Odds are we’ve all been there. You have hundreds of fans and one person complaining about your work. Naturally, that one persons comment drives you crazy and somehow that whole army of people who support you still can’t get that thought out of your head. It can be incredibly difficult to deal with things like this and get back into your flow. So how do you get back on task? Here are some suggestions in this weeks Friday Artist Talk.
Bullying is definitely a hot topic right now, and as you know the internet is no stranger to it. This discussion is focused on those times you feel your artwork has unjustly been put down. Sure we all get critiques, but I mean when it’s just flat out hate mail with nothing positive to contribute. You’re now feeling emotionally distraught. The comic you worked hard to create has been put down. Maybe you’re even feeling some doubts. What you need is to try something to get you back to what matters, being focused on your artwork.
5. Refocus on those fans.
Again, I can’t stress enough how useful a deviantART account can be. Yes, you can still get people who will bully you on there, but you’ll also eventually have some eager fans who add your account to their watch list. Sometimes it’s good to just take the time out and reply to them. It helps refocus you on what matters. Get in there and respond to your fans. Even if they’re just making small comments, thank them! They’re taking time out to let you know that their artwork meant enough to them that they typed something about it. Keep in mind that most people just flip through image after image in a flurry of activity. Your art made them pause and take it in.
Obviously you don’t want to make everything about yourself and annoy anyone, but if fans are coming to your gallery, odds are they’re interested in what you’re doing anyway. Write journals, make poll questions about your creations, and in general make use of all the goodies deviantART has to offer.
If you can otherwise, check out the stats for your site and don’t look at it as a glass half empty thing if the numbers happen to be lower than usual. Look at the people who have checked out your comic and realize that each person has been personally affected by your work. They read your comic, saw your artwork, and that’s what matters. Yes, it’s difficult, especially when you’re focused on negative comments, but you need this time to unwind and get back on topic.
4. Look at your art, not someone else’s.
When you’re feeling down like this, the worst thing you can do is to start comparing yourself to other artists. You won’t find anything positive in that kind of reflection. Especially since you’ll probably be searching out people who you feel are better than you. In this sense you’ll not only put yourself down, but you can distract yourself from your own style of artwork. Remember, your fans like your art for what it is. Looking at what someone else does and trying to make yourself like them just detracts from what you’ve already built up. In rare cases it can be a good thing to shake things up, but for the purpose of this talk, taking bullying comments to heart and changing yourself because of one hater isn’t a good idea.
Go through the collection of artwork you’ve created. Look at all the things you’ve enjoyed and take it what makes your art unique. Don’t be critical, just enjoy. This is especially great if you have older artwork to leaf through. You can see past creations and maybe even get inspired in the process.
3. Take a break.
After your emotions flare through the roof and you’re ready to tell off your bully for their comments, it’s probably not the best of time to get drawing. Maybe you are someone who can work through that, and if it’s done well for you before, that’s good. Otherwise, it’s best to just take a favorite past time and enjoy yourself for a bit. You need to calm down and get focused on what matters again. Odds are you probably go through enough emotions as you draw, experiencing mild reflections of what the characters are feeling. If you’re just raging all over the place, you’ll just get more frustrated.
Remember if you’re on a deadline of course, but otherwise fire up your fave video game and let off some steam. You do have an “A Game” and you will get back there. Yes, it’s a downer when someone insults your creation, but that doesn’t mean your work isn’t great in everyone else’s eyes. Get your mind off it, let yourself cool down, and return to your drawing with a renewed sense of calm.
2. Remove the offending comment.
You don’t have to reply to hate mail. If it’s a comment, message, or whatever, delete it. The last thing you want is a reminder of what frustrates you. If it is a critical review of your work that seems politely worded, at least consider if it’s bullying or an actual critique. Regardless though, don’t feel obligated to reply. Or if you must and you do feel it’s intentionally negative, thank them for their opinion and move on.
Of course this isn’t in reference to anything threatening. That’s a completely different category. I just mean if it’s someone flat out being negatively critical of your work.
1. Meditation can help get you back on track.
Sure, this last suggestion sounds a bit out there but I’m not talking about anything in a religious sense. I mean literally either just taking time out to sit in silence and focus on just your breathing for a set time, or more detailed like a guided meditation. As surprisingly as it may seem, when you sleep you’re still not giving your mind a chance to relax. Your body is recharging, but sometimes your mind just needs time to calm down too, especially if you’re dealing with negative comments. Don’t get me wrong either, if you don’t feel that meditation is right for you, that’s cool. There are lots of great ideas above. This is just a suggestion.
If you haven’t tried anything like meditation before, you probably think it just sounds silly and you’ll feel awkward trying it out. It’s worth it to take it seriously and give it a go. Again, this isn’t meant as a religious focus or such, this is literally about psychological science. Is it going to turn you into a super human that will be one with the world and be able to create comics by willing molecules together? No. Well, if it does I’d love to hear about that in the comments section. But odds are it won’t. But it will give your mind an extended time to relax instead of getting involved and writing back to your bully and just stirring up more negativity.
For those interested in guided meditation, I’d recommend Dr. Dan Siegel. He has a Wheel of Awareness guided meditation practice which pretty much just involves looking at your senses, focusing on each section of your body, your thought process, and then feeling connected to the world and focusing on positive feelings towards others and yourself. The practice itself is available for free on his site in recorded format (I’m referring to the basic one) however it is also on youtube below and that recording seems to be better. Regardless of which ideas you go with to relax, remember that as hard as it seems, your fans are there because they like what you do. Just because someone puts you down, that doesn’t mean you should change your whole world. Yes, it can hurt, but you’ll get back to doing what you love.