The act of doing life.
I was watching Brene Brown’s “The Call to Courage” today. It kept showing up on my Netflix feed, and I kept avoiding it until I had an hour to myself, because my husband really isn’t into Ted-type talks.
Watching this show was perfect timing today. As a family, behind the scenes, we’re dealing with a cancer diagnosis of our 2-year-old, which has been incredibly hard and devastating. Being a creative, I put a lot of my work online – works in progress for some, but mostly finished work.
I remember earlier this year I put up an image on my Instagram with a caption “working with this image for a project for Poseidon’s Daughter, a cover image I was actively working on. It was just a stock photo with an animation I had applied to it.
Instead of just “hearting” the image, this guy, who had recently followed me and was liking my posts pretty aggressively with random comments, felt the need to voice his opinion of the stock image an animation.
An opinion I didn’t ask for.
“Well, as an art director with ___ years of experience and <insert other title-specific self-importance fluffing>, I would have <insert unsolicited advice on what he would have done had he actually done it opinion>.”
Dude. I didn’t ask your opinion. Nor did I want it. Nor do I care.
That’s the beauty of being a creative with a Brene Brown-positive attitude. I don’t give a fuck what he thinks, nor would I ever take advice from this person.
I create my own material. My own way. To be pleasing to me. Work that I enjoy making, my way, that sells, to people who love my work.
No one’s opinion or critique of my work matters to me. It does not define my work, what inspires me, and they aren’t in the trenches, being willing to put themselves out there like I have. Especially an “art director” who could be doing nothing creative other than finding creative ways to get people to donate money to the arts.
It’s one of those “How about you stick to your job (you know, the one where you work for “the man”), and you let me do mine the way I see fit, since I’m able to work for myself, rather successfully, I might add.” type of things.
These critics consume the cheap seats. There are a ton of people sitting in the cheap seats who don’t have the talent or courage to create, publish, and run an actual, very large, business. They make a livelihood and career out of being keyboard warriors with no guts.
I actually don’t give a fuck (pardon my French) what people think of my work. I give advice, show up, do the job, and move on. When people ask me to design something for them, something that will convert and work, and I deliver on that, more often than not, they love it. But they’ll suggest tweaks or deletions of things without understanding their purpose. They revert right back to what they were doing and never get anywhere with their site or business.
Sometimes, people love my work and would never change a thing. That’s cool. They’ve trusted me with my judgment and it has paid off.
When I’m designing a produce, with no specific person in place as a buyer, I’m not designing to please the masses. I’m not looking for affirmation. I’m not seeking fame or positive reviews. If they love it, great. They can buy it. If they don’t, they can move on. My design career is not influenced or in need of critics who are unable to design themselves.
“If you choose to live in the arena, you’re going to get your ass kicked.” – Brene Brown
I work and live in an arena where creatives are judged, evaluated, compared, critiqued, put down, ridiculed, applauded, loved, and yet also, shamed. I choose to live and work in this arena because I love being a creative. But I refuse to let it be seated with cesspools of people who are haters with no guts. They can kindly move on.
Vulnerability is having the courage to show up even when you can’t control the outcome. I could think something I created is awesome. Badass. It could bomb sale-wise. These days it’s all about getting as much as people can for the least amount they can possibly pay. It’s the Costco shopping mentality. There’s less appreciation for the art and effort, and more focus on how much they can get out of your published work. I can’t control what people will love. I can only design and produce what I think people are needing and what I think matches that beautiful intersection of design and usefulness.
If you haven’t watched Brene’s Netflix show, I think you’d really like it. She really hits the vulnerability aspect of lifeing on the head. And if you’re a creative like me, you’ll really appreciate what she has to say about critics and the courage it takes to create. It just may change your outlook on how much emphasis you put on getting reviews and your overall purpose and joy you find in being creative.