Some may know of us through our artwork and concepts and the controversy we seem to court, but we've learned to hold our own and our work is enjoyed by many throughout the world. Not everyone has what it takes to keep going in the face of adversity but I thought I'd answer the initial question as best as I could. While I am convinced that school yard bullies can only be dealt with with physical violence (been there done that), in the big bad world of internet bullies and trolls we have to handle things differently. Here's 5 things to remember when dealing with attacks and negativity towards your work.
The single greatest weapon you have at your disposal is your steely resolve. No, seriously. Wait it out. Over time you will get to where you're wanting to go because you've told everyone that you're not going away any time soon. Study successful people who have suffered controversy and study how they have dealt with it. What was the result after they've tackled the problem head on? Look past the controversial remarks they may have had and see what makes these people tick. A good subject is Donald Trump. yes, i know i know, even mentioning "The Donald" nowadays without an insult following it, might seem like a reckless move but please stick with me because I really feel that Trump has become a classic example of a person dealing with huge amounts of controversy, yet is still going strong. Today (at least the media would have us believe) Trump is up there for one of the most hated men, even compared to Hitler. How's THAT for a comparison? Imagine trying to deal with that? Yet if name calling were as bad as you think it is, based on your own feelings, do you not think that Trump would have disappeared long long before he ever decided to run for president, and most certainly after the huge media effort to wipe him out? Yet there he is, bold as brass, big smug grin on his face. Trump took their insults like a farmer takes cowshit, made it into compost and grew tomatoes to throw at his enemies.
and then find out they are from the same family, would you blame the whole town? Of course not. That's actually how i put up with some of these "misconceptions". I recognized it for what it was and tried to make peace with it. All you can do is defend yourself with the truth and counter these people.
Keep this in mind when you feel that it's going to get to you. Chances are you're creating something very unique, and even something that is gaining a genuine fan base. This can really annoy those who are struggling with their own ideas and projects but stick with it, and with the facts, with the truth, confront those who are concerned about false rumors about you.
But let's say these are genuine misconceptions. Ask the person to look at your work and have them write to you if they still feel it stands for what they've heard it does and still feel offended. Genuine misconceptions should be taken to private messages, email etc. Anyone who has the courtesy of emailing you privately with a concern should be shown gentleness and should be treated kindly.(at your discretion of course, you are not a punching bag). Concern over your work stated publicly, without consulting you first in private, should be seen as an open attack. Calls to boycott your work is a call for nuclear war. In the past I have made a habit of shutting down one fool after the other in open debate if they publicly state their negative assumptions on our art. You should too. It's not pretty, but neither is slander. Do I feel bad about it? Yes. Truth be told I hate arguing but I am not weak and I will take down anyone who publicly challenges me. You must too. How else will others know where the boundaries are if you've not drawn them up? Most people know where general boundaries are, based on their observation of society. You don't walk up to stranger in real life and slander them unprovoked and expect to get away with it. Neither should we do it in the online world.
3, View Things in Context
This is probably the main point you'll need to remember. Let's be brutally honest. If you're reading this so far, maybe you're interested in views on dealing with this kind of thing. I'm being honest with you but in return I want you to be honest with yourself. We live in an increasingly politically correct, culturally sensitive, easily triggered society who not only get offended by pretty much everything, but want to make damn sure that anyone who triggers them will pay the price as a social pariah. Do you want to draw a horror tarot with blood, guts and gore? Good luck friend. I sincerely mean that because the more people do think outside the box, the more acceptable all new and challenging ideas will start to become. Most intelligent people can keep things in context. In the case of a horror deck It's fictional cartoon horror (or whichever style of art you choose). It doesn't mean you endorse cannibalism or endorse murder or any of that nonsense. If so then everyone from Tarantino to Alfred Hitchcock endorses murder too, and if so, what about those that watch Bruce Willis shoot bad guys in Die Hard? We need to be reasonable. Always keep things in context.
That is not to say that your critics are capable of keeping things in context, but that's not as important as you yourself keeping in mind that you're not the person they are saying you are. You don't endorse murder, cannibalism or any of that stuff....unless you actually do, in which case skip Step 3 lol.
You got your following, you have excited lovers of your art/writing/project etc, but you've invoked the wrath of one of these "leaders". Now what? Well, I advise you to try and make friends with those whose egos you've bruised. Grab Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" and try to come up with a solution lol. That's if you're a genuinely nice person and don't want to get on anyone's bad side. Near as I can tell Carnegie advises to make friends with your "enemies" at all costs and I highly advise this. Yet let's get real here. Sometimes it is not possible to make friends with your enemies. There's a great line in the song "Lost for Words" by Pink Floyd where it says
"So I open my door to my enemies
And I ask could we wipe the slate clean
But they tell me to please go f**k myself
You know you just can't win "
Sometimes making friends is out of the question through no fault of your own. Hey, life isn't perfect. So what do you do? You follow the previous steps and watch your guard around such people. It's usually not possible to be friends with everyone if one wants to do better, be better, to excel, because you are going to cause a lot of jealousy. That's life. Look at all the greats, the people who have achieved success, wealth and fame. One thing that many of them have in common is that they've challenged the status quo, made enemies, been told they would never make it, became formidable and began dominating the communities they found themselves in.
Would they have rather gotten to where they are by being friendly and nice to everyone? probably. Would it be possible? Depends on what you call nice. Certainly you can be friendly even to those who want to do you and your business harm, but obviously there must be a cut off point otherwise they will walk over you. You're not going to be nice to them while they screw you over otherwise you're encouraging their bad behavior. I used to see this playing out all too often in the online tarot community which I am part of. It's probably still happening but I've been far too busy to notice it nowadays. By rising up in power, you must incur the wrath of those who came before. Name me one person who has been happy to concede power? Can their almighty ego take it?. Never under estimate the power of your competitor's ego.
Most rational people can be handled, but you are eventually going to meet that one persistent person who is out to ruin you. Who knows why? I've even heard of people's families being threatened online over arguments. Completely insane if you ask me. What is so important that you have to bring innocent people into an argument? Yet it happens. Nothing so drastic has happened to me, but I know people who have suffered this. Nowadays such attackers are called Trolls.
If this happens you there might be a few steps to take, and which I advise (at least in the online world) is if it is possible to block them (for example on Facebook), then do so. This prevents them spreading lies on your own page and trying to derail your project right in front of your eyes. Believe me, I've seen it happen before to others. If it is in my power I would never allow this. Other people either don't know how to use the block feature on social media etc, or simply do not care enough. Blocking them, of course, is not going to stop them spreading lies and negativity about you elsewhere. Generally this is ok, you don't have to fight every battle, but there is the possibility of them completely derailing you elsewhere. This is why it is an excellent idea to have scouts, especially if your attacker belongs to a group. If you're going to fight fire with fire friend, make sure you're not trying to fight against a flamethrower with a little cigarette lighter. Create a network of friends