Monday, May 28, 2007

The artists vs. the audience: we have a verdict

Much ado about manners lately. Some artists in the community don't feel they are getting enough helpful feedback. That's a fair thing to express; after all, a true and solid community is there to support its members. And if the artists would like feedback, they should be able to get it. It's appropriate for them to step up and say "Hey, help me get better here."

Instead, they're saying, "Don't give me feedback unless it's detailed, in the following manner." A few folks have actually posted nasty rants complaining about people noting their art as among their favorites, but not expressing why that art is a favorite. For some, saying "I like this work" is a strong vote. But that's not enough for some of the artists, so they're not really asking for more detailed critiques so much as demanding it.

Hold on a fucking second.

The community is always changing; there are always people flowing in and out. I do notice that the age range seems to spike young, as people are just getting through puberty, just figuring out their sexual identities, and while they have a fair amount of free time in school.

So what we have is a bunch of young artists, and a bunch of young consumers, and neither one is mature enough to know how to express themselves in an effective manner. Better still, we've got a charge of audience immaturity that's being expressed through a tempter tantrum. Zero credibility there.

You can see the answer, can't you? It's "grow up." To everyone. Here's the truth:

Consumers, realize that the artists in your community are not vending machines set to dispense product for free. They are living, breathing, human beings with creative drive, neuroses, busy lives, writer's block, passion, and everything else both good and bad that comes with being an artist in any form. Encourage their work; give the artists your support in constructive criticism. The more detail the better. But you have to be willing to do that because it's simply the right thing to do; you will not get an extra-special personal picture of exactly what you personally prefer to see when it comes to burnishing your bishop. The artists are not your personal playthings; you have to respect their processes. And if none of what I've just said makes sense, you're too young to be looking at sexually explicit material anyway, and you should leave. The community will be here when you get back.

In short: You simply cannot demand things from your artists. It's not your place.

Artists, realize that when you put your artwork out there, the double-edged curse is that it may affect someone. You would be miserable if people did not know you existed and ignored your art; this attention is part of what drives you, whether you choose to accept that fact or not. But in seeking that reaction from outside sources, you cannot control what form that reaction takes or how deep it goes. Ask for feedback, encourage it, but don't lash out at the audience because they didn't see your art the way you intended, or they don't understand your delicate nature as a unique creative flower, or they just didn't give you something you can act upon. Hell, some of them may not even be able to verbalize what it is about your art that makes them all tingly down there; if they can't express it, they're not going to leave you a comment. Take what you can get when it comes to feedback, or you'll wind up getting nothing.

In short: You simply cannot demand things from your audience. It's not your place.

Class dismissed, kids. Now stay off my lawn.

1 comment:

Wonderlander said...

Amen, mate!

I have been on all sides of this issue. Way back in the ninties when I was just first wetting my feet in the community, I was stupid enough to make unreasonable requests of the resident talent. I soon started dabbling myself, and quickly realized what a little bitch I'd been.

Since then, I have recieved praise, requests, threats, legal action, helpful commentary, sympathy, and many other things from the community. Sometimes from fans and/or fellow expansion enthusiasts, sometimes from horrible little trolls who seem to think that the 'net is their own personal playground.

Some of it made me feel good, some of it made me crawl off and cry, never to be heard from again for several years. (I have only recently stepped back onto the scene.)

I think you summed it up quite nicely. The consumers have no right to complain (beggars and choosers, right?), and the artists need to come down of their high-horses. We are a bizarre little community, and without each other's support and tolerance, we will go the way of the Wren.