The Fifth Commandment - Thou Shalt Not Speak Ill of Thy Fellow Artists

As the old adage goes “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all..”

You are not going to get along with everyone you meet in life and the art world is no exception..
It’s a sad but true fact that sometimes in our journey, we have to deal with toxic people, narcissists, manipulators, psychic vampires and those whose ambition overshadows their compassion.
I have found the best way to deal with these troubled and troubling individuals is to be polite, direct and non-combative, finish your dealings with them as promptly as possible and then be done with them. Do not argue with them or engage in back and forth sniping in email exchanges. That only seems to fuel the fires of negativity and rage.

In fact, in most cases, it is advantageous to let the people you have locked horns with think that they have "won" a battle which you have no intention of fighting. Then you can cross them off your list and never deal with them again (or, in the situations where you absolutely HAVE to, at least you know that you hold the high ground and they know that they can not get a rise out of you). Toxic people seem to feed off of negative energy - it is always best to disengage from them whenever and wherever possible. and never display anger or frustration towards them.

After your interaction with them has ended, do not speak ill of them or try to warn others about them. Because:
1) that kind of talk has a way of not only going around, but also being added to and distorted as it travels like a bad game of "Telephone". It seems to always get back to the toxic person and guess what? You are going to have to deal with them all over again - and now their anger and rage will be at play. The only thing worse than dealing with a narcissist is dealing with a wounded narcissist.

2) A LOT of people are fooled by toxic people - because most manipulators and narcissists are very adept at appearing "nice" and they often play “the victim done wrong” as well, so they are able to fool a lot of people into thinking they are "good" people. As a result, YOU may look like the bad person for trying to warn others of a seemingly "nice" person.

Of course you can warn close friends (who you can trust not to blab or gossip) and family about them, but everyone else unfortunately will have to find out for themselves.
And ultimately, they all will..

And it should be added - sometimes the person you think is toxic or a narcissist, may not actually be that way at all: it is just that you two did not get along or see eye-to-eye for whatever reason. Again - it is best to just let them go and wish them well. Not everyone who dislikes you will be easily fit into a psychological pathology - even though that would make things easier for you to deal with .. But life is seldom so cut and dry, and I always find that the best way to learn from any negative encounter is to focus on my part in it- what I did wrong and what I could have done alternatively - that is the kind of thought process that really helps us grow and move on without resentments..

And then there is a HUGE exception to this commandment of course: if a gallery has ripped you off ( by not paying you, pirating your work or something equally heinous) it is certainly acceptable to let other artists know that (in fact some might say you have a duty to warn them!) and even in as public a way as you deem fit.
This kind of underhanded and dishonest dealing is why sites like Brainard Carey’s excellent resource “How’s My Dealing” exist..

But in most cases, personal animosities or disagreements with others as we move along the sphere of the art world (or any) are best kept to ourselves and filed in the “lessons learned” folder.

The Rumor by Thomas Dodd

The Rumor by Thomas Dodd