This site has given me great opportunities to interact with and learn from artists who don't think about art and life in quite the same way I do. At the same time, this site has shown me some of the worst behavior I've even seen, on or offline. The insults, the attention-whoring the theft, it's all here. But in talking to some others, I approach an improved perspective that I hope I can embrace as I move forward and (hopefully) grow as a person and an artist. So here's my little list of "If you're doing this, you're doing it [art] wrong." I'm fine admitting that I am or have been guilty of some of these from time to time. I'm not perfect and I'm not pure as the untrodden snow. May this list serve as a signpost, especially to me, of when I've lost sight of the true path.
1) "I make [my work] because it will make me popular (or get me views, or faves, or watchers)"
At the end of the day, enjoyment of an artistic fulfillment should be the goal. Not getting our names out there and or being congratulated by our engorged fanbase. I think this is a problem for all of us. It's fun to be liked. It feels good to be popular and get patted on the back (or is it on the head?). And it is so easy to stare with naked envy at the person who's getting more acclaim than we do. But when that happens, the heart will go out of what we do, and we'll grow to hate what we do and resent others because we're doing it for the wrong reasons. I think each and every one of us needs to fight that green-eyed monster and make our art for us, and to hell with everyone else.
I know in my heart that I'm on the right path with my patterns. I continued to make them through years of disapproving art teachers (these people were grading me mind you) and family that thought I was wasting my time (or doing immoral things with the Feminine Abstractions). I continued to make these because it's something that's wired into me to do. I love it. I enjoy it, and I hope that never changes. My art and my patterning are how I relax when work is getting the better of me. I call it my "mental health hobby." I've also started making these for my friends. The look of joy on their faces when they see it for the first time makes all the effort more than worth it, but if the image gets a cold response? At least I still had a fulfilling time making it, because I enjoy the process, the mental exercise.
There have been times where I've come close to forgetting this. There are days when I let the numbers and "what they mean" get to me more than I should. I created a separate account for some model photography I've been doing/getting into. Watching the stats on that account for the last 2 weeks as I've posted a few (I feel) tastefully done nudes has been about enough to drive me insane. But in the end, I love what I do, I'm proud of what I make, and I'm not going to change what I do because of what anyone else thinks. One of the artists I think I respect most in this world had to fight for 2 decades to keep doing the art he loved in the face of friends and family accusing him of practically being the devil incarnate. I envy his strength of conviction far more than I envy his pageviews, especially on days when mine is feeling rather frail. Every time the heat gets turned up though, it gives me a chance to see where my heart really is.
2) "I want to make money off my art! It's good! People should buy it!"
Seriously? This is largely an offshoot of 1) above. Very few people can make a living as an artist, and that is freaking hard work. You think your day job is rough? Yeah, whatever. This carries the same problem as 1) above. If you aren't enjoying your work, if you don't love it, you're screwed. Your passion will become something you hate, and no amount of money can be worth that. I've given away more artwork than I've ever sold. That's honestly never bothered me. Yeah. Art gets expensive. The paper, the pencils, the paints... Do you like photography? I do. Do you have any idea how easy it is to spend THOUSANDS of dollars on gear? VERY! Yeah. It would be great for this hobby to at least pay for itself, but I'm not going to stop because I'm operating at a loss. I enjoy it too much for that. Interpersonal problems are far more likely to bring an end to my artistic efforts than money. Money I can deal with in time. People just fuck life up.
3) "I comb through the popular deviations looking for people posting PORN (le gasp!) and stolen images so I can report them!"
Honestly guys, this just makes me sad. There seems to be a large (perhaps growing) contingent on dA that must dedicate hours upon hours a week (a day perhaps?) to hunting down and fighting "thieves and rule breakers" like a pack of rabid crusaders. Now, I don't like art theft anymore than the rest of you. As an artist I hate it with an undying passion, but I think some of it belongs in perspective. If someone is posting an image that doesn't belong to them, admitting they didn't make it, and not trying to sell it, then yes, this is a rules violation. However, this is NOT a reason to curse at the person and call them horrible things or say "I hope you die!" If the person isn't trying to profit off the image then even most copyright courts/lawyers wouldn't bother with it because there have been no financial damages (that you can prove)! This is not something to get your panties (or briefs) in a knot over (that seems like it would hurt). The same is true of someone taking pictures of their crotch or them masturbating to get attention. If the person has self-worth issues you're not helping that by insulting them. If they're an exhibitionist you're giving them exactly what they wanted. That's the major problem with the crusader mentality. By clicking the deviation (giving it a view) and commenting on it you're helping to give them the attention and the notoriety you so passionately feel they don't deserve!
But there's another cost to this crusader behavior... How much art could these people make, I wonder, if they just stopped trying to police the internet (a hopeless task as we all know) and just went out and enjoyed making their art again? How many beautiful images do we never get to see because they were too busy ripping into someone else? I know! I used to do this! Then I realized what it was costing me! I'd rather have my art than see someone else punished. Sure, theft still bothers me, but you take what steps you can to protect yourself and you move on. I post my pictures here at such a low resolution that no thief could ever use the files to make a decent print. As long as the thief doesn't make money selling my stuff, why have a stroke over it? (and even then, say they are profiting, don't have a coronary, please.) Sure, if I happen upon something that I'm 90+% sure is stolen, I'll probably say so, or report it, or politely ask the person to remove it, but I'm not going to go hunting them down. You do that and you're not much better than the trolls you're fighting because you're probably getting off on your sense of moral superiority.
There may be more on this later... but this will do for now.