You work hard at creating pieces of art, design, writing, music, song and dance. But do people truly like what you do? If you want to do well, earn and survive in this industry, it’s quite important that at least a few people do.

What follows might come as a reminder of your brilliance but it could also be a reality adjustment for some of you. The aim here is to reveal some of the things that turn away people from the art that you create, so that you can start with greater clarity to really make the most of what you can offer the world.*

*This is not to say that I regard my own work to be great; I still feel I have only just started. We are all in this together and I too am learning every day.

Some of these reasons are common sense. Some of it might really help you; some might surprise you and some of it you’ll see is pretty unfair. This is the nature of the art world, and it is also dependant on the specific industry you’re in, with some being a lot more reliant on trend than others.

Despite all this, it is my aim that you come away from this with a refreshed sense of what you might be doing wrong, what you are getting right and what you can do to put yourself in the best possible position.

Here we go…

1. It’s not refined yet

You simply haven’t got to a stage where your style and presentation of the work you do is honed and refined. This means you reach a point where your work possesses a level of clarity and is distinctly your own. This takes time and practice, but people will notice when you get there.

2. It’s not targeted

Not having an idea of who the end user or admirer of your creations actually is, will muddy your decision-making process and affect the clarity and message behind your work.

“Art, especially the visual stuff, requires some grasp of colour, light and layout.”

3. It’s been done already

Emulating and taking from other artists early on as you develop a style and a voice is perfectly fine, in my view. But don’t expect people to fall head over heels for your stuff if it isn’t original.

4. You don’t understand light/colour balance and composition

Art, especially the visual stuff, requires some grasp of colour, light and layout. In writing, the equivalent would be along the lines of pacing and sentence structure. These compositional ‘rules’ apply to all other forms of creative work.

Make sure you ‘get’ these basics before expecting people to like what it is you do.

5. You don’t know why you are doing something

Knowing ‘why’ means having an understanding of how your art will serve the end user. I use the term ‘user’ in a broad sense, encompassing admirers and fans, as well as users of a product. For example, in understanding what message you are putting across to readers of a magazine to which you are providing illustrations.

Knowing why in this way creates real clarity of purpose, which will have a direct effect on the work you create.

6. It lacks consistency

Having some form of consistency in what you produce is important. People recognise your style, it builds credibility as an artist, strengthens your brand, and looks professional.

Staying focused in this regard is therefore important.

7. You’re not making sacrifices

It’s not everyone who has the balls to consistently make truly great work. Some things need switching off in order for your own creative spark to flourish long enough to ignite into fire.

Strategically saying no to things that obstruct this is very necessary. You very likely know what these things are.

8. It’s not fashionable

This is when it helps to be aware of what kinds of things people are drawn to at any point in time.

I’m not an advocate of shifting your style according to fashions. These come and go, and the real artist is the one that is leading or bypassing the trends. Just make sure you aren’t working to a style that is clearly emulating something that isn’t ‘fashionable’ in your corner any longer.

“Look towards something greater than yourself.”

9. Your portfolio is poor

Cut out the stuff that is subtracting from the quality and excellence of your portfolio collection. Don’t include crap work and keep work of different mediums, or entirely different styles within separate portfolios.

Overlapping painting and photography within a single collection, for example, will only serve to detract from the clarity that you are aiming to achieve as a creative pro.

10. You lack a purpose

Know why it is you do what you do at a level beyond the end user experience.

Look towards something greater than yourself. Take pictures professionally to contribute to society, over solely making you look good. A solid purpose in this way will motivate you, thus leading to better work, and work that people are drawn to who also share your purpose.

11. You aren’t well known

Whether you like it or not, there is a lot of power rooted in people knowing you and talking about you. Your work literally will appear more appealing to people if they know other people talk positively about it, well beyond someone’s rational response to a piece of art.

This is helped through building up credibility and exposure over time through the work you create, putting up testimonials, the way in which you promote yourself, meeting people, and just getting your name out there.

12. You’re just creating

There is a difference between simply creating something new, and creating something new that builds on your previous work or experiences. What made Picasso fascinating was not simply a single painting of his. His whole body of work was interesting to so many because of the progression he’d show in what he was creating.

Ernest Hemingway drew a huge amount out of his personal experiences during wartime and from his time in Africa. These were things that added great depth to his writing, even though he apparently wrote a lot of poor stuff before getting highly skilled over time. Think about how this applies to you.

