My favorite college professor taught art history. He’d started out life as a photographer, a lifelong dream since he’d mixed his own chemicals in a homemade darkroom under his parents’ stairway.
As a young man he’d had an opportunity to show his portfolio to a big shot, an established and highly celebrated photographer whom he admired deeply. The Big Shot Photographer took one look at his work and pronounced, “Boring.”
My teacher later told me this was a gift, The Big Shot Photographer had been right and his talents were better served as an historian, a teacher, and enthusiast of the medium.
But that story always bothered me.
Later, I would meet The Big Shot Photographer and we too became close friends. I showed him my work but I felt that he never really looked before dismissing it.
And dismiss it he did, advising me to become an art historian instead.
I tried it his way but could never shake the feeling that I’d been sold a bum rap.
I later opened a gallery and started selling the work of The Big Shot Photographer. It was the first time I ever felt he approved of me. Probably because he said, “This is the first time I’ve ever approved of you.”
When I told him I missed making my own work, he waved me off, “You’ve finally found success. This is what you were meant to do.”
When I later quit to devote myself to photography and writing, I proudly showed him some of my stories and images. He didn’t even look, “That’s not my sort of thing,” he sniffed.
And when I launched The Working Artist and started helping other artists find success in the marketplace, he responded, “You were more interesting when you were selling art.”
(I think he meant that I was more interesting when I was selling HIS art)
As an artist, I understand that not everyone will like my stuff, and I challenge myself not to take it personally. But it’s especially difficult when that someone is a friend whom I value and an artist I respect.
At first, his response to my work made me quit. Later, it made me try harder. Now, it just makes me sigh. But never again will his opinion or anyone else’s make me stop.
Because I’ve got work to do.
And so do you. Get to work! Don’t allow anyone to stop you.
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Working in the international world of contemporary art, Crista Cloutier has spent her career selling art and marketing art to art galleries, museums and private collections.
Using her professional experiences, Crista has created The Working Artist Masterclass, where she’s developed a global reputation as an artist’s coach. Crista can teach you how to be an artist; including how to sell your art, how to sell art online, how to sell photographs, how to price your art, how to succeed at art fairs, and even how to find your art style.
Crista has worked with established, blue-chip artists to raise their profile and attract greater opportunities. And she’s also helped thousands of emerging artists to build a professional art practice. To learn more, visit https://theworkingartist.com