Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Few Words on False Authority and Being a Developing Artist

One of the reasons I hesitate to post my own tutorials and resources is because I simply am not a master at anything yet; this is also why I choose to critique others with suggestions and a gentle voice. I do not believe I can speak with any kind of authority that my work will back up. In fact, one of my biggest pet peeves is people who speak with false authority, hiding behind big words and spewing out principles whose understanding aren't evident in their own work. In my opinion, there's no greater waste of time than listening to someone who speaks with false authority.

BUT. One of the greatest things about being a developing artist today is the wealth of resources that one can find to help stimulate progress, increase understanding, and enhance technical skill. Part of your job as an artist, along with beefing up those technical skills, is also discerning with wisdom what advice to follow, and what advice is not strategic for you - discerning between true authority and false authority. It is your right as an artist to decide what will help you and what will hinder you, provided you are doing your homework as to WHY. These things extend to more than just the technical aspect, because I do wholeheartedly believe that one's own relationship with their work is a emotional connection that needs to be nurtured, for better or for worse. Along with making sure that your resources are credible for developing your work, it is your right to decide which environments you thrive in, and which you do not.

Some people will tell you that if you don't listen to them, you're floundering, or you're self-absorbed, or that you have a huge ego. But I tell you this from experience: if you are seeking the information elsewhere, in an environment that is credible and helpful, and are truly disciplined and trying to apply it, you're none of those things. Most often, the people telling you that you MUST listen to them or perish as an artist are the ones with the biggest egos, and most likely speak with false authority. It is your absolute right to figure out what is the best environment for you, regardless of who agrees. Again though, this must be done through experience and careful discernment.

I recently made the decision to cut out what I believe to be a source of false authority, and I know loud and clear that there are some who do not agree with that decision. Interestingly enough, I have been involved in conversations concerning this topic for the past few weeks with quite a few people, here and there; and have found that many people feel the same way. I write this blogpost for you guys, and for me, and for any artist out there who is encountering a similar situation and has questions.

And I will say with great conviction, unapologetically:

I reserve the absolute right to make the best decision for me and my work, no matter what it is or who agrees or doesn't agree with it. I reserve the absolute right to make the decision between positivity and negativity, without having to be judged or ridiculed for it. I reserve the absolute right to pursue what will help me, and to cut off what is stifling me.



  1. I agree with you. I think that the false authority thing is becoming more of a problem too.

    So many people on the internet these days seem to be interested in having "logical discussions", which is great. Except that most of these people are only interesting in calling out and putting down other artists. using big words as you said, and really just trying to display a bunch of "knowledge" that they really don't have.

    I personally got out of an argument earlier today and I can tell you that the other person was no more of an art expert than I am. Just because I choose not to use big words and use emoticons, doesn't mean I'm a push over! :P

    Great post :) And I'm glad you decided to cut the useless stuff out of your studies :)

  2. Chris,

    Thanks for commenting with your thoughts!

    It's great that the internet is a tool and that we can use it for exposure of our works, and to learn. But yes, it comes with people who think they know everything and have no reservation about sharing that with you. We're all entitled to our opinions, eh?

    I've been reading a lot of business articles for my etsy shop lately, and I got the greatest piece of advice: "The most successful businesses spend just as much time cutting out what does NOT work, as they do investing in and developing what does work."

    I feel it is the same way with art. You've got to prioritize and understand what's helping you, and what's not, and sometimes you just have to be cut-throat for your own sake. Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.

    I'm sorry to hear you were in an argument. It's frustrating because it's sort of a no-win situation, especially on the net. And I agree. I think a lot of people think I'm a pushover. Test me, and you'll find out that I don't put up with abuse.

    If I'm not learning from you, you're not giving me the respect I've earned through hard work, and I can get the information from a better source, I don't need you in my life. Period.

  3. Well said. Everything should be taken with a grain of salt, and nobody should shove their opinions down others throat. Everyone has different level of understanding and different approaches. While I do encourage to try different methods and techniques, I understand certain things aren't meant for everyone, and it's really up to the artist to decide.


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