The other day I received an email from someone I didn't know.
I was eating dinner at a restaurant with a friend. We were laughing and talking. My phone made a noise indicating I had a new email so I went in to check it out. It said they thought my art work was disgusting (and a few other things). It took me by surprise that I didn't have thicker skin to absorb the tiny blow. I let it ruin my meal, and I have thought about it many times since.
I have to let it go. I know this. When you put your work out there to sell or just to see, people are going to have opinions. I mean, this isn't the first time someone has said something negative to me about my work. The difference was that those other times, I was soliciting an opinion and it was usually from a fellow artist or a friend. Not all the feedback has been good. But I believe the negative and positive feedback is what helps us to learn and to grow.
I guess it just feels different when that feedback is unsolicited and negative to the point of feeling hateful.
So what have I learned? Well, I guess to not let it bother me so much. After all, it is just an email (not a Molotov cocktail through my bedroom window). But the most important thing is that I will not let the hateful words change my work. Rather, I will keep making art to express and heal, as I always have. And most of all, I will remember that if I ever have that strong of an opinion, I will not bestow it unwillingly on someone I don't know. You never know what's behind an artist's work. You never really know what the inspiration is unless they tell you. And really, that's the beautiful thing about art. It can be whatever the creator or recipient's hearts want it to be.
Oh, and you should never read your email while you're at dinner.