Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Frank Discussion

Grab a mug of coffee...this is a long one.

I received a comment on my recent post Hand to Mouth from an anonymous reader. It said...

"Finding your hands and now heads getting a bit stale. I assume you produce for resale on Etsy and as long as there are buyers you make what you can. I imagine a more impactful work would be a collection of many hands/heads in one piece but then you would have to charge more and it may not be as profitable. Aren't you getting bored? Please forgive my frank opinion, I only happened upon your blog due to book reviews. I haven't researched your bio, other work, and only see what you post here. Enough said, everyone has to make a living."

While I do not imagine that the person who wrote this comment is likely to be back to my blog reading this post, I do feel compelled to respond. While I absolutely do make art to sell, I am not the least interested in the philosophy "as long as there are buyers you make what you can." Those of you who have followed my blog over time know that I have had very good success with my Etsy shop. I feel extremely lucky about that and do not take it for granted. If in fact my motivation was as "anonymous" suggested, I would still be making the exact same pieces that originally sold well in my shop when it first opened back in 2008.

My work is often based in series. The number of pieces in each series has varied greatly. I do not stop or start a series based on how well or how poorly it sells. When my creative energy and interest in an idea runs dry, I stop. When I have said what I need to say through the artwork, the series ends.

I thank "anonymous" because this comment gave me the opportunity to review the different series I have created. And because I cannot seem to put up a post without images, I get to share them with you too. So take a walk with me down memory lane...

Solstice Series



Mountain Series

Desert Series


Book Marks

Text Tiles

Zen Series


Making Waves


Anonymous asks "aren't you getting bored?" No way, no how! I am still passionately inspired by these hands and the Making Waves series. And I feel excited about the shift in direction that has become my Headliners series. Hands and heads...they are a big part of what makes us who we are, both as people and as artists.

This comment also has me thinking about "blogland", which I see as a very unique and special world unto itself. It is a place filled with support, reinforcement, compassion, and positivity. This world is often far removed from the "real" art world, especially in NYC where I live. All anybody has to do to get a sense of this is to watch the critiques from one episode of Bravo's "Work of Art."

Needless to say, I think most comments we all receive can be characterized as positive. That is true for myself too. I have on occasion read comments left on a few other blogs that were mean spirited and personally insulting and usually the blogger responds with a post. I will admit that I was initially taken aback by reading the above comment left for me, as it is so unusual for comments to be critical. However, I do not consider it negative at all. "Anonymous" has every right to feel that my work "is a bit stale." This is just one person's opinion. And in fact, that this comment has led to this posting and an opportunity for discussion is nothing but a good thing.


ScrapAddict said...

I appaude your frankness and ability to take "anonymous" in stride. Criticism always represents an opportunity to reflect and grow. How unfortunate, though, that "anonymous" felt compelled to be .....well....anonymous.

Holly Dean Artist said...

Well said Seth. As artists we follow our own creative journey. It doesn't really matter what others think... we express what is inside us and we are so lucky to be able to do so. Through blog-land we get to reach out and connect with others and for the most part I have found this experience to be a positive one. And even if a comment isn't so positive, it can cause us to take a look at where we have been and where we are going. Loved your look back along memory lane. Thanks!

Leslie Avon Miller said...

WELL, well, well. Its unfortunate that being anonymous somehow makes it easy to be critical. Would an identified commenter leave such a comment? Perhaps. But probably not. I think you get my drift.

That being said, constructive criticism can be very useful. For me to accept such feedback I would first have to see the critic as someone with great credibility in my eyes, and I would still take what they say with a big grain of salt. And, frankly I invite such critique from time to time. I would never give an anonymous critic credibility or power in my life.

Its clear Seth, that you have not taken this comment to heart. You seem to be calmly addressing what this person said, and allowing us to see your progression of work over time. Hurray for you! Series work is powerful. It allows us to really explore a subject and to get to a place with the work that we would not have without that focus.

I love what you said "I do not stop or start a series based on how well or how poorly it sells. When my creative energy and interest in an idea runs dry, I stop. When I have said what I need to say through the art the work ends."

I'm glad you addressed this Seth. Hit and run commentators could cause some damage on the blogging highways if we let them.

Create on Seth, as I know you will. Thanks for posting about this.

Dawn said...

good for you! i probably would have felt a little like i got slapped in the face!

Luthien Thye said...

well written post seth :) i have followed you ... not from the beginning but from somewhere around the middle.. from the pics you showed. now i am intrigued by the series that i have yet laid eyes upon .. and will soon be visiting them :) and i thought i had seen most of your work!! this comment from anonymous has sparked new life in your old work and i'm sure some of your newer followers would be doing what i am gonna do ... visit your older works :) the universe works in queer ways ... things happen for a reason ...

having said that ... anonymous could have phrased his/her comment in a better way, even if it's a critical one. manners ... manners!

Brian K said...

