But Be Prepared…
Don’t apologize for your art. Someone gave me a button that said, “Never apologize for your art.” I always thought it was a cool button. But beyond the coolness of the new button on my backpack, I think I always had an idea of how profound that statement was. Never as clearly as I do now though.
For the purpose of this post, I’m approaching this primarily from a subject matter angle.
Art is a visual form of communication. It’s an expression of thoughts and ideas. For sighted people, vision is primary among our five basic senses. It not only informs us about the world around us, but it also helps us form very powerful opinions about what we see.
As artists, we aren’t limited to expression by speaking alone. We have the ability to communicate through our art and like the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. In other words, our art has the potential to make a much more powerful statement than words alone.
However, from a legal standpoint in the U.S., expression is protected by the Freedom of Speech Act.
So, don’t apologize for your art, but be prepared because that last bit goes both ways. Yes, you may have a lot of folks who totally vibe with what you create. But you are very likely to get a lot of flak from people who disagree with you. And just as many more who take offense. But just as you are within your rights to express yourself creatively, so too are those who disagree with you. We’re each entitled to our opinions, including your critics. You can defend your work or state where you were coming from when you created it, but don’t apologize for your art.
Look at it this way…you’re entitled to express yourself. Your critics are free to express their opinions as well. Would you demand an apology from someone based on what they feel? Feelings are honest. Sometimes they’re well thought out and sometimes they’re uninformed (what we might call snap judgements). Don’t pretend like you’ve never made one. Uninformed or not, we’re entitled to how we feel.