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advice for a female artist

Sometimes while filing ancient email I run across something powerful that I wrote years ago in correspondence with a friend.  That happened to me yesterday and it resonated with me enough that I want to share it.  Maybe this perspective I describe isn’t just about being a female artist, but my suspicion is we especially need to hear it, at a certain moment in our creative lives, especially those that work in traditionally masculine-dominated media.

On 3/23/08 11:16 AM, Karen* wrote:

Dude, can I ask you a question? I have to update my
website to list my projects, but I feel so critical
of everything I've ever done, I don't want to put
anything up. But that's stupid.  But I still feel
that way.  :)
On 3/23/08 12:47 PM, Heather wrote:

I'm actually going through the same thing because
i'm working on this artists talk that i have to give
in a week at my symposium, where i'm supposed to be
"an artist."  It's like, why the heck would anyone
be impressed by X?  (For example, a quickly thrown-
together DS game concept demo using badly-edited
photos of cupcakes and auto parts that I pulled off
the web?)

I think you/me/we/women just have to do some things
(and this may just be various ways of saying the same
thing over and over, plus I'm ranting):
  1. Realize that the quality is there, regardless
    of our perception of it
  2. Practice getting over our self-criticism to see
    what is good from an objective perspective
  3. Know what to highlight and what to ignore
  4. Spin Spin Spin
  5. Realize people WANT to think it's good, to be
    impressed, to look up to us/someone.  So don't
    do anything to disavow them of that desire.
  6. There's always the hidden insecurity behind the
    scenes, with everyone. So it's there. Who cares.
  7. Talk about what is interesting about the work,
    from a completely external perspective.  If you
    were seeing this stuff for the first time, what
    would be interesting about it to you?
On 3/23/08 3:12 PM, Karen wrote:

Oh my god this email is awesome. THANK YOU. I needed this.
I wish this wasn't so hard!

Yeah, that Heather Kelley writes some decent stuff sometimes.  I should listen to her more often.

* All names (except mine) have been changed.

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