“Don’t expect to be brilliant in a short space of time.”

13. You don’t present it well

Take care over the presentation surrounding all of your work. This means a well designed website and a portfolio that demonstrates real care and pride has gone into it. Good presentation is half the battle.

14. You haven’t given it enough time and practice

Don’t expect to be brilliant in a short space of time. There’s no side-stepping around improvement through putting in the hours and minutes, and practice in honing a style and a skill. It takes time. Know this, and enjoy the journey.

15. You don’t understand ‘cool’

I’ve talked about the importance of grasping the concept of ‘cool’ and incorporating it into your art and the presentation of your art. I talked about cool as the fascinating quality that encapsulates an up to date awareness of what really interests people, and being original, honest and authentic as you go about delivering it.

This awareness is not something anyone is simply born with. Put in the research; learn about what your people like; and you can generate cool work.

Different audiences are matched to different forms of cool, which is why it pays to know what type of person reacts well to your work and tailor what you do towards them, instead of trying to reach everyone.

When a few people react to your work with an: ‘oh, that’s so cool!’ response, you know you’ve cracked it.

“When you achieve skill in something, you switch from observer to owner.”

16. It lacks emotion

This means your art either fails to transmit any of your own emotion conveyed through the work, or it fails to kindle any emotional response in the person experiencing your art. Both are important.

17. It lacks skill

This ties in with practicing over time, but deserves to be mentioned on its own. Skill is something that, by its very nature, requires ongoing, repetitive practice. After some time, you get to a certain level at which the way you work could be considered skillful. Prior to this, you are an observer and a student.

When you achieve skill in something, you switch from observer to owner, and your creations take on a whole new form.

18. The work itself lacks care

Ok, so there is such a thing as creative licence, and this plays a role in dimming the line between interesting and experimental work and poor skill, but if you are genuinely not putting everything you have into taking care over your creations, this will cheapen them.

The result? Work that isn’t made to its full potential, and unhappy customers and/or disinterested viewers.

“Understand your user too. Understand them really well.”

19. You aren’t generating exposure

You’ve heard it before. If you don’t put in the effort to get eyeballs in front of your work (and the right kinds of eyeballs at that), no matter how masterful the work is, you won’t get very far in terms of gaining a positive response from people, let alone any response.

This applies to all your best work, because if you promote one piece well, but no one knows your other work, and have therefore not grown in approval of you (including through social proof), that piece may not generate the response it deserves.

People are funny creatures, and react with some distrust towards things they are unfamiliar with. People respond better to things they trust; and this leads to good previous exposure of your art.

20. You are too interested in yourself

An ego-driven creative process can be great, if you make good use of emotional energy and express it through the work. But be careful about how self-interest can harm the experience other people have of what you do.

Perhaps you are making things that are of interest to you, but will it interest others? Understand your user too. Understand them really well.

21. You lack passion for your work

The passion, obsession or interest you have for what you do is undoubtedly felt by others through what you create. If you have none, it will show, so find something to get passionate, ideally obsessed, about. It makes actually getting work done easier too.

22. You don’t do much else interesting

The art you make is almost, if not as important, as the stuff you do that forms the context around it. Do fun, unusual, weird, exciting things with your life outside of the work you do, and make people aware of it too. It will make a difference as to how people perceive you, and also your art.

“Remain focused on making more with less.”

23. You are seeking approval

There is a fine line between creating with an understanding of what makes people tick, and creating with the specific intention of impressing people. When you are seeking approval, you are only focused on outcome, and you are trying to do something specific based on a preconceived idea of what you think people like, instead of letting the work flow naturally from you.

The danger lies in diverting your attention away from the process of creating. The perfect balance lies in knowing why you’re creating (to spread joy? To make people think? To inspire? To inform?) whilst maintaining a solid presence with the work.

Granted, finding this balance is one of the more complicated aspects of creating good and meaningful work, where feedback over time can be the best guide.

Approval will come after you quit trying, and simply do.

24. You spread yourself too thinly

The best art springs out of a determination to remain focused on making more with less. Taking on too much will inevitably result in less concerted effort placed on more stuff, and your work will suffer as a result.

Get really good at one thing. Excel at one thing, before moving on to the next if you must. All else is distraction.