I always find it is very interesting these folks who love to be critical are always "anonymous". They said they had only stopped by your blog recently. I personally find your work very inspiring and original. Did they happen to look at your work in the past three months, six months??? How varied and wonderful your work is! Criticism is good, when it is constructive and not mean spirited. I look forward with excitement to every one of your posts, it is the reason it is on the top 10 of my most frequent blog spots I visit.

Keep creating Seth!

Teresa Abajo said...

Unbelievable! Why someone would try to ruin this wonderful, encouraging world we call Blogland is beyond me. I'm proud that you've taken it the way you have Seth - you're a far better person than I, who would have hit the delete button immediately and not given 'anonymous' the time of day!
Never, ever change Seth - there are too many people who love you just the way you are.

BT said...

How bizarre! I would never leave such a critical comment on any blog. If I felt I needed to be critical in a positive way, I would certainly be honest enough to leave my name. Cowardly I call it. You have taken it very well, but I tell you I wouldn't have!! I love your work, as do your readers of course, or we wouldn't be here. Keep on keeping on and your success proves you are doing what you should be doing. Hurrah for Seth!

Michelle said...

Despite the tone of her(his?) words, I can't help but understand her point of view (not about your art but her feelings in general).
I think it's extremely difficult to find sucess in the art world. She said she found you in a book review, so I imagine she came to your blog looking to see "what the buzz is about". What you were doing and how you were doing it well (which is a compliment in itself).
But, in her/his defense, I often see people peddling things that really make me wonder. Is it really creative? No. Is it orignal? No. Does the price reflect the materials and labor? No. And it makes me sad for people who work very hard to make what they make, and get lost among the sea of infinate etsy crap.
And granted we could argue art for arts sake. We could argue that people can do what they want.
But my point is, while she/he could have been kinder, she/he admits to not knowing your work well. While it seemed very accusitory, I assume (and you know what they say about assuming) that she/he was just questioning your process due to some insecurities. You don't seem worried, and I'm glad to see that.

Sarah said...

Hats off to you Seth for addressing this anonymous commenter. You cant make everyone happy, but you can make yourself happy by creating whatever you like creating. Because at the end of the day, no matter what we create, as long as you are happy, thats what counts, not trying to create to make other people happy.

Julie Prichard said...

oh man.. no anonymous comments in Luggeville..not allowed. I figure if anyone wants to play anonymous with me they better get ready for a response.

LOVE YOUR ART, SETH..all of it.

Sharmon Davidson said...

I agree that any criticism should be viewed as an opportunity for reflection and growth. Personally, I sometimes wish the comments were a little more honest, so I could benefit from viewpoints other than my own. You've taken advantage of this anonymous comment by using it as an opportunity to consider your own feelings about where you are as an artist. You are the only one who can decide if you've finished a series or brought an idea to its final fruition. I guess what I'm trying to say is that if someone's comment makes us think, it's good, even if the words themselves seem negative. I have really enjoyed seeing all your different series; thanks for sharing them!

Mary Helen-Art Saves Lives said...

Seth...critique without information is just a form of description of materials and techniques employed in this particular work. The examination of your motives and particular techniques is a gift in a way of communication. I do not witness a boredom in your series...the opposite is the fact in my opinion. I know putting our sacred marks "out there" is like walking in a room totally naked with all our physical flaws visible for the world to see... stand tall are on the journey! Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

layers said...

This is very interesting- art is so subjective and personal-- one person's turn on is another person's turn off- I have not noticed any sort of staleness or repetition at all-- I believe completely in working in a series and it is wonderful to see all your different series' here-- keep doing what you do so well!

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

Like you, I know when my art is getting stale and I need to make a change. I've never felt that with your art, but art is subjective.

It's too bad anonymous chose to focus on what was in front of his/her own eyes rather than an entire body of work. When I choose my blog of the day, if I don't know the artist's work, I go back at least five pages, maybe more, depending on how many posts there are per page. It's too bad the author didn't bother having a good look around before posting what I considered to be a rather hurtful statement.

However, I am super delighted that I live in America, where people are allowed to say what they think, and censorship is not allowed. I commend you for publicly bringing this to our attention. You could have dismissed the post or thrown it in the trash and no one would have been the wiser. Your actions show what a class act you really are.

On another note, I tried to send you an e-mail and my e-mail account seems to be corrupted in some way because I am now unable to send messages. I wanted you to know I told my friends and followers about your giveaway on Tuesday.

Gina said...

beautifully tackled ....

Kelly Kilmer said...

Seth, your work is not stale. It is fresh and you. You have a unique STYLE that shines through in your work. Your words are just as eloquent and well versed as your art is...don't let the trolls get you down.

ArtPropelled said...

Eish! Seth you have handled the negative comment so graciously and it feels like you are answering for all of us. The only negative comment I have received was an anonymous one and though it did make me sit up and think (and learn from it) it did leave a bad taste in my mouth.
Carry on creating your wonderful work and series. I love it!!!

stregata said...

