Don’t Let Others’ Opinions Keep You from Doing the...

Don’t Let Others’ Opinions Keep You from Doing the Work You’re Meant to Do

When I was in college, I had a favorite professor, who taught art history. He’d started out as a photographer, a career that had been his lifelong dream since mixing his own chemicals in a makeshift darkroom under his parents’ stairway.

As a young man, he’d had an opportunity to show his portfolio to an established and highly celebrated photographer whom he admired deeply. This famous photographer took one look at his work and pronounced, “Boring.”

My teacher later told me this was a gift, that the photographer had been right and that his talents were better served as a historian and enthusiast of the medium. But that story always unsettled me.

Later, I met the photographer and we, too, became close friends. I showed him my work, but felt that he never really looked at it before dismissing it. And dismiss it he did, advising me to become an art historian instead. My teacher agreed.

I tried it their way, but I could never shake the feeling that I’d been sold a bum rap.

I later opened a gallery and started selling the work of this esteemed photographer. It was the first time I’d ever felt that he approved of me. (Probably because—no joke—he said, “This is the first time I’ve ever approved of you.”) When I told him I missed making my own work, he waved me off, saying, “You’ve finally found success. This is what you were meant to do.”

He didn’t understand when I decided to quit and settle in London in order to devote myself to photography, my personal writing, and working with other artists. I proudly showed him some of my stories and images, but he dismissed them without even looking. “That’s not my sort of thing,” he’d say.

And when I launched The Working Artist and sent him the videos I’d created, he responded, “You were more interesting when you were selling art.”

As an artist, I understand that not everyone will like my stuff, and I challenge myself not to take it personally. But it’s especially difficult when that someone is a friend whom I value and an artist I respect.

At first, his response to my work made me quit. Later, it made me try harder. Now, it just makes me sigh. But never again will his opinion or anyone else’s make me stop.
Because I’ve got work to do.

Crista Cloutier is a Professional Arts Career Advisor who has worked in and around the art business throughout her career. She’s been honored as an “Influencer in the Contemporary Art World” by LinkedIn. She spent a decade as the director of an influential gallery, is recognized internationally as a curator, has contributed articles and books about art to major publications worldwide, and she’s an artist herself.


Crista is also the founder of The Working Artist, an online professional practices resource for artists who want to get their work seen and sold.


How To Sell Your Art

Packed with helpful information to help you accelerate success. When you sign up for this free eBook, you’ll also receive a complimentary micro-workshop, Jump: Go Deeper Into Your Artist Practice.

You can claim your copy here >


The Working Artist Masterclass

For artists who are ready to go deeper into their professional development; over the span of 8 weeks, you’ll be walked step-by-step through this unique program on a journey that you’ll never forget.

  • • Explore who you are as an artist, so your branding and marketing message are completely authentic.
  • • Understand how to price your art, create compelling promotional materials, and navigate the art world.
  • * Learn how to connect with collectors and art world-decision makers.

This is an online, on-demand comprehensive workshop that also includes Art Fair Essentials, an intensive program that will help you to achieve more sales during a fair. In addition, you’ll be invited to Crista’s monthly Coaching Calls that will continue to support you even after you finish the course.

You can receive a special discounted offer upon joining the mailing list. To learn more, visit


Private Mentorship Program

If you’re a mid-career artist with an exhibition record, Crista Cloutier offers the opportunity for private one-on-one Skype consultations. Every artist’s journey is unique so Crista will work with you in terms of your specific needs so you feel completely prepared for the art fair world.


You can receive a special discounted offer upon joining the mailing list. To learn more, visit

"Crista Cloutier is an extraordinary facilitator for change, creativity and prosperity.” Griselda Cann Mussett


  1. liza cowan

    9 October

    This could be my story.
    Thank you. I needed that boost today.

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