"You're so talented!"

"You're so talented!"

As an artist who does markets/art shows, I hear it all the time..."You're so talented!" Although I appreciate the sentiment, the honest truth is, it's kind of insulting for someone to say that to an artist. Honestly, it's kind of insulting to say it to anyone who has spent a lot of time mastering any field of study - artist, brain surgeon, chef, electrician...whatever.

As an "expert" in our field, we've all spent years perfecting our art/skill. We've made so many mistakes, learned from those mistakes, doubted ourselves, wasted (yes, wasted) so much money, so many hours, lost sleep, etc., to get to where we are now. We weren't just born with natural talent -- we had to work -- HARD -- to get good at what we do.

I often tell customers, that for every finished piece they see at one of my shows, there are half a dozen throwaways at home. I know most people are saying "You're so talented" because they feel awkward that they're not buying my art. I get it -- you need to say something -- but say something different. Please. Don't negate all my hard work and chock it up to genes. Give me more credit than that.

I've struggled for years to come up with an appropriate response to the "You're so talented" comment. I've finally figured out that the best thing is to use it as a quick learning opportunity. My canned response now is "Thank you, but it's really only about 10% talent and 90% practice." Yes, I get a lot of blank stares, but maybe, just maybe, I'll get through to someone. Occasionally that intrigues a person and opens the door to a good (and educational) conversation.

If you're an artist who struggles with how to handle this generic compliment, I encourage you to do the same -- remember they really are trying to compliment you, but definitely seize the opportunity to open the customer's mind and help them see artists' work as WORK and not just talent. ;)

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1 comment

Purchased an absolutely gorgeous glittery blue pendant necklace with the rainbow chromium chain. I absolutely love it! Excellent customer service also! Thank you!

Cindy Ruehrmund

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