Love the way you handled this! It is a bit odd that the more negative comments often seem to be left by anonymous persons. Wonder why they are not willing to stand behind their words?

Debrina said...

Here here, Seth! You know, I figured this out a long time is terribly subjective and interst can be fleeting, fickle and unreliable.

I think you have done an amazing thing by generating consistent sales in this competitive market. I think that also says a lot about you as an artist and a marketer and as a business man. More importantly, all your fans, myself included, understand that what you produce comes from a deep pool of creative energy, curiosity and instinct. Your work is inspiring BECAUSE of these factors, and it is because of these factors that I regard your work as more than just a commodity. Your fans love you for that and we also know you for that.

Sylvia Ballerini Jewellery said...

Seth, I haven't been in Blogland for all that long compared to others. Although there have been occasions when your work does not call/appeal to me, I can appreciate the thought, content, process and the sharing and I would not state that your work is stale, no way! Each of us marches to our own drum beat and whether others can follow the rythmn, find the step, become in sync, whatever, it is irrelevant. Artists don't produce work to rake in the dollars, that is a plus. Artists use a particular medium to allow their core to blossom and grow and to put forward a pespective. It's great that you have not allowed Anonymous to dampen your spirit. Every success to you.

dining room tables said...

Those stuffs are so amazing. Why they are trying to destroy it. I wish I can do anything just to stop them and save those amazing thing.

Andrea C said...

great work and if it sells that means that other people appreciate it too as with all art each to their own we all love different things or it would be a very dull world x

Sue Brown said...

One negative comment out of lots and lots of positive feed back, yet it is always the one that gets to us. It stirs up our deep insecurity, it is the comment we hear because as creative people with sensitivity we are never so confident that we think we are doing it well enough.
This person must have a half empty glass, when we artists have half full glasses which we top up all the time.

Everyone has a right to their opinion, we can think what we like, but opinions do not have to be constantly aired unless what we are commenting on is illegal, immoral or fattening!!

Coffee Messiah said...

An interesting post and response.

But, despite that, to receive a contrary opinion certainly balances all else.

Sometimes, I've received a comment that the person does not understand my collage. I do not take it personally, but certainly want anyone looking at it, to see :what they see" which is why I never try to name them.

I'm sure you did not take it personally, and nice that you explained why you do what you do.

In the end, balance is good, even if it appears to be a negative response.

Onward and upward! Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm....I think you're more evolved than I am, and I really respect the way you've chosen to respond to the criticism. You took a negative and turned it into a thoughtful piece and started a lively discussion here.
Having said that, the one thing that does bore me is a less than glowing comment that is posted anonymously. I have one word for that: cowardly.

And I've never felt your series were repetitive; nothing tired or boring about them at all. In fact, the main thing I've felt whenever you've posted a piece using the hands or heads is jealousy....because you found all those cool artifacts to create with, and I have none. Boo hoo.

I suppose we can be grateful for anything that spurs intelligent talk, but still....anonymous????


Kimber said...

Good response Seth.
I really like how you took this comment.
It's hard to overlook criticism of our art because it is so very personal, others can't always understand where it comes from.
I always say, when I hear something like this - nobody knows about inspiration...

Curio said...

In my opinion, good or bad, anonymous comments should not be heard at all. If one needs to remain faceless/nameless it only points to the insecurities inherant in the commentator. I believe anonymous comments should automatically get caught in the World Wide "Web", never to be heard or read by persons who, like yourself, put themselves out there for all the world to see.

Everything that can be said about your work has been previously stated by the many commentators (whose names are attached for all the world to see)so I won't restate the obvious.

However, I would like to say that I have rarely seen so generous a blogger and artist. I don't know how you keep doing what you do, i.e. The Pulse and The Book Guild, to name just two of your special projects.

Seth, I hope you focus on all the positive reinforcements you attract rather than "anonymous", a person who couldn't even attach their name to their own comment.

MrCachet said...

Well, you woke up a bunch of us with that one! I haven't been around long enough to get flamed yet, but I suppose sooner or later I will. Of course I don't have an ETSY shop either, but mr. anonymous freely admits he was doing book reviews and stumbled into your 'web'.

Criticism, unless it is self-criticism, is a SUBjective process. I know you've been juried before, so you understand whereof I speak.

Look at it this way - you felt compelled to show us how diverse you are in choosing your creative path, and I for one had never looked far enough back to see all of it.

Now I have! Take his critique with a grain or two of salt, after all, he remains anonymous!

Kathryn Dyche said...


While we are all entitled to our own opinions I don't believe that your work is stale at all. When I visit your blog I feel the love and connection you have with your pieces and believe that shines through.

I've also been watching the Work Of Art on Bravo and it's been interesting to see the critiques.

So far I've only put myself out there online with regards to my artwork and have had such warm wonderful feedback but I'm sure in person I would experience a wider range of feedback, including critiques.