25. You aren’t aware of the world around you

Maintaining a healthy interest in the world around us and the knowledge accrued through doing so will add a depth to your art and the service you provide for the better. I wrote in another post that eradicating ignorance is one of the biggest hurdles to progress of any kind. It will likely benefit your creativity too.

26. You take it too seriously

This is easier said than done if you care a great deal for your craft. However, often the thing you need most in improving the quality of your work is to shift your mindset. Make a conscious decision to enjoy your process, your business, your customers.

Calming down and seeing the joy in what you do will have a profound effect on your output.

I could probably write much more on this topic, but I’ll stop here for now. These points demonstrate that creating likeable, loved art is not restricted to the gifted few, but available to anyone who makes conscientious steps in making it happen.

An awareness of what works and what impedes your progress can make all the difference in how others respond to your creative contribution to the world.

As always, I’m interested in seeing your feedback and your thoughts, which you can add to the comments area below. Do sign up to the tips newsletter and share this post via social media too. I will be very grateful.

If you are an illustrator or graphic artist wanting more, and better clients, read our new guide.

.

Posted by Alex Mathers

Alex is a project starter, sometimes finisher, writer and illustrator. He started Red Lemon Club in 2009 with the aim of helping talented creative people leave their mark.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

96 Comments

  1. As always, I’m interested in seeing your feedback and your thoughts, which you can add to the comments area. Do sign up to the tips newsletter and share this post via social media too. I will be very grateful.

    Reply

  2. I wrote a comment but it seems it got lost, so here I go again. If it happens it’s being monitored, please feel free to delete this second one.

    This is a great list for a self assessment. I have to improve many aspects of my work, so it will be very useful, thanks a lot!

    I haven’t exposed my work that much and as a consequence I’ve received little feedback, and probably this is the reason I have always a hard time when I think about how to target my work. I don’t know who the end user could be, who could like my work, and sometimes I get confused between just following my heart or trying to be more analytic and do the kind of work best suited for my style… if I have one. But I hope this kind of issues will get resolved, or at leat some of it, as I get my work out there and get more feedback and more experience.

    Again, thanks a lot for sharing so much of your knowledge!

    PD: I’m following you on twitter (@RemeGarod) but didn’t want to connect with it.

    Reply

    1. Sorry to hear that your comment got lost, Reme :/, but thank you for this one. If you can clarify those questions, you are off to a great start.

      Reply

  3. Wow. There’s a lot of tips here. They all seem to be going in so many different directions! You’d do well to take handfuls of these and write individual articles on them. As it stands, while these are good to keep in mind, you’ve got so many that you were forced to just briefly touch on them. In some cases, that gets in the way of actually understanding them.

    Looking at it another way, though, it makes a great checklist!

    Reply

    1. I’d agree, Phil – I did view this post as a real overview (or checklist as you say!), and could well go into separate posts for each point – which I may well do over time.

      Reply

  4. One of your last points truly resonated with me. Lately I’ve been thinking I need to remind myself that what I do (painting) is FUN, and I should think of it in those terms. I can become so focused on the business aspect of my work that I get a little stressed. As soon as I see it as the activity I’d most rather do, I look forward to getting back into the studio. When I relax and let myself just have a good time, good things start to happen.

    Reply

    1. Absolutely, Cathy – if you do everything ‘right’ but leave out the joy bit, the art you make won’t be self-sustaining, and won’t be you. Thanks for the comment.

      Reply

  5. Great article…. as usual. One thing maybe would be to look at one’s art as objective as possible, without emotion. Seeing it as a cold product. This may take time and reducing our emotional reaction. Put the love into it but take the emotions out, almost as a science.

    Reply

    1. Interesting, Adam, as I’m sure many creatives will have an issue with taking the emotion out of your product. However, I think you’re onto something when you talk about cutting out the unnecessary emotions and including the relevant ones. Thanks!

      Reply

      1. shut up no one wants to hear you

        Reply

  6. […] Why no one likes your art: 26 reasons from Red Lemon Club […]

    Reply

  7. Wow, this is a really great, meaningful list. It’s things that I’ve thought about a lot; things that I haven’t, but should have; and some really brilliant insights into the art & design world. Thank you!

    Reply

  8. I discussing same last night with a very successful artist who lives in my town and you mentioned ALL the points we discussed. Do you think a mentor is a good idea to help one fine tune these things? It isn’t easy to be as objective as I think one needs to be when fine tuning style/ weeding out bad work from good and knowing how/where to reach a wider market or who that even is!

