ABNORMAL: It Can Be a GOOD Thing!

I subscribe to Seth Godin’s blog. He may be an expert on marketing, but a lot of his posts also offer incredible insights into how to have a life well-lived.

Yesterday’s post was no exception. I was gonna skip  it, because the title was  odd. “Abnormal” did not sound like a good fit for my day.

And yet, it was exactly what I needed to read:

“Are you hesitant about this new idea because it’s a risky, problematic, defective idea…

or because it’s simply different than you’re used to?

If your current normal is exactly what you need, then different isn’t worth exploring. For the rest of us, it’s worth figuring out where our discomfort with the new idea is coming from.”

I’ve been writing for the online art marketing newsletter, Fine Art Views for many years now. At first, I focused more on marketing, salesmenship, display and lighting at fine craft shows, etc.

But more and more, as I struggled with my own role as an artist in this modern world, I shared deeper thoughts and musings: What it’s like to be a woman in the art world. (Kinda scary, sometimes!) What it’s like when you realize your sales aren’t great, and it’s really hard to figure out how to change that. (Do you quit? Or do you keep on? What’s the point??) What do you say when someone insults your work? (Snappy comeback at their expense? Or something so deep and embracing, it challenges them to look again?)

I write mostly what I’ve learned along the way, the powerful things others have taught me, and how to be a force for good in the universe.

I try to tread carefully on posts I know may trigger critical comments, and use humor often. Most of the comments complain my articles are too long.  (To be fair, they complain all the FAV articles are too long, but especially mine. I started finding the word count and adding “7 minute read”, so that people who don’t have seven minutes could pass.)

But nothing stops a truly negative person. I actually did a series called “Haters Gonna Hate”, about how we cannot possible please everyone with our work and how to move on to focus on the people who do…..

And almost every article drew a comment (or three) complaining about me using the word “hate”. Because….I kid you not….they hated it.

I am always happy to engage in a discussion, because that benefits everyone in the end.

But over the last few years, I’ve gotten some toxic comments that were so out-of-line, they took my breath away. And although every writer on the site gets slammed from time to time, I seemed to get more. (I seriously think it’s because for a few years, I was the sole female writer in a historically male-dominated art world.)

I’ve learned not to slam back. (Not my usual style anyway.) I’ve tried to explain why my reality may not be theirs, and that’s okay. (Though the commenter usually thinks THEIR reality is the “real one”.) I always wait until the pain and frustration softens, so I can respond with my highest, best self.

And now, my editor has agreed to move the weekday my articles are published, so they can monitor those toxic posts better. (I chose Saturdays, but because the editorial staff is not available on weekends, I had to sit with that poison for two more days before they could be deleted.)

So back to Seth’s blog post yesterday.

I think this is why I get such blowback from some of my columns.

I’m sharing something so different from the traditional definition of “artist”, the way an artist measures their success, and including those who don’t even consider themselves a “real artist”, it is

People accuse me of misreading the term “triggering”.

But I think that’s exactly what happens. What I’m writing about is a different thing from what they believe is “true.” So they find it problematic, defective, instulting….instead of just “different.”

I love it when people sit with the “different”, and reconsider their assumptions and definitions about “real art” and “real artists”.

It means I did it right.

I’m comfortable exploring the “different”. I don’t need to change because they aren’t.

I’ve always said, from the very beginning of my art career, “My art isn’t for everyone.” I can sit with that.

And I also know my writing is not for everyone, and I can sit with that, too.

No one is forced to buy my art, nor read my writing. (In fact, even now, if you hate reading this, you can…..delete it! (Takes a second, and poof, it’s gone!)

But here’s who I write for.

People who struggle constantly with, “Am I good enough?”

People who work hard on their art, their art skills, their marketing, their social media, and still can’t rely on good sales.

People who wonder what the point of making art is, if no one wants to buy it.

People who think they’re doing it wrong.

People who think everyone else is doing it right.

People who don’t see other artists like them in the world.

People whose social circle constantly diminish or demean their choice of subject, medium, color palette, style, etc.

