likes” I get, I really don’t care, and I try not to let it affect what I do. (It drives me nuts when artists ask their social media followers, “Do you think I should add color? Or leave it b & w?” and of course everyone says to add color! I feel like shouting, Who cares what your followers want? Do what YOU want!)

    1. Reply

      Color does have a way of pulling people in. I love working with ink wash monochromatically. I do find it interesting to see what gets views, but I have zero interest in letting it influence what I draw or post.Thanks for stopping by Tina, keep doing what you love!

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