    Reply

    1. Great. Yes, reaching out to people who have previously been successful will be very helpful, as long as you don’t use the word ‘mentor’ when approaching people for help, as this implies a lot of work and time given up over the long term!

      Reply

  9. […] You Don’t Do Much Else Interesting and 25 Other Reasons Why No One Likes Your Art […]

    Reply

  10. I’ve read the headline and at first I thought I will skip this article, but it was useful as all your articles. Many well thought of points and areas to improve. I especially struggle with 24th point in my life, but recently I’ve decided what I want to do most and now making separate portfolio to represent my photography. Feeling surprisingly focused, motivated and freed by this decision 🙂 Thanks for great content Alex!

    Reply

    1. It’s so good to hear success stories like this one, Lina – and thanks for reading!

      Reply

  11. […] Mathers: Why No One Likes Your Art: 26 Reasons. Excerpt: “You work hard at creating pieces of art, design, writing, music, song and dance. […]

    Reply

  12. Most excellent advice. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply

    1. Sure thing, Christele!

      Reply

  13. Hi Alex, great article as always!

    My comment relates to point 6: “It lacks consistency”. For me, this is truly one of the hardest things to achieve, and it’s something I struggle with on a regular basis.

    The problem is, I LOVE experimenting with a wide range of disciplines and techniques, meaning my portfolio tends to be a bit of a patchwork. It’s a daunting prospect to have to commit yourself to one approach, particularly when something fresh and exciting beckons!

    Any thoughts?

    Reply

    1. Great thought Harry. Thank you.

      This is a bit of tricky one, because it doesn’t always apply to the outward appearance of the work you create. Many great creatives do indeed produce things that could be seen as entirely different from the previous piece they made.

      Think of Damien Hirst or Tracey Emin.

      In which case, consistency is still important, but is manifested more in what surrounds the product, such as through the types of messages that are being transmitted, or in providing an excellent service, in one’s attention to detail or quality, or attention to a particular ongoing theme, or through the consistency of the promises and decisions one makes within their line of work (all this often based on plenty of experience).

      Consistency also applies to style, and this would serve more function in perhaps illustrators or painters or musicians (well, most creative work!), especially those starting out. In this case, think of Quentin Blake – I’m sure he would have been virtually unknown had he strayed to working in paint or computer graphics or tried different techniques early on, rather than honing his signature ‘messy’ ink style.

      You need to think about consistency in terms of who it is you are aiming your work towards. Can your prospects/buyers/fans as a WHOLE live with inconsistency in your style, especially early on in your career, or will varying your style make you more invisible? A lot of artists making a range of work in different styles and media have often already achieved fame and/or notoriety and so can afford to widen their coverage.

      Experimentation, and expanding your knowledge of disciplines and widening your skillset is absolutely spot on and encouraged. This is especially true if consistency in the things beyond how your product ‘looks’, remain important (like your message), as I talked about before. But be aware, that for the sake of clarity in your product, this might simply be work undertaken within the sphere of ‘hobby’ or ‘fun’ or just learning.

      Having a solid body of work in an obvious style, that is sufficiently different to the rest, is the priority, if you are trying to stand out and have a commercially viable product. Again, it does depend on the line of work you are in and how well known you are.

      Based on this understanding, you are the best person to make the decision.

      Reply

      1. “Some things need switching off in order for your own creative spark to flourish long enough to ignite into fire.” This is the most true thing I’ve read in months. Thanks!

        Reply

        1. thanks, Anko, nice point!

          Reply

  14. This is a great post. So many of these ideas I try to teach to my art students, but have to be careful with the way I present them. Would you mind if I printed this for my high school art students (soon to be college art students) to read?

    Reply

    1. Thank you Cheryl, yup – it would be a pleasure!

      Reply

  15. The title of this article made me laugh because I’ve been asking this question to myself for a few years. Research I think is a huge part of being a modern artist. Because of the internet, I started to wonder why some artist on instagram or Facebook had thousands of followers yet I had never heard of them before. Then I started to research why? It brought me in to a whole new perspective of being an artist in todays world. Thanks for putting this list together and these ideas in to perspective.