Art has a way of invoking feelings in people whether they love it or hate it . . . I guess it's better that they feel something than nothing at all right?

It can hurt when someone doesn't like you're creations but I realize that everyone has such a personal connection with art and that there are so many different styles out there that you're not going to appeal to everyone and that that's ok. I do my art for me first and for others second.

Keep up the great work.

lyle baxter said...

seth, good job! what an opportunity to discuss your take on the "anon" comment. however, I am with the person that wants "anon" comments caught in the worldwide web and held for eternity. as a "seth" collector I am annoyed that someone with no guts should get such attention! If you cant put your name behind your words you shouldnt be heard!"You're a better man than I , gunga Din"


Harnett-Hargrove said...

I appreciate an artist that create a body of work until all the possibilities a re exhausted! -J

Suzanne said...

Seth, I admire you and I think that you have handled this with good grace. Your work is utterly beautiful, and if you were to make the same thing again and again and again (not that you do), what business would it be of anyone else? There are some people who ctitise rather than do, I am intrigued to know what "anonymous" does. The support you have received shows that blogland on the whole is an amazing and supportive place, hold on to all that positivity.

Nettie Edwards said...

You just can't win, can you Seth? As an artist who is still trying to figure out how to get my career back on the tracks and earn a crust, following a serious illness, I can see that we have to wear two hats: a commercial one and,a more personal one. If the two happen to come together at certain time, great! People are very happy to accept that shops touting masses of same-old, same-old mass-produced tripe & hackneyed imagery but when an artist follows through a motif in a series of individual, unique works, they're somehow betraying their creativity and it provokes complaint. The verification word for this comment is SCROTE: a slightly rude word for "testicles", over here in the UK, which is what I shall name "anon" as they have not had the courage to identify themselves!

*jean* said...

if anonymous was really interested in anything other than being a snot, s/he would have left a name instead of just a cowardly remark....i liked seeing your other series work though...and i love the little hands & heads...they are my favorite

Pam Carriker said...

It's unfortunate that some feel the need to post comments of this nature, especially while remaining nameless. I have had a similar experience and think that addressing it in this way is a good thing. Hopefully they will see it and realize that the words they type are going to a live person, one who shares his/her innermost soul through their art. To say that you're creating merely for selling potential is laughable and to speak with authority about someone they admitted to following only recently? They obviously do not know you or your work and could use a lesson in blog manners:-)
The more you put yourself 'out there' the more people feel they have a right to critique you, so let me congratulate you on your obvious success Seth! You Rock!!!
love ya!

Jacky said...

It's funny how these negative type comments are usually "anonymous".
Obviously you have made positive of this negative...great post, great blog and fabulous art. As they say, its all in the eyes of the beholder.

Jacky xox

Lisa said...

Very appropriate response though I always find it interesting that these folks who spout off negative criticism about others work don't even have the backbone to own their comments and identify themselves...makes their comments unfounded. Thanks for the trip down memory lane and bringing out the best for us to enjoy!

Mosaic Magpie said...

I have to wonder, first why does someone leave an anonymous comment. If you aren't speaking from your heart, why say it? And if you are speaking from your heart, why not put your name on it.
Secondly, when someone leaves a negative comment, what is gained by it? Especially when it is someone elses art work they are commenting on. This not an issue that demands a comment. If you don't like it, to each his own. Artist are expressing what comes from their soul and if it makes a buck or two, great. Seth, keep up the good work, and I hope you make a buck or two along the way.

ooglebloops said...

There are always critics- obviously "anon" was not aware of your previous work, or not understanding the concept of a series. The one positive out of the negative is that you posted links to your past series - so we could all see them again!!!Your response to "anon" was perfect and polite!!!
As for the show "Work of Art" I was so looking forward to it - and was very disappointed at how the artists' works were criticized and torn apart, by so called experts. I won't watch it again.

Beanie Mouse said...

There are also artists such as myself that create for the sake of creating and don't make a penny off it but other people still find it good to look at. A regular income comes from a regular job....! Well it does on Planet Me anyway!

Alyice Edrich said...

The positive is that you created a post that showcased your past works. It was so neat to see, and to get an inside look at your creative process for your series. :)

Unknown said...

There are so many reasons, other than commercial, to work in a series. I'm glad that your response illustrated that!

Laura said...

The critique process is an important aspect in working as an artist, so one must accept this as an artist. The public will always respond, possibly judge, and buy/or not buy art.
I responded to your work because of my preference for contemporary art. I also responded to your work because you are working as a fine artist; not cranking out the same piece each time. Historically, America had a contemporary art movemnent, whereby artists were experimenting with themes, materials, and honest expression. I see your work as part of a vibrant historic art movement.
As far as the hand goes; remember Marcel Duchamp's litrine? Or the fur-lined teacup? These pieces evoked a sense of outrage, but also a curiosity behind the intention of the artist. A dialog was created; good, bad, interesting or confusing. This is the purpose of art, as I see it; to move people out of their pre-conceived notions of most everything, and stimulate conversations, thinking, and responding with their own questions.

