You Made This and No One Cares

Sometimes It Falls On Blind Eyes

You Made This and No One Cares

Artists and creatives have a secret. Sometimes we even keep it from ourselves. Hopefully my peers aren’t mad at me for telling you this: we really want to make something that you like. We want it so bad that we might make you something even if you don’t ask for it! Or worse, even if you don’t pay for it! Bite my tongue, right?

Not all of us maybe, but many of us crave your approval above all else. We love when our audience responds with excitement, interest or is otherwise impressed. The hardest thing to cope with is being dismissed or ignored. We’ll take constructive criticism or even a bad review over being ignored, as long as there is some explanation involved. Our most coveted response, our greatest craving is to be lauded and applauded for our work. Think of musicians, painters, poets and authors. We measure our success by both the number of people who have experienced our particular art and by the impact we make on their lives. The worst response, our biggest fear, is to be ignored or unnoticed.

Just occasionally, in our industry, a commissioned or requested piece of artwork goes unused. Perhaps we needed some options internally for a blog or presentation. It may have been a client project that included a number of pieces of artwork. A package or an ad that started out with multiple drafts of very different appearance and style. At some point in the design process, one variation or design is inevitably discarded.

Usually, discarded options find new life sometime further down the road. Sometimes they experience so many edits that the artist can feel comfort in knowing that her design was part of the process and intrinsic to the ultimately selected version. But there are exceptions. Some options are so alien to the final version that you just know that you missed the mark. That no one cared. Far worse, a piece of artwork might be used that no viewer or audience ever saw! Maybe it was a web page that no one visits, or a printed brochure that never got handed out. Or, it was a carefully curated portfolio that was casually flipped through without enthusiasm. Perhaps your client has seen way too many options for their package or ad today, and they didn’t bother looking at them all; or the first or second one was so perfect for their needs, the last one never saw the light of day.

No viewer or audience might ever see it

Society's Immeasurable Loss

You Made This and No One Cares

Picture running home from grade school with your macaroni art clutched tightly in your hands, eager to share your beautiful effort with a caring parent and having it proudly displayed for all the world to see. Only, as you burst in through the front door, you realize that your hands are empty! Glancing back you see a puff of smoke as the uncaring bus departs. You look up at a curious and expectant parent, their face framed by an enormous expanse of undecorated refrigerator door. Through hot tears you babble about your artwork, lamenting its loss, only to see your parent’s grief is for your discomfort, not for society’s immeasurable loss due to your missing artwork. She shrugs, offering you the chance to make another tomorrow. That’s how it feels. The next piece of art won’t fix that feeling, won’t replace that piece of unviewed art…

However, if you think about it, we didn’t make it solely for the approval of our peers, our clients, our superiors or even our parents. We made it because we love to create. Because with each stroke of the pen, the brush or the stylus, we become more experienced, more creatively capable and more free to express. If you didn’t gain in the creation of the artwork, then you can rest assured that there wasn’t much of value to gain by the viewing of the artwork either.

Whenever you leave your hard work on the bus seat, never to be seen again, whenever your client selects an image without viewing all of them and whenever your hard drive melts taking your greatest masterpieces into the ether, remember well that you have gained and have grown from the creation of the artwork. The viewing and the approval only serves to confirm that growth, but it is not necessarily void without it. If no one cares, that might mean you have to try harder next time. If no one saw it, that just means you can adapt it to another project! You made this and now you’re better for it.

Rich Harris
Latest posts by Rich Harris (see all)