    Reply

    1. I think when you touched on ‘research’, you uncovered something very important, Noel – thanks!

      Reply

  16. Helpful tips for evaluating where I am with art, and where I want to go. After years of working to develope some drawing skill, the nagging question “Now, what?” echoes in my mind. This article is a welcome guide. The issues revolve around the artist, the art, and the market. All are related, and some are more closely intertwined such as 6, 10, and 12. Thanks. You provide an invaluable service to those who’ve squandered there art school tuition elsewhere.

    Reply

    1. Thank you Tzod – that definitely inspires me to write more 🙂

      Reply

  17. This article couldn’t have come at a better time! Thank you so so much for this.

    Reply

  18. I have to take issue with #22 for a couple of reasons. First of all, I feel like my personal life is that, my personal life. Now I’m supposed to invite strangers into my world of burlesque parasailing over waterfalls? In essence you could change #22 to “be cool and make sure everyone else knows it”. If I knew I had to be cool to be successful, I would have never chosen illustration, I would have been Angelina Jolie.

    Reply

    1. ah but perhaps you are confusing ‘cool’ with other options of things to do outside your work, like unusual, quirky, different, inspirational, life-affirming, charitable, caring, and contributing.

      Reply

    2. I think you just proved his point because now you sound so interesting I want to view your art- “burlesque parasailing over waterfalls”. No, this is not a perverted curiosity either! (I hope i didn’t double post this).

      Reply

  19. Loved reading through these. Thanks for being so thorough in listing all these out helping us really evaluate ever aspect of our art and craft and heart behind it all.

    Reply

    1. thank you!

      Reply

  20. you’re SO right…it does take a lot of time to figure out your style, hon your skills and build a following! patience isn’t easy, but necessary!!

    Reply

    1. thanks!

      Reply

  21. Thanks for sharing your insights much appreciated this is my favourite quote from NZ writer Janet Frame it has kept me going…”A writer must stand on the rock of her self and her judgment or be swept away
    by the tide or sink in the quaking earth: there must be an inviolate place
    where the choices and decisions, however imperfect, are the writer’s own, where
    the decision must be as individual and solitary as birth or death. (The Envoy from Mirror City)

    Reply

    1. Thank you Claire – i like this – powerful!

      Reply

  22. Brilliant article, one that i will definitely refer back to again and again. After a huge break in producing large scale paintings, working mainly in photography, Ive hug up my camera temporarily to focus on getting my painting portfolio together. With an exhibition due in August, this article has definitely given me food for thought on the role of a contemporary artist.. as a digital marketing social entrepreneur!!… I look forward to reading more of your articles in this time of development and growth. Best

    Reply

    1. excellent to hear that Wendy!

      Reply

  23. Big one: “You’re mean”…So many artists think that if you do great work you have the right to be a mean person…Rude…But what I have found is that the more successful an artist is, the nicer they tend to be…The truly great ones seem to take even more time than the others to make people feel happy & appreciated…Who wants to buy from a meanie?

    Reply

    1. You’re right Sari. I’ve run into that myself and it seems to me that a dividing line is the classical realism vs. modern art worlds. I’ve met and interacted with hundreds of realist artists like plein air landscape painters, figure painters or studio still life painters and I can honestly say that I’ve never met a mean or rude one. On the other hand, I’ve met quite a few modern artists that seem to be angry with the world and they show it in the way they interact with other people.

      As you said at the very end,”Who wants to buy from a meanie?” Leslie and guests on the Artists Helping Artists radio show have brought that up many times. It appears that art buyers would much rather buy from someone that is nice and friendly, rather than someone that is surly and rude. I’ve bought quite a lot of art, some at art fairs and festivals and I wouldn’t even consider buying from an artist that acts like he has a large chip on his shoulder. As they say, you’ll attract more flies with honey than with vinegar.

      Reply

      1. Love these points, dg and Sari! Work hard and be nice to people! You’re only hurting yourself (and your sales) if you’re a meanie!

        Reply

        1. I think people get too competitive too. Maybe their just so driven to succeed and be the best artist out there that they try to bring other people down. I think for some people, they lose their humbleness and let the compliments get to their head.

          Reply

          1. yes, this is a sort of hubris 🙂

  24. Great article! I recognized earlier versions of myself and also found some points to ponder regarding my current work. Thanks!

    Reply

  25. Really enjoyed this, and I would add that some peeps will not like your work and that’s ok too. The more you expose your work, the more you get to find your tribe. I’m always grateful when people say useful things that help me and I try to find out more from them about what they connected with, so I can keep doing it, or do it better.