Parabolic Muse said...

Hi, Seth. How are you? I am fine. But as usual, I'm way late visiting my blogs and am way late in commenting. I haven't read the other comments, but I have to wax philosophic, here.

What the F***?

I find this annoying as hell. The most annoying thing about it is that anyone would ASSume that you are producing work under the consideration of the sellability of it. It is clear to anyone with eyes and sensitivity that you have PASSION for what you do. Your style is consistent and has strong integrity.

I realize you do not harbor resentment toward 'anonymous' because you are a groovy guy. However, my second thought was that this person could have sent that comment to any of a dozen artists whose works do well on etsy due to a unique, recognizable style and a consistent foundation of personal truth.

Thank you for offering a review of your work. It never tires me to see it. However, I for one have it etched upon my visual memory because of its striking uniqueness.

I have to go; boring myself.

Bill said...

Wow. It makes you wonder what unhappy lives people like that must be living. They have to criticize others to make themselves feel like they are worth something. I don't even know you, but feel your blog is a constant source of encouragement. I love seeing how something simple like a single hand can take on a life by becoming a small sculpture with a story of its own. A series of a subject is even more interesting, because each piece is part of a larger whole, a larger story. Believe me, if money weren't so tight right now, I'd be buying your work even though I'm capable of creating my own. Sharing the life of a fellow artist is always wonderful!

Your friend in blog land,

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm well we do live in a country of free speech. But with that being said I will say there is a place for critique, but not being nasty!!! I could also take my crap, put it in a beautiful box, wrap it with extraordinary wrapping paper and nice ribbon.Give it with all that crap energy I have. NO WAY!!! When I speak or leave comments I keep that in mind. I don't necessarily think what would I like to hear or how would I like to be treated but rather what kind of gift am I consciously giving?

So all I have to say is this is not your carp, it's owned by anonymous, period!

theresa martin said...

You have a great attitude about this comment. It's a subtle process to work in a series of artworks and it takes contemplation and time to study. Not gonna happen when people spend one to two seconds on a page and don't take the time to absorb the process that is being offered. Glad to see it didn't get you down. Enjoyed the review of the different series in this post.

Penelope said...

Oh I know the kind of person anonymous is. Called a troll in most parts of internetland, she/he's the sort who cruises around distantly, scoffing at others work in a cynical manner, not bothering to research and proof him/herself wrong. How COULD s/he be wrong after all, he has seen right through your sad efforts to the truth! *cue eye roll*

People like anonymous are to be comforted, because deep down they resent the fact that people like you and I have a success with the product of our natural talents. Imagine how frustrating it is for anon to live in a world where for all these years people have told him/her that living your dream isn't practical. And yet here we all are, pumping out star juice. How DARE we flaunt the status quo? How dare we unfold our own myth!?


Evangeline said...

I find the way that you work in series, exploring each idea in various ways to be inspiring, the complete and exact opposite of stale.

Watching Bravo's "Work of Art" makes me cringe (of course I am compelled to keep watching it!). It makes me want nothing to do with being an "artist"...pretentious, over complicated and so competitive. I think I am very fortunate to have found this blogland community, with all the mutual support and acceptance. It is a beautiful thing.

Mary said...

oh good grief!! this is your art, you get to make what you want, when you want, and how much you want - anytime!!!

lynne h said...

ha! someone may write to me and ask if i'm bored with painting faces yet. ; )

mansuetude said...

Ha, there you are! You are beautiful!

there are so so many people in the world, we wouldn't invite most of them over for a glass of wine to discuss our latest epiphany or excitement.

but we do learn so much out here, no?

Anne Huskey-Lockard said...

Hey Seth,

I have loved looking at your wrok--I have not had a lot of time to read lately but the photo that is always up on my dashboard catches my attention and thatbeing said, is what art is supposed to do!
Per anyone leaving an annon. remark. My opinion? They are either:

A. Extremely Jealous
B. Extremely Frustrated and connot produce art
C. Extremely Mean and spineless to stand up and say what they want under a real name.

Blogland, 99.99% of the time, is a wonderful place to be.
I think the heat has brought the creeps out this year.
Keep doing what you're doing...your work speaks volumns.

Anne, who could care less what anyone thinks of her work. Nope, too old! ;D

Joanie Hoffman said...

Good for you, Seth. You are too cool.
Happy days,

Mary S. Hunt said...

taking a comment such as was left well or not is of course the sign of the personal development of the artisan
where you are in your person

leaving a comment as such is also a sign of that persons personal growth
where they stand in person...

bravo seth!

~*~Patty S said...

You are not only a VERY talented and gifted artist Seth, but a most gracious one as well!

that comment was a waste of space in my view ... a got up on the wrong side of the bed kind of spewing ... and anonymous no less

people are strange ... I am glad that our mixed media realm here in blogland is for the most part uplifting and supportive

great art in review round up ... I'm going back for another look!
Rock On!!!