And of course, people who want advice on selling, marketing, customer service, display, etc. etc. etc.

I always preface or end with the statement, “If what you’re doing works for you, don’t change it!!”

And yet, although, of course, I always think I’m right (I’m human!!!) I also recognize the power of emotional and social growth. The power of changing my mind. Seeing the life lessons and tiny gifts in the hard times. Crossing the path of people who DO know better than I, and who share their hard-earned insights with people like me.

And so, although sometimes my words hit the wrong places in the wrong people, I will keep on writing until I can’t.

A big thank you to those who like what I write (at least most of the time) and who share your own comments and insights. You are proof that we all have something that can lift someone’s heart and encourage them to pursue their own creative work. You also show that you are a true, open spirit in the world, embracing every step of the journey. You make my heart sing!

Because the world needs our art, no matter what form it takes. Creativity of any kind is a force for light in the universe. (My Star Wars mantra!)

In this vein, if you are reading this today and like it, pass it on to someone else who might enjoy it, too.

And if someone who has your back, forwarded this to you, and you like it, you can sign up for more at my blog here.





Author: Luann Udell

I find it just as important to write about my art as to make it. I am fascinated by stories. You can tell when people are speaking their truth--their eyes light up, their voices become strong, their entire body posture becomes powerful and upright. I love it when people get to this place in their work, their relationships, their art. As I work from this powerful place in MY heart, I share this process with others--so they have a strong place to stand, too. Because the world needs our beautiful art. All of it we can make, as fast as we can! Whether it's a bowl, a painting, a song, a garden, a story, if it makes our world a better place, we need to do everything in our power to get it out there.

18 thoughts on “ABNORMAL: It Can Be a GOOD Thing!”

  1. I just love reading your posts, Luann. They’re always thoughtful, sensitive, well-written and very helpful to my own journey as an artist. I’m sad to hear that trolls have even targeted you; it’s hard for me to imagine what could possibly be objectionable to anyone in your posts. But then again, I’m a bit bemused in general by the vitriol on the internet today. Seems there’s so much unprocessed pain out there, and the internet gives our species an easy way to vent that pain onto others. Please keep writing, because you provide an important perspective I rely on. Best wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Okay, you just brought tears to my eyes! You are spot on about the unprocessed pain, and the ease of venting in our modern times. Thank you for your faith in me, your views on why people choose to be hurtful, and your good wishes, I am so grateful for them all today. And especially for YOU.


  2. Thanks for another uplifting article! I’ll forward it to my daughter again. You always put into words the thoughts and feelings we have but can’t express as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Patrice, first, THANK YOU for letting me know your thoughts, and second, OMG your “about the artist”, we were separated at birth! We are of the same mind on how to be in this fiesty art world, and I’m glad we’re on the same team.


  3. I love your work- and I love your words! I hope to meet you some day- since you’re now in California- I think that’s entirely possible! Everything you say always resonates with me- as it has through many years!!


    1. Hey, we’re only about 8 hours away now! :^) Kathy, I’m delighted you enjoyed this article, and I LOVE your artwork! Beautifully odd and oddly beautiful creatures, and I can tell they are made with great love and great attention to detail. Keep on making!


  4. Dear LuAnn, I am so sorry that you have to experience the haters of the world when all you are trying to do is share your knowledge, experiences and insight. I , for one, absolutely love everything you write. You have always seemed to be on a similar wavelength to me and your insights always enrich my perspective on the crazy world of being a maker / artist. Thank you for all that you share. I hope you never stop.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nan, that was beautiful. Thank you!!!! I’m delighted what I write is what lifts YOUR heart. It means we’ve been there, or that we’re both “here”. That is all I can write about, and that is who I write for. Muddlers forever! 😀


  5. So sorry to hear someone took their anger issues out on you. As I always say, happy people do not need to hurt others. I always read your posts, though rarely comment. Sorry for not engaging more! I always find a nugget of inspiration in your writing that uplifts, encourages, informs or sometimes makes me see things differently. That my friend is a sign that you are writing something worth reading. Thank you for taking the time to share your insights, I look forward to continuing to read your articles. 🌟🌟🌟

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aisling, I am grateful for your insight (YES!!! It’s a good one.) And I’m glad you not only enjoy my writing, I’m glad you commented today! No pressure if you don’t engage, it’s enough to know there is someone who loves what I do, and I LOVE that.


