I received an email recently from someone who listened to one of our podcasts about facing criticism, and I wanted to share the experience with you. As an artist, we lay everything out there in the arena and experience a vulnerability that not too many people encounter.
The email went like this:
Hi Rafi and Klee!
I just had to drop you a line and let you know how much I appreciate you both and the stuff you are putting out into the universe. (Long time lurker over here! I’ve been watching your videos for a very long time now.) I like to listen to your podcast while I’m in the studio – it’s like having creative friends over. Also, please forgive this super long email.
In today’s podcast, Rafi mentioned that someone left a negative review on one of his books, and how ultimately he didn’t care, even though it dragged down his star rating. You have no idea how helpful it was for me to hear this! I have had books of mine on Amazon, and I eventually took them all down because I just couldn’t take the reviews. (They were just coloring books, but entirely filled with my hand-drawn original art.) In my second to most recent book, I was so proud of it. I worked really hard on it, and it was absolutely the best work I could do at the time. And guess what? The first review was a one-star review, absolutely eviscerating it. They even took photos of the pages they thought were particularly awful, some of which were actually best-selling prints for me. I was devastated, and I took the book down shortly after. I felt like I had produced a faulty “product”, not a heartfelt work of creativity, and it was my responsibility to get it away from the public. (I would later go on to give digital copies of this book away during the pandemic, and lots of people loved it and sent me the nice kind of photos, so maybe it wasn’t total trash?)
Your comment today struck my heart in a good way. I’m starting to see that the opinion of one random person ultimately doesn’t matter, and it shouldn’t keep me from putting my work out there. It sounds really obvious when I type it out, but it’s a real breakthrough for me!
That book is still off Amazon… but I just released a new one. Here’s hoping I don’t totally chicken out on marketing it! (To be clear – I never stopped putting my paintings out there… but I’ve been doing so in the quietest, most risk adverse way possible. For years!)
Thank you both so much for providing so much encouragement and wisdom! You are really making a difference in people’s lives for the better. Keep on being awesome!Claire Chambers ~ Chickenpants Studio
As a creative person, putting your work out into the world can be a vulnerable experience. When you put your heart and soul into something, you want it to be well-received. Unfortunately, negative feedback can hit hard and be discouraging. This has happened to me countless times.
Sometimes a review can feel like a reflection of your abilities and that maybe you have failed. It’s easy to be devastated and be tempted to retreat from the world. However, you shouldn’t let one person’s opinion affect you.
Some people out there will be uplifting and encouraging. Some, not so much. Negative feedback is just part of the creative process and you shouldn’t let it bring you down. People are weird fickle creatures whose motivation is usually prompted by their own emotional state. The person who left the negative review was probably having a bad day and decided to take it out on the book. However, you show courage by releasing a new book and sharing it anyway.
Experiences like this have taught me that putting yourself out there is scary but worth it. It’s okay to receive negative feedback, but it’s important to keep creating and sharing your work regardless. One person’s opinion doesn’t define your worth as a creative person.
Personally, if I listened to hateful reviews, I would not share art, podcasts, or videos. If you’re a creative person struggling with negative feedback, know you’re not alone. Keep pushing through and keep creating – the world needs your unique perspective and creativity.
People may use your art to blow off steam by attacking it, but your job is not to retreat. Your job is to keep pushing forward, persist and show how meaningless being hateful is. Only a handful of hateful people out there get a lot of attention because they can get under your skin. Ignore them. Don’t give them your power by buying into what they are saying. Just keep being your awesome self.
That’s why it’s also important to surround yourself with genuine creatives who will be honest and support you, because there is a BIG difference between constructive criticism and someone going out of their way to totally destroy someone’s creation. So, to the one-star reviewer who spent time taking pictures and feeling all high and mighty leaving a hateful review, “you can eat a bag.”