Four Seasons in a Life said...

Greetings dear Seth,

Having read your post and pondered a bit , I then dove right in and began reading the comments left by fellow readers.

I for one appreciated you tackling this person comment head on and with grace. My first critical observation is that the "anonymous" voice elected to be anonymous, something that bother me.

The decision to leave a critical comment about someone else's work is never an easy decision for me and I feel like I am walking a tightrope, hoping that it would not be misunderstood.

Sometimes it has backfired and I wish I just held my tongue. However in most cases it has been well received.

There were a few readers comments feeling that criticism should not be part of the blogesphere and I feel there is too much gratuitous comments that does not help the artist see their work in another angle.

Personally I prefer honesty. Having another view point that addresses a specific matter, followed by a possible suggestion, I find priceless.

Well there you have my two cents as they say.

Wishing you all the best ,

thekathrynwheel said...

Well said. It is interesting that these comments always come from 'anonymous' isn't it? I always say ' if you don't like what's on my blog then don't look'. Simples! Good for you to take it on board and turn it into a positive.
Personally I love heads and hands, and I love what you do.
(I was recently given vintage rubber glove moulds for my birthday - life-sized dismembered hands!! Perfect!)
Just keep doing what you do :-)

lyle baxter said...

"and on the morning of the second day" I came back and read more comments. I guess you know where you stand and that the army is behind you! and Mr. Anon must know where he stands too - behind the 8 ball! good going !

~*~Patty S said...

I am back too Seth ... had to share this quote that came my way today:

"I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet."

-- Mahatma Gandhi

Have a great weekend !

Don Madden said...

I just figured you would quit making hand pieces when you ran out of hands. And then you'd do something else. Hey, Anonymous: So what? MYOB, which doesn't seem to include an understanding of the artistic concept of "working in a series".

Cynthia Monica said...

Dear Seth, I really hope "anonymous" has read all the comments and may come to realize that leaving negative words on a blog is really unkind, and just maybe he/she will have learned from this experience....At any rate I give you kudos for "turning lemons into lemonade", so to speak, as it is obvious how many wonderful people are out there in the blogosphere...your work is amazing and it was a joy to see some pieces I had missed in your review.

Anonymous said...

While I don't agree with the anonymous critique of your work, I can relate to wanting to tear into another artist's work that really irritates me. I think it's just being passionate about art. Good for you for taking the crit with grace.

Susan M said...

Wrong as I think the comment was, I don't think that posting as "Anonymous" is that bad of a thing to do (excluding of course, comments that are inflammatory, obscene, racist, etc.)

After all, if you knew a name and saw a picture, what good would it do you? The person would still be unknown to you and everyone else, except for the opinion they expressed. And we all might be guilty of jumping to conclusions about Anonymous, who they are or what they meant.

A person who posts anonymously doesn't let you form your denial or acceptance of their opinion by delving into their online persona. Instead, it forces you to take the anonymous comment at its face value, right or wrong. There's no chance to rationalize your gut level reaction, no chance to debate, disagree, or agree. It's just an opinion someone took the time to express and therefore has as much or as little value as a signed opinion.

Perhaps Anonymous has previously carefully crafted valid criticisms and posted them with his/her name. And gotten slammed personally because of it.

In the Blog World we are all quick to be supportive and positive and that's why we continue in Blog World. We like to put our work out there and get feedback and validation and feel a part of a community.

But we often are too quick to criticize someone who gives negative feedback. Alas, we want to have our cake and eat it too.

Diane said...

You know Seth, attitude is everything in this world, and without a good and pure one...the world is indeed stale.
I admire how you took this comment, and indeed, I do believe it has turned out for the good.
I knew you were that type of an artist, and for that I am grateful to know you and hope to someday meet you face to face =)

deb said...

Seth, wow I don't read for a moment and while my back is turned THIS!! I am not as nice as so many folks I find here in blogland, I admit to being cynical and judgmental, jaded, and just plain grumpy, but unless I know the artist well enough to send a personal email I try to remember "if you can't say anything nice don't say nothin at all"
You handled this comment with aplomb as I would expect, you are a generous soul.
You know how much I enjoy your blog and your work. Thank you as always for an unexpectedly thought provoking moment in my day.

Lisa H said...

Wow, we ARE a chatty bunch, aren't we? reply to anonymous?


Marilyn said...

Good for you, Seth. True, it is the writer's opinion. However, it seems the comment is "out of text". Has this person been following your work over the past few years? Does this person even know what "series" means? And as Holly says, its "our own creative journey". I do think the comment about selling what you can on Etsy was pretty snide. Oh well, some people aren't happy unless they are being a "realist"!

Lynn Cohen said...

