Validation carries the thought of being authenticated, verified and proven worthwhile. In my first post on this blog I made the statement that selling art was about personal validation.
Don't believe me?
It's not about making money-- because there are much easier ways to do that.
It's not about making people happy, or we'd give our art away.
Not that those two things don't come into play-- but that's not what it's about.
See if this is familiar. You've make something incredible and you just know it will be be snapped up by one of the first 10 people who sees it. Eagerly and with anticipation you can feel down to your toes, you lay it out on your sales display and no one even looks at it, or worse, you put it out on the Web and no one looks and you sit there checking it every five minutes for an hour and then twice a day for a week and not only does it get ignored-- it sits in your house for years.
And you look at it and think 'well maybe it wasn't so great after all. Am I fooling myself? Are my family and friends too nice to say my stuff is crap? Are all the artists on Etsy just yessing me?'( Which we do have to watch by the way. Hearing that our art is great by people who don't truly love it isn't very healthy. We know they don't truly love so it diminishes the validity of the heartfelt comments we will get.)
On the other hand-- something pricey sells, a stranger blogs about us, we're juried into a show, published, galleried, commissioned and oh my, we're sky high! Our art is brilliant, it's loved, it's worth something and because it's so much a part of us, we're brilliant, we're loved, we're worth something-- but nothing real has changed!
It's the same painting, bead, bracelet, hat or sculpture it was when it was sitting in our house for three years. And we're certainly the same person that we were two seconds before it sold.
It's a pitfall. Seeking external validation can motivate us and right or wrong we're going to seek it, but we need to be aware of that and balance it out. Alone, it can leave us insecure, negative and needy, with no creative direction. Being conscious that external validation must be balanced with internal validation will help keep our creativity free for creating!
Think of Van Gogh-- he got so little external validation, yet he painted the most incredible work. If you ever have a chance to see his work in person, nab it. Pictures don't show the texture and scale which make his work truly awe-inspiring.
He was driven from the inside to create something beautiful and nothing on the outside would stop him. His art was important to him. His validation was internal. That's key-- our conviction that we are authentic and worthwhile and that our art is authentic worthwhile must be more solid and real to us than the conviction of others or their lack there of.
That personal conviction will show in our lives and our art. If we aren't desperate for external validation we'll be able to genuinely enjoy it when it comes our way. (Who enjoys their dinner more, the well-fed man or the one who's literally starving for it? There's little joy in desperation.)
If we balance internal and external validation we'll be healthier, happier, have more creative energy and better able to stay true to our own vision. That will result in art we love and that others love too!