Disrespect is a serious problem. It’s one of the factors that leads to most societal problems and engenders hatred. Disrespect is the reason for “beefs” and diss records, it causes seemingly best friends to break a lifelong friendship both in real life and TV. And it’s the reason why a lot of artists often jump to being self-deprecating when discussing themselves or their work.
Why didn’t they just say that to my face? Why did they lie? I thought they liked what I did. What else have I done that they didn’t like?
Constant repetition of these kinds of questions leads to self-doubt that can become crippling. This isn’t to say people are incapable of becoming successful when dealing with self-doubt but success may not feel right because of it. Being an artist means coming head to head with constant criticism, unfortunately it’s part of the job but I’m not writing this to tell artists to suck it up. I’m here to say that you don’t have to take criticism that may actually be abuse.
Potential patrons too often act really shitty towards artists. My friends have been recounting a lot of tales lately of people who casually said mean things and others who berated the artist for their work being different. And this happens everywhere to artists, not just at conventions or gallery shows but also in their day jobs. Maybe it’s their supervisor or maybe it’s someone that the artist doesn’t ever collaborate with. People are crappy for various reasons and I’m just here as a reminder that You deserve better.
And you’re not alone. I wouldn’t be where I am if it were not for my fantastic group of friends and it took me a while to find them. Through Meet-up groups, industry get-togethers and other friends. I’m incredibly thankful for my network and because of my experiences with them, I’m hoping to build an even wider network for others to connect regardless of geography. While there are tons of outlets, it can be hard to get started in a new community (on- or off-line) or to know the chemistry when you first join.
You deserve your own network of people that appreciate and respect you. That network will help you remind yourself of your self-worth and remind you that the constant self-doubt sometimes isn’t worth your time. That will make it easier to recognize when you are being disrespected and how to professionally address the situation. And then, how to move on and learn from any incident. To err is human, to forgive is divine and I think artists can be the most divine (disclaimer: extreme bias as an artist).