I am not going to read these 69 comments before mine, the many years I am alive on this planet, a good number...but am wondering how a work of art can even seem "stale" to someone who is coming across it for the very first time...and why they would assume that because you have created many things on a theme that it would then be "stale" to you!? They perhaps have never had the joy of being taken by a particular art form and wanted to do it over and over again in a variety of ways. I can relate in my fiber work. First I made a lot of 'pieced' pieces. Then I made some that were more outside the box. And then I got further and further outside the box. And then I made them with a few beads and then with hundreds of beads...and then one with paint and then more with painted fabrics and then the paints spilled over to paper, and then from fabric to paper in book form and then in 'actual paintings' was a process, a learning process...the more I did the more I learned and the more I wanted to do again and again!
As for selling, I say you sell first because you are GOOD, and second because you attract a crowd who appreciates how good you are...and they tell their friends and so on and more come and see and therefor it sells and lucky they who own a piece of a series by Seth the Artist from NYC!
Happy to be #70, as DH says I am now in my 70th thing I will hopefully REPEAT every year of the next nine years of my life!!! ;-) And I am NOT STALE!!!

Val Foster said...

You've handled this situation well Seth, with dignity and honesty. It's kind of hard to know exactly where the person was coming from with such a short, pointed question. He/she should've at least used their name and not been anonymous. That is rather cowardly in my book.

The main thing is YOU are the artist, and you make art the way you feel compelled to, the way you feel it, as an expression of you. That is as it should be, even if it doesn't please everyone or meet their approval or expectations. So many people LOVE your art, which is quite an accomplishment as an artist. And I believe you, that even if they didn't love it, you would continue making art your way. I am one of those who loves your art, and never tires of viewing it, detail by detail.

Also Seth, I'd really like to thank you so much for putting me on your blogroll. I consider it an honor, and you really made my day. Thank you friend.

Jo Archer said...

Just back from holiday Seth and read this. It always amazes when people write such mean-spirited things on blogs. I hope this hasn't knocked your confidence in yourself, because you have plenty of admirers who think your work is fabulous and that you are a lovely, genuine guy.

Keep doing what you're doing.

Oh and did they really use the word "impactful"? Good grief.

Marit said...

You opened up a lively discussion here Seth... and of course I add my thoughts about it here too... first of all: anonymous should have taken a look around instead of commenting immediatly... that's what I would do. Go back to the art, to the former posts and give it another thought before giving critic. Second: I don't see it as a very "negative" comment either - I agree with you on this - but I don't understand the "anonymous". If you are a man/woman enough to say this, then you should give your name too! And third: you always give so much thought to your artwork, the backgrounds, where the idea came from etc. that I don't understand how anyone can think you make it "just to sell".... Have a great weekend Seth! Thanks for posting this, thanks for being in blogland! Love ya!

ian said...

I think the attacks on this commenter for being anonymous are a little over the top. Look at the options available - unless you already have a blog or website, the only options are google account or anonymity. If you see the need for a google account you will probably have one already, but most people won't bother signing up just to make a single comment - and why should we expect them to?

I think many of you are reading a malicious intent that simply isn't there.

As for the substance of the comment, Seth doesn't appear to have an issue with it, and has responded very positively. The commenter has expressed a particular view that the idea behind the work has gone stale. That's a legitimate and understandable view, based as the commenter freely admits purely on what they have seen on the blog. I have had a similar response myself to some artists who appear to be endlessly reworking the same idea, without development.

It is the idea of development that counts here. What the commenter perhaps doesn't appreciate is the way in which most artists explore an idea in many variations, each one developing or changing something. Sometimes those changes don't work in which case you move on to try something else. All of that exploration feeds into our development as an artist however. An idea for years ago may pop up and be reused in a completely new work.

It isn't surprising to me that they see the pursuit of sales behind it. You don't have to look far on the web to see examples of commercialism topping creativity as the myriad examples of giclee reproductions.

What is surprising is that so many people see this as in some way insulting. What is wrong with producing work that people like and are willing to pay good money for? There seems to be a sort of inverted snobbery about being 'commercial' - a bit like the outcry when Dylan went electric. I happen to dislike the idea of limited edition giclee reproduction prints. Others don't and so long as they are open about what they are selling that's fine. It isn't rude however to offer a critical comment.

Seth hits the right note in response. He doesn't agree with the comment and he says why. Which after all is why we put our work up in front of others like this.

[And a footnote - a bug in blogger wouldn't let me post this comment using my normal openID/typepad sign in, which problem appears to be shared by many others so perhaps there are other factors behind the anonymous comment]

Jeane Myers said...

well said Seth! it's not always bad to get a, or what appears to be, a negative comment or a different perception about the work - as artists, we can't hit a positive note with every human on the planet - I think your positive take on the whole thing is a good lesson for all of us - thanks for putting things in perspective :)

Barbara Mason said...

I wonder why anonymous was so unsure of their own ideas as to not post their name. Surely, when one has reason to comment and the fortitude to air their convictions, they should have the good grace to reveal who they are or perhaps they are too embarrassed about their reasoning, feeling it is shaky to not post their name as well as their soul.

