You are not your artwork.

"You are not your artwork."  Almost certainly, you've heard that before.  Usually, it's a reminder to not take crits too personally, and it's a good one.  Your personal self-worth has nothing to do with the work you create, and that's a necessary thing to remember to keep your distance and hear when people are making constructive criticisms of the piece.


(Oh come on, you knew there was going to be a but!)

There's the other side, that people don't like to talk about.  While the failings of the work do not reflect on you, your personal situation probably won't be taken into account when reviewing the work.

This can be a much harder pill to swallow, but it is necessary to remember as you try to move towards working in the entertainment industry.  And, to be clear, this is talking about trying to work for a studio.  If you are creating personal work that reflects who you are for an audience that cares about who made it, your situation is different.

Studio work is work.  Assuming they aren't racist/sexist/bigots of some kind, they don't really care who makes it for them.  If they are those things, that's a different story.

There is a stereotype of artists as being "sensitive."  Certainly, from my observation, in high school and college, sensitive people are attracted to the concept of making art.  Practical folks go into business, or computer science, or medicine.  What makes the entertainment industry different from "art" is that it is an industry.  It requires a level of "practical", and confidence.

I have friends who have backgrounds that include almost crippling depression, self-doubt and anxiety.  I love them dearly.  The sad truth is that art directors don't care.  If you can't deliver, they won't hire you.  I struggle with what to tell those friends.  On the one hand, I *NEVER* tell someone they can't "make it."  I had a teacher in art school tell me I should be a writer, and not an artist - and screw that guy.  No one knows who will or won't succeed.  On the other hand, if you struggle to be able to produce work to practice and get better, and if a negative crit sends you spiraling into a dark're going to have a really hard time.

The world isn't fair.  Someone who comes from money is going to have an easier time, if only because they can spend more time practicing, and less energy worrying about where rent is coming from.  That's just a fact.

However - easier doesn't mean exclusive.  Where you come from doesn't determine where you end up....but you can't use it as an excuse.  The industry doesn't care.  If you go to a crit and get told, "You need to spend a lot more time on <xxx>" you can't respond with, "But I don't have more time because I have a full time job!"  That may be true, but you are not your work.  Same with "Because I'm depressed, I have a hard time getting out of bed, much less working on painting."  As a person, I'm sure that AD will understand, have sympathy for, and probably like you.  As an AD with a job to do...they aren't giving you a special break because of your background.

I've said it before, you don't "win" life by getting a certain job.  You win by doing things that make you fulfilled and happy.  You are not your job either.  You can never get paid ever for making paintings, and feel fulfilled painting.  The industry is hard enough to get into that if you are fighting who you are on top of everything else, you have to decide if that is right for you.

If it is, your next step is to figure out how to overcome those aspects of yourself that fight what you are trying to do.  I had MASSIVE ADHD as a child...and as a consequence, I've learned what my attention span is, and I try for work that fits with that.  I have ZERO interest in making 80+ hour paintings...because I'd go mad.  I'm never going to be able to compete with someone who loves painting every blade of grass.  I do make an excellent  concept artist.

Find the path that is right for you, and walk it with your head high.  You are not your artwork.  You have worth that is intrinsic to you, and you have something to offer the world.  Don't take criticism of your work as criticism of you - but don't use who you are as an excuse for why the work is the way it is.  

I'm going to leave you with something I found on Facebook this week:


Thanks for reading!