Thursday, March 4, 2010

A rebuttal

You never know what Google might turn up. Last night an online discussion was brought to my attention that asks the question "Why is every piece of so-called art "created" by Christi Sobel an uninspired unoriginal cliche cartoon?" You can read all about it here if the link still works. It's an interesting experience to find yourself and your work being discussed in a third-party sort of way.

My first thought was actually to be flattered. That sufficient people have seen my work and thought about it enough for someone to have developed a strong negative opinion is a perverse sort of praise. I don't mind critique, a bold dissenting voice can point out flaws that can be improved and push us to move forward and grow. I also appreciate the fact that not everyone is going to like my paintings, and that's totally fine...I don't like every piece of art I see either. Just to be clear, I'm not offended that my work is not to everyone's taste.

A point I can take from Glenda is that yes, I would like to spend more time developing my painting and growing in that direction. I'd like nothing better. Life gets in the way though, things like making enough money to eat and live and buy the occasional plane ticket is pretty important. Of course I'd rather paint than spend my time making bookmarks, but it's sure better and more true than taking on some job I don't care about just to make income (my housecleaning and waitressing days are a thing of the past). I wish I had the luxury to just paint. This is a constant and central struggle I have...and every graphic design job I take I am thankful for because it pays the rent, but it takes time away from growing my art. I sometimes feel stagnant in my growth as an artist because of the time-and-income issue. If you have any suggestions on how to find that balance I'd love to hear them.

However, I have a few replies for Josh and Glenda and company and their condescending armchair-observer comments regarding my work and how I choose to run my business. I am dedicated to being an artist, for me that means I support myself 100% with my creative output one way or another. I honor and prioritize and allow free reign to my creativity, and am insulted to be told that my potential is limited, my visions are shallow, and that I'm not a True Artist because part of what I do is sell my work as reproductions via my website. I have always disliked having my art referred to as "cute" (although I personally don't mind being thought of as youthful). It is also an insult to be told that I am not a professional but merely a "nice young woman who is making an honest go of it." I love giving the world accessible art, and hear positive comments every day how it speaks to people. Right now I love painting with shocking blue. I am also proud of my skills as a scientific illustrator, and feel that since I have learned how to paint realistically I can now choose to avoid realism when I wish to.

I don't really need to spend the energy defending myself any further. To counterpoint the negative juju, tonight I walked into the Chapter House to meet up with some arty friends before gallery night, and the man behind the bar greeted me with, "oh hey, my wife and I love your work! We just moved and and finally have a chance to put all of the paintings we have of yours up on the walls..."


Woolpack Dave said...

Success can often be edged with heavier critique I find.

Gary's third pottery blog said...

see, the bar tender has TASTE :)
Not sure why anybody would waste their time trying to tear somebody apart, least of all YOU. You don't deserve it.

Nicki said...

I love your work, Christi, and should have told you so yesterday. It was great meeting you and hope to catch up with you again.

Gallow said...

Excellent post!! I'm amazed by artists who can make a living from their art.

They say I'm Bitter and Cynical, I prefer well Hopped said...

You tell 'em Christi! I for one have seen plenty of your work and think very highly of it. Is it Art (A vs. a)? I really don't feel that it is my place, or anybody else's to determine. It's an expression of yourself, if its big 'A' or little 'a' is up to you. If it pays the bills, even better.

The whole concept of the artist suffering for their work, is IMHO largely a construct of the "misunderstood" art school student or worse, art school washout, who has to rationalize their own lack of creativity/talent/acceptance/general-purpose/choosing-a-direction-in-life by their perceived shortcomings of other artists. I believe that these people might best be given the title of "Wanker," since that is clearly how they spend their days.

Keep up the good work!

JE said...

Here, here!

Cloudbuster said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cloudbuster said...

Honestly, Christi, these people have to be pretty pathetic losers with LOTS of time on their hands to waste it ragging on somebody they don't even know. Who goes out of their way to say such cheap and petty (and obviously ignorant) things about someone trying to make an honest and admirable career as an artist? My guess is it's someone who feels threatened by your genuine talent and crushingly insecure about their own lack thereof. There’s a special layer of hell reserved for spineless cowards who hide behind anonymous screen names to tear into other people online. I hope these losers burn there! :-)

Rob (Costello) – Just so nobody can accuse me of hiding behind an anonymous screen name

Liz said...

"Go with what Gog gave ya"... I think this may be my favorite part of her critique, and it may be advice I will take on myself: once I realize who Gog is, and what he or she may have given me, it sounds like it will be a blissful day indeed!

Anyway, more seriously... (and something you already know, of course, but perhaps I'm writing this for myself) art is a process and it's the inner workings of that process that is the most fascinating. Thus, I think the critique is very poorly articulated for one primary reason: they are judging a person's artistic interaction with the world based on the outcome alone. And as you say, liking an artist's output is such a subjective experience! So like the art or not. Any opinion is fine & be free to talk about why! critique away! all night and into the day!

...but don't talk down the artist's maturity level based solely on your own aesthetic preferences. That's the aspect of the write-up that I find most disappointing. And I'm sorry she went that far.

Love ya! and your artistic and business-woman sensibilities!

Anonymous said...

Liz, to be fair (as a good Irish lass) I must refute your response to the rebuttal of the critique of the so-called art. I was reared believing in "Gog" as a holy ancestor of my people. Gog is regarded as a symbolic ancestor of the Irish and is said to be the source of the spirit of creativity and mirth with which we in the bloodline are known to have been blessed. Too much really to assume knowledge of in a random blog, but there are more spiritual roots out there for people to hold on to than you may be aware.
["Gog" is also a figure in Jewish and Arab folklore, even appearing throughout the Pentateuch and both testaments of the Bible, but is not a positive presence--and certainly not a giver of creativity]
So New Age or Old Age Gog's been a part of my culture for a long time and I'd appreciate your not disrespecting that here. That's all I wanted to say. Go with Gog.