Anyhow, we all know artists who work in series or print multiples of their work. It is not stale and the series successful financially or not is part of the ongoing dance we all create as artists to experiment with our ideas until they reach a conclusion that only our hearts & minds can understand.

I hope anonymous has been following this dialogue as it is refreshing to read all the responses as well as your own Seth.

Dede Warren said...

I'm so glad you addressed this comment... and I'm just as glad that anonymous posted it. It's obvious to me why someone posts as anonymous on blog comments... unfortunately when someone has a differing opinion and they voice it, they can often get a backlash for it. When we publish something to our blog, I think it's realistic to expect that there are others that don't agree with what we offer. It also isn't realistic to expect that we will only meet with those who agree with us. So thanks Seth for being willing to hear both compliments and those who feel as "anonymous" does. It's nice to see we are all welcome, and free to express our views what ever they may be.

Dede Warren said...

Oh how I wish you were still making the bookmarks such as the one pictured. I'd never tire of that!

Gaby Bee said...

Keep up your fabulous work, tastes differ :-) Love the way you handled this!

Robert said...

Anonymous criticism requires nothing of the critic. This particular individual admits that s/he is not familiar with your work and then proceeds to question your role as an artist, as well as your artistic endeavors, based on assumptions that are blatantly untrue, proving that "a LITTLE knowledge" certainly "is a dangerous thing!" As others have noted, here, you have taken this negative personal shot from "nowhere" with grace and aplomb, and without dignifying the critique have used the experience as a means of both personal growth and growth within online arts community, as well. In answering this critic, you have, in a way, responded for all of us. Thanks, once again Seth, for all you do. CREATE ON!

Anonymous said...

Seth...I'm a newer follower of your blog and of your work...but I have always been taken with the depth your pieces always show. I too know that once you start on a series or theme you have to let it play out. Some pieces in a series will always be better as will one series vs. another. Growth and expression is what really matters. I'm an Etsy-er myself and am always shaking my head at what I see as I look at the other shops. I also find myself having that self-discussion about "art" vs. "market". I think there is a place for both...finding the balance is the key!

Unknown said...

I am very proud of your attitude about this Seth. Our first reaction to protect ourselves is often the only one we have. But you took the opportunity to think things thru and in the end come away knowing yourself & your art better.
Anonymnity - another of the pros & cons of the internet: I personally am leary of people who will say something and not attach their name to it - there is a lot online now by anonymous people that is blatantly false and there are always people who believe. On the other hand, there are people who are so shy or reserved or withdrawn or even abused that they could never say what they really thought if someone could identify them.
Thank you for taking this criticism in the best light, evaluating it, tossing the false and learning from it.

Kathleen Harrington said...

Hi Seth,

What an interesting discussion. Your response was open, accepting, and explanatory of your process. It's wonderful that there are people of good character in the world. I noticed that Anonymous did apologize for his/her frankness and was willing to be honest. It's hard these days with the influence of "political correctness" for people to be truly open and honest these days because the thought police will jump all over them. So thank you Anonymous for telling us how you really feel.

I have to respectfully disagree with Anonymous statement "I imagine a more impactful work would be a collection of many hands/heads in one piece". What I like about the Making Waves series is the individuality of the hands. Each one has a unique feel to it that, in my opinion, would get lost in a work with many hands or heads in one piece. Each one is a jewel of intimacy.
Thanks for the retrospective, Seth. I hadn't seen your earlier works, so this was a real treat for me.

Rita Vindedzis said...

I applaude your comments and attitude Seth. I also loved the retrospective of your series.

Terry said...

What a joy to get to see the various series represented here - not only the pleasure of seeing favorite works again, but remembering how they connected to my life.

Seems to me that Anonymous wrote sincerely and politely, and while it might be nice to have the chance to chat about his/her response to your work, the reality is that not everyone likes all the art that gets made. Duh! And not only is that okay, its great! It keeps us exploring and expressing and growing. In this case, it let you examine and reconfirm what it is you do. The only part I was sorry about was that Anonymous didn't take the time to look deeply at your overall work, or your bio.
Blogland is a wonderful, supportive environment - but some honest, polite, negative critique is something I value too!
Thanks for sharing this all with us Seth - its good to think about.

alicia said...

you never cease to amaze me, seth. hats off to you! i cannot help but wonder how i would react in a similar situation and i will just say that you are a much more admirable person than i.

more positively, i recall each and every one of these pieces that you've posted and loved the stroll down memory lane. thank you!

Gillian McMurray said...

I am sorry Anonymous felt they had to say such things. Quite why they felt your choice of art style is their concern is beyond me. I really enjoyed the walk down memory lane though. Such a great selection of your work :o)

Craft said...



2.[know]verb has to be between "exactly" and "what".

3. many others! (I'm not a native english speaker, the typeface of the computer is TOO small and I'm tired).