  6. You pulled me in with the ABNORMAL title, but the rest had me raising my hand and saying “Amen!” more times than I could believe. “You don’t have to go to every fight you’re invited to.” will stick in my mind today and boost my usual “Do you want to be right or happy?” and “Choose your battles.” Your choice not to “slam back” was a good one, but just so you know, I may be out for hire as a hit man. I enjoyed that job one day in line at a grocery store, when the customer ahead of me was horribly rude to the check-out person, and of course the poor employee couldn’t say anything. I told the customer something like “One more second of this and I’m going to say what SHE (the checkout person) has every right to say to you right now.” The customer likely felt she’d met her match and said nothing to me and finished her purchase. I got a thanks from the employee. But back to your title that pulled me in: I’ve gotten braver about taking chances and moving forward with creating art that has me thinking “This will never sell.” Time after time, it’s sold faster than things that felt safe. If I’d played it safe years ago and not moved forward making southwestern art here in GEORGIA, I wouldn’t have had the good fortune I’ve enjoyed lately. Raising my paint brush like a sword but borrowing a line from Popeye: ” I Yam What I Yam & Dats What I Yam!”


  7. Max, I’m having an old-person day because I want to call you Michael but can’t remember for sure. which sucks because you’ve done SO MUCH for me with the hat pin thing!!! Okay, what you wrote made me laugh and smile, and I’m delighted you are an ally, someone who speaks out when others are being rude or mean (just because they think there are no consequences.) I get exasperated and I have my bad days. But that beautiful piece of writing from Brene Brown on the question “Do you believe people are doing the best they can?” You’ve reminded me of that. I will keep you on my hit-man for hire list (though I hope I never have to use it!), you are a great writer (you are so funny!) and I am grateful for your friendship, always.


  8. Luann,
    Just wanted you to know that I’ve followed your writing for years, on your blog, your columns and lately on FASO. The only reason I signed up for FASO’s newsletter was to see your articles.

    I’m one of the one’s you are writing for. And I often forward an article to my mother or someone else who might really need it right now. You’ve helped me over and over. Sometimes with concrete suggestions, but often with just knowing I’m not the only one going through this whole crazy art and life thing.

    Don’t ever let the negative comments get to you. Especially the complaints about length. No one is holding anyone’s eyes against the screen and forcing them to read your words. Your style may not be for everyone (Bruce Baker allusion) but it is for so many of us. Don’t shorten what you want to say to fit someone else’s shallow idea of what they want. Don’t apologize that you took the time to write more than a paragraph. Anyone who doesn’t like depth can get their word fix on Twitter 😉

    Thanks for all the time and effort and honesty. I appreciate it, and I’ll keep reading as long as you are willing to keep writing.


    1. Christy, first, thank you for being a regular reader, I appreciate that! (Okay, I’m gonna have to limit my exclamation points in this post, so jut imagine one at the end of every sentence except this one, okay? :^) Second, WOW! on signing up for FASO to read my posts. Thank you for letting me know I write for YOU as well as for ME. That’s validation right there. Third, I’m glad you pass this on to others because you care about them, and because you find these articles helpful and encouraging. Fourth, you are so right about negative feedback. I know those people are coming from either a place of self-satisfaction, entitlement, envy, insecurity, or an angry heart. So much of what they complain about doesn’t even make sense. (Like hating the word “hate”?? Irony????) Still hurts. OTOH, there are people far braver than I am, who do BIG work in the world for good, who endure even worse slamming, even death threats. It embarrasses me I even make a big deal about my own trolls. You are telling me what I write for YOU is a lot more important than how I feel about THEM. Thank you for that, for helping me get back to my happy place today, and thank you for being YOU. Cuz you’re amazing. (Putting the exclamations back in here: !!!!!!!)


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