First off, I want to apologize to folks who visit my space because of the visuals as today's post has no pictures. I also want to thank all of you who stop in here, whether you let me know you're there or not, because time is precious and I appreciate you giving me and my work some of your time and attention.
I've been reluctant to bring this topic up because it's something that, as a person who puts my work in the public eye, I feel I should accept as part of my job. On the other hand, I put an amazing amount of effort, time, and sometimes even sweat into the things I craft that when I'm harshly criticized, I feel hurt and discouraged. By criticism I don't mean someone stating that my work doesn't appeal to them or that they don't feel inspired by the items I create. I think that is totally legitimate and a matter of taste and preference. I realize that I don't design what could be described as traditional quilts and that might not appeal to a lot of folks. I also don't craft one-of-a-kind fiber art, so those people might also be turned off by my work.
What bothers me is when, in the anonymity of the internet(and it is anonymous even if you include your name because the internet is so vast), my work is vilified to the point that I am chastised for even putting it out there.
As I previously stated, criticism comes with the territory. Hell, it comes with just being human, but criticism that has a venomous tone is a lot harder to take and, frankly, unwarranted.
Blog posts like this and book reviews like this:
Wow! Was I ever disappointed in this book. A waste of money. I cannot believe that it states that the author has been in juried shows! Who was she competing with? 2nd graders who had never used a sewing machine before. Her stitching is abhorent and I cannot believe that the publishers allowed this to be published. She uses crappy thread, which creates tension problems on it's own, combined with some real tension problems and no idea of how to top stitch accurately and you have the recipe for homemade disasters. She cloaks her sewing tips in phrases like "improvisational" for all of the mistakes. I sew for precision and hope that none of my projects ever look homemade vs handmade. If I received one of her projects as a gift I would put it directly into my donation bag. If you want to take your sewing to the next level and are looking for inspiration this is not the book for you. Shame on the author and publisher for allowing this to be printed. It is a hot mess!!
I've actually known about that blog post for a while, but thought I'd rise above it and just ignore it, but reading this Amazon customer review of my book this morning made me feel like I wanted to say something.
I am proud of the work I do, the designs I create, and attention to craftsmanship I put into the items I sew. I am also proud to embrace a certain improvisational quality in my work. I know how to square an edge and I have the tools to do so, but I actually like the happenstance and raw energy that's created when edges are left un-squared. I have been sewing and/or quilting for almost 20 years and, though I hope to always seek out new and innovative techniques and materials as well as improve my skills, I have gained a lot of knowledge and expertise from my years of crafting. I am open to constructive criticism and questions that are put forth in the spirit of collaborative learning, but this is not criticism. It's derision. I am also open to anyone just plain not liking what I make. I don't like everything I see others make, but there's a vast difference between saying this doesn't appeal to me and the only way this work could ever receive any recognition is if I was competing with non-sewing 2nd graders. The former is a genuine opinion stated respectfully and the latter is...not.
If this was a phenomena exclusive to me or my work then I think the issue wouldn't merit bringing up, but I see it all over the internet. And the issue isn't whether or not you like a something, but how you state your opinion and whether you've considered the time and effort that went into the creation of that something before you spew forth vitriol rather than an honestly felt and respectful assessment.
I hope that having published two books and written a blog and designed for other publications, I've learned how to frame my criticism of other people's work so that it comes from a good place. I know damn sure that, having sat on this side of the aisle, I now take the time to write a positive review or add an encouraging comment or, if my opinion isn't quite so positive, temper my criticism so it's helpful not hurtful.
To those of you who've taken the time to let me know that you enjoy my work I say thank you so much. For me, it's always been about the conversation, so thanks for your time and thoughts.