For those who don't know, Elfwood is a very large on-line gallery, and the comment mailing is nothing more or less than a compendium of all the comments left by viewers on your artwork over the course of the day, sent out promptly on the stroke of midnight for the artist to pore over without having to go through their gallery image by image.
It's like crack. I love it.
It's not even the good comments. I appreciate the good comments of course. I'm as suceptible to flattery as the next person. The rare sagas of inspiration get me as choked up as anybody, and I find it helpful for keeping a thumb on the jugular of the fantasy art world. On the scale of things that are best about my job, the fact I get to sleep in every day is at the top, but a close second is the people who like my work and tell me so. They keep me motivated.
But if they keep me motivated, I swear, it's the people who loathe me that help keep me inspired. (Well, along with anteaters and frogs and the Discovery Channel.) I love 'em. Even the people who love a particular painting rarely express anything with the overwhelming passion of those who hate it. You know you've made a difference, even for just thirty seconds, and it drives you to make another one, just to see if you can find that nerve you hit and this time, do a little tap dance on it. I should set up a trust fund solely to perpetuate the dragon people, because without them, I would never have painted garbage dragons and franken-griffins. The phrase "I despise the arrogant wombat" still gives me delight, and I swear, I'll find a way to work that into "Digger" if it kills me. I dunno if it's a "Love me, hate me, at least you're not ignoring me," sort of thing, of the sort that leads people to make shock art, or if I am simply a bad, bad person, but there you are. And the Elfwood comment mailing is a daily delight, because, while most of the time, it's pleasant, every now and again you get a real gem. Even DeviantART never delivers that kind of angst.
For example, yesterday brought me the warm and fuzzy:
| Referring to: ursula/crux.jpg
| "This is so sad, why anyone would even THINK about that kind
| of thing, especially about a dragon. I am totally disgusted!
| You sick pervert, I absolutely HATE it with all my heart. It
| makes me want to cry."
I'm not fond of that painting, myself--it's a dragon hung on the side of the building being used as a battery--but largely because it's old and I screwed up the perspective, and after the Matrix came out, the whole using-a-live-thing-as-a-battery ceased to be cool and original. I leave it up mostly because it gets such reactions.
And then there was this morning's crack, which was even better, as I watched the progress of one intrepid soul named "Silver_Gryphon" through my gallery, thanks to the chronological ordering of the the comments. It was like a little saga. I could see exactly how it went down. It started pleasant. Nobody can hate a frog. And then the nudes appeared...
| Referring to: ursula/frogjay.jpg
| "Sooooooooo cute!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
| Referring to: ursula/frogfinches.jpg
| Referring to: ursula/babylon.jpg
| "She is good looking very pretty in fact but nudity is not
| an art from it is gross."
| Referring to: ursula/babylon.jpg
| "Your views on church disgust me whores are not the heros
| you say they are the are disgusting vermon"
I'm tellin' ya, that's feedback. Raw emotional reaction over art, right there, served up every few mornings along with the coffee. The only thing better is when you're sitting at a table watching someone flip through prints and can note what they linger on, what they flip past in boredom, what they stare at, giggling, and hear what they mutter to themselves, a learning experience that I recommend highly for everyone, at least once.
And, in other news...Frog Udders. Hey, you were warned.