Overcoming Criticism

Cassandra Tondro, "Flourish," abstract painting

Hi Friends,

How do you handle negative comments about your work? Do you let them shut you down?

If you’re like many people, one negative comment can wipe out the warm, fuzzy feelings you got from hundreds of other positive comments. That one negative comment seems to get stuck in your brain.

Here are some of the comments from the videos on my YouTube channel:

What a waist of good paint. And I really do mean that. Properly painting a desk or chair would of been more impressive.

Stumbled across this video and thought “UGH” I was going to leave a comment and but realized I already did. 7 months ago. lol

nothing special !

Your videos are a waste of time that´s for sure

you seemed to have made a career with what I do when I’m bored

it is not art, this work of accident.

Plus many “thumbs down” ratings. As much as I’d like to think that my art has universal appeal, the truth is that it’s not for everyone. And people are not afraid to express their opinions on the Internet!

If you put your work out there, whatever type of work you do, you’re going to get criticism. But don’t let the fear of criticism keep you from sharing your work with the world. If you wait until the work is perfect and beyond criticism, that day will never come.

Criticism hurts because it resonates with our own insecurities about ourselves. Over the years I’ve learned to develop a thicker skin, and others’ opinions of my art no longer dictate my sense of self-worth. I do the work because it’s something that I enjoy doing, and if it resonates with other people, that’s great. If not, oh well!

I often choose not to reply to negative comments, and let others decide about the validity of the criticism for themselves. Occasionally I’ll engage with the criticism and say something like “Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Perhaps you’re not a fan of abstract art!” I try to keep it light and on the humorous side, for my own sake. The humor reminds me not to take any of the comments too seriously, good and bad.

What’s worse for me is getting no comments at all, when my work is discounted and seen as irrelevant. I’ll take negative comments any day over being ignored!

What’s your strategy for dealing with criticism? I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts. You can share them with us in the comments section below.

With love and appreciation,
Cassandra

Painting at top: “Flourish,” 28 x 22 inches, repurposed acrylic latex paint on canvas

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10 Comments

  1. Thank you for writing about this very sensitive subject. It is high time people learn that what they say or write hurts sometimes. I appreciate your vulnerability, and your good tips to use humor to defuse the way we have.a tendency to take things personally and let it squash out our creative efforts entirely sometimes. As artist we are born to create not matter what others say—what is important is that we do it for ourselves to express our spirits.

    1. Hi Cinthia. Yes, you’re right that we’re primarily creating to express ourselves and our spirit. It’s like a vital part of ouselves, and without it we can’t thrive. Some people don’t think before they write or speak, and you have to take what they say with a grain of salt. Are they professional art critics? Do they have experience looking at art? Are they even artists? Usually not. So what does their opinion matter?

  2. As an artist, one reaches out to share a part of oneself with others. We hope that it touches some part of another’s soul and resonates. Yes, that leaves one vulnerable to the opinions of others but we have to remember that, whether positively or negatively, it still resonated with them. We don’t look for approval, that is not what it’s about, at least from my perspective. Take for example a violinist, who can play the most beautiful melody, yet if the instrument is not tuned properly, will resonate poorly.

    1. Very good points, Erika. Yes, the work stirred some reaction, which is better than no reaction at all. I know that not everyone will like my work, but still there’s that initial sting of hurt before I can regroup and shake it off.

  3. Cassandra, I’m feeling defensive FOR you! The ludicrous you tube comments say more about the commenters than your beautiful work. Agree that using humor to deflect a bit is useful. But our art really does come from our souls. Deeply personal. Thanks for sharing yours.
    L.

    1. That’s funny, Louise! It is hard when you put so much of yourself into your work, and the criticism feels personal. But it’s really more about the person writing the comment than it is about me.

  4. It’s is really shocking to me how thoughtless people can be. How unkind. I’m so glad you don’t let those fools get you down! I enjoy all the different styles you do even though I don’t say so often enough

  5. It must be hard to hear such derisive comments. Your response was perfect: not defensive, deflecting with humor. Bravo.

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