I have been involved in art one way or another my entire life. As a child I used to make my own picture books from random pieces of paper, held together with scotch tape and kept them safe in a box under my dresser, where only I could revisit them, edit them and create more.
As a teenager, I worked a whole summer to be able to pay the tuition for a class about masks and alebrijes (paper maché Mexican folk art, see them at mayrazanza.com) and I started creating my own fantastic creatures. I had dreams of displaying my work to the world, in my own gallery, explaining to the audience the inspiration behind each piece, but I never did, thinking “nobody will actually like your work”.
I also created original characters and comic stories that are safely kept in a plastic bin in my storage, seen by only a handful of people. All those stories have something in common: although I was eager for the world to see my work, I was too self-conscious to actually show it, so most of it I kept to myself.
Because art is so personal to the artist, I wasn’t ready for any negative or not too flattering feedback, so I put everything in a box or worse: after showing it to a group of people and getting the best feedback, if only one person said anything bad about my art, I just stopped.
So there you have it: my biggest mistake as an artist was to take feedback too seriously.
It wasn’t until I read Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray that I found the words of encouragement I needed to hear as a very young artist: “It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors. Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital. When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with themselves.”