The Tenth Commandment - Always Keep Going and Always Keep Growing

Perseverance is of course, a huge component of success in any field ( and paired with social intelligence it is a formidable force), but it is not enough to just mindlessly repeat our earlier successes or the methods that we used.
You always have to be learning, growing, expanding your knowledge and your craft.

There are the inevitable points where you will feel stuck, creatively blocked or just not good enough.

These are the moments you should use to try something new: like learning a new technique or method, or perhaps embarking upon a new series or maybe just working on promoting your existing work and spending a few months just tending to business and sales. then you can come back refreshed and ready to create anew..

The journey of the artist is a life-long one and should not be led by current trends or purely money-making pursuits. It should ultimately be your personal journey of fulfillment and self-discovery.
Now that may sound all new agey and “Spiritual” to the more pragmatic of you .. but it is true.

The ultimate aim (conscious or sub-conscious) of the artist is to chronicle one’s journey on earth (with your thoughts and emotions manifested in a tangible form) and then perhaps - you leave something beautiful or poignant behind that touches people’s lives who haven’t even been born yet..
In a way, it is a quest for immortality - for a deeper meaning and it serves a primal and deep-seated motivation that all humans have - to be able to say on their death bed “I was here, and I mattered”
The journey of the artist .. is the journey of the soul

Light the Way by Thomas Dodd

Light the Way by Thomas Dodd

The Seventh Commandment - Assume Nothing & Get Everything in Writing

Now some folks ( Including me) might say it is rather presumptuous to send a contract over to a gallery that just gave you a foot in the door (especially if you are just having one or 2 pieces in a group show - which is usually how a gallery will “try you out” to see how your art goes over with their collector base and also what you are like to deal with.. )
But at the very least you should have an email exchange with the curator that spells out what the terms of your exhibition, affiliation or representation are.

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Why Artists Should Listen to Criticism

There is a meme currently making the rounds in the online art world and especially in the growing “art coaching” scene..
It goes like this:

”A young artist exhibits his work for the first time and a well known art critic is in attendance.
The critic says to the young artist, "would you like my opinion on your work?"
”Yes, " says the artist.
”It's worthless," says the critic
The artist replies, "I know, but tell me anyway."

In my opinion this meme is actually giving very bad advice to young artists, inferring that they should just ignore ALL criticism, especially the criticism that comes from a respected art critic (not just a random stranger on the internet) while also postulating that a professional art critic would walk up to a young artist and just try to crush them with a two word assessment of their work. Perhaps that may happen in some extreme scenario, but I guarantee you that the majority of critics would be much more likely to simply ignore your work (if they found it “worthless” ) or maybe tell you what they thought you needed to work on to make it better (if they thought your work had promise).

We must be aware of the Dunning-Kruger effect from either extreme (ie - unjustifiably thinking your work is great or self-defeatingly thinking it is worthless).

Agreed, artists should follow their own paths/visions and not be slaves to trends and/or the comments of random strangers, but we should also listen to intelligent criticisms of our work and actually seek out critiques from industry insiders whose opinions we respect.
You may discard the advice which you think would take you down a different path from that which you are currently on (the one which your passions and intentions steer), but I guarantee you that there is something to be learned from every intelligent and thoughtful critique you will receive in the course of your artistic life.

I realize ultimately this is just a meme trying to bolster confidence in a world where people are often unsure of themselves and their work, but again - any art critic worth their salt would never say that kind of thing to a young artist..
An intelligent critique/criticism lists your strengths and weaknesses and gives you a blueprint for advancement - especially if you can detach your ego from it and actually use it to your advantage and growth process..

The path of the artist is often like a tight rope walk: there are a lot of outside influences and distractions trying to pull you off of that rope, and while there are indeed many success stories about people who proved the nay-sayers wrong, there are many, many more of people who learned from the criticisms and critiques they received along the way in their lengthy careers and grew as artists as a result..

My ultimate advice to artists is “Use everything” - even if it is just using criticisms for the fuel in your artistic fire..

photo by SNAP! Orlando

photo by SNAP! Orlando