    Reply

    1. Thank you Fran!

      Reply

  26. Your articles are so insightful! I always look forward to reading. This really inspires me to re-think what I am doing and why. I think it is time that I follow my passion for making patterns, today! I have just been seeking approval in what I do and trying to hard to “stand out” that it isn’t who I am. Thank you so much Alex! Keep up the great work, both writing and your wonderful illustrations!

    -Lewis

    Reply

    1. Cheers Lewis!

      Reply

  27. I don’t agree completely with #24. I feel that you need to have more than one skill in order to get a job in anything art related these days. Especially as a graphic designer.

    Reply

    1. I’ve been meaning to write a post dedicated to just this issue. Yes, I do agree that having additional skills is great, particularly for employers, and that will certainly increase your value, yet to have a core skill that is outstanding is really important too.

      Reply

      1. Thanks for the quick reply. I do think you make a good point but having a core skill that is outstanding is certainly not easy and can take a long time to develop.

        Reply

  28. Very well said! This would be good to save and read over and over…every few months, there are some great reminders in what you say! 🙂

    Reply

  29. You can be a successful artist without being able to draw, design or conceptualize coherently. And aping the latest fashion is exactly how a style becomes fashionable … hordes of illustrators and ADs live and die by the latest fashion … it’s called being “cool”. This article says some very good things but some of these precepts are non-productive.

    Reply

    1. Thanks Mahendra, good points. As was written, the best art is a step ahead of fashion, on a parallel highway, but the stuff that does not sell is not aided by being of a dated fashion.

      Reply

  30. Doesn’t really matter what people think, what counts is that you do what you love. Following all these points above seems like not following your true self its following what someone tells you. Just do what you love, doesn’t matter if you are popular or not, this is bullshit. Don’t change yourself for people to like your art as long as you are true to your self and your art don’t be afraid to show what you got inside, be confident. And it doesn’t matter what is around you, its whats inside you that matters, that way you will affect the exterior not let the exterior affect you. Don’t do work for money first, do it with passion.

    Reply

    1. Thanks Daniel!

      Reply

  31. […] son mis top 5, les dejo aquí el artículo completo para que lo lean, tiene 21 razones más que vale la pena digerir, me gustaría saber cuál les […]

    Reply

  32. […] Read the full list of 26 reasons […]

    Reply

  33. Faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahbulously written and applicable to any medium or creative art. Sharing the heck out of it.

    Reply

  34. um excuse me like wat
    u tell me 2 have a passion but then u tell me 2 not take it 2 seriously like
    wat u tryin 2 tell me? idk wat u mean like

    wat 2 i just tell me passion 2 fuck off for a while when im drawin cause cant take that shit 2 seriously

    Reply

    1. haha

      Reply

  35. Great article! I think you hit the nail on the head with the first two reasons. Refining the message of your artwork to cater to an audience is very improtant in order for it to receive the appreciation it deserves. Also, if you don’t mind, we referred to this post of yours in one of our articles about how artists can create a clear and understandable message in their artworks. Here’s the link in case you’re interested: http://portprep.com/wp/2014/07/improve-clarity-artworks-10-resources/

    Reply

  36. Oh hmmmm i like that . .. i may be seeking approval. Quit trying and simply do. Letting go is a daily practice ….maybe add getting out of your head too .. i think too much. Thanks for this article I will read it again. 🙂

    Reply

  37. This is great, it’s important to know when you’re still in “practice mode” or when you’ve finally created your own style and refined your skills. Not every “so-so” painting needs to be shared on Instagram.

    Reply

  38. Well most of these things do apply to me…and as you said, it is strangely refreshing to be able to pinpoint WHY my work/career is not right where I want it to be, and it’s not simply that my work irredeemably sucks! Thanks for this great article!

    Reply

  39. fabulous list thanks, I can see myself in many of them. My work is not at ‘that’ stage yet. 🙂

    Reply

    1. Good things, Cecilia – keep making that art!

      Reply

  40. Well written article. I arrived here asking the question why no-one likes my works. I now need to work on 14 of the points. Thank you.

    Reply

    1. 🙂 let us know how you are doing

      Reply

  41. Good points [however, lately I’ve noticed that the best way to succeed as an artist or blogger is to peddle advice as to how to succeed].

    The much bigger problem is not people not liking someone’s art, but, rather, getting exposure and making money off of it.

    If people really don’t like it, there’s also the possibility, which you didn’t mention, that people don’t like it because, well, it’s actually good, has a spark of originality (unfamiliarity), is a bit challenging, and says something. People hated Stravinsky’s “The Right of Spring” when it was first performed. People mocked Impressionism and Post Impressionism, as well as Abstract Expressionism when they emerged. Many of the best novels were rejected repeatedly by publishers and panned by critics.

    If you want your art to be liked by everyone, then you need to make safe work, that may have a unique tidbit that’s useful for branding, but is otherwise painfully unoriginal and preferably trite. When catering to the lowest common denominator, you have to strip off content and substance and
    reduce your message to a superficial, but pleasant, peace of fluff.

    What is more important that everyone else liking your art is if YOU actually like it. Are you finding in it what you were searching for. Is making it intrinsically rewarding? Unless you are wanting to be a commercial illustrator, which is a completely different matter than being an artist who is true to his or herself FIRST.

    attached is my latest piece.

    My art blog: http://artofericwayne.com/

    Reply

  42. the author of this piece needs some English lessons….to know how to convey thoughts without reverting to his street-wise common language.

    Reply

    1. let’s have an example, Helen!

      Reply

  43. My problem isn’t that people don’t like my art. It’s that they don’t buy it. I get major compliments from friends and strangers alike, but no one buys. I’ve even won a couple of awards at juried shows. Recently, my notecards and prints have begun to sell, but not the originals. I thought maybe I had priced them too high, but others tell me they’re priced too low. They say I devalue my art by not asking a higher price, but then I think that if they won’t buy it at a lower price, why would they pay more for it? I’m to the point where I’m almost ready to just say, ok, I’m just a talented amateur – not a professional artist.
    BTW – Why does this site not allow me to sign in with my artist identity? I am both a writer and an artist and it chose my writer identity for this post and I couldn’t figure out to change it.

    Reply

    1. not sure about the sign in issue Nancy – that’s something to ask the guys at Disqus I think!

      Keep pushing your work out there Nancy

      Reply

  44. What an awesome article, thank you for putting your thoughts down in such a structured and digestible way! I’ve bookmarked this and will consult it often. I find it especially useful as I’m currently in the process of moving from ‘making art only for myself’ to ‘making art to make a living’ and that does require some thought given to all of these points to make sure I’m not shooting myself in the foot or getting in my own way.

    Reply

    1. Hi Iris, my pleasure!

      Reply

  45. This may take you 15 minutes or so to read but we’ll worth it. I was pleasantly surprised I’ve learned and applied most of the suggested tips in this article over the years and they are all great reminders.

    Reply

    1. great to hear that Steve!

      Reply

  46. I love the catch 22 of “you have to be known, to get known.” The article is dead on on this! People have to feel like that it is “ok” to like your work, and the do this by seeing that other people like your work! I have gotten jobs, just from a recommendation, without having to show a single piece of art-but good luck going into an agency cold!

    Reply

    1. Spot on Steven

      Reply

      1. Good story, and thanks for responding! Wish you luck on your illustration work! 🙂

        Reply

  47. This is just what I needed right at this moment in my life, thankyou. There are many reasons why I think my artwork isn’t working or selling at the moment. I am aiming to be a portrait artist and illustrator and many of these points here have helped me clarify a few things I need to change. Thankyou so much, all of your articles help me and that I am not on my own with this and many other issues just starting out as a creative business! I look forward to all of them!

    Reply

    1. thanks Rebecca! All the best with everything.

      Reply

      1. No problem! Thankyou

        Reply

  48. Ana Wieder Blank April 29, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    I’m sorry, but saying that all contemporary artists are mean is pure grade A bullshit and only shows how little you know about the contemporary art world. Your classical painters don’t matter anymore, their time has passed and they are irrelevant, which is why they have to be nice too survive. Contemporary artists work in an incredibly competitive field and yes there are the bitter ones but most of us are very kind and take time to mentor others and go to each others shows. You need to brush up on your knowledge of contemporary artists and stop posting lies dgcasey0325. All you are doing is reinforcing really harmful stereotypes

    Reply

  49. Benjamin S. Kim May 16, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    I love what I’m doing and I believe that Art is about expressing your idea, thought and etc. But I fully understand and aware about this post which is very helpful. Thank you for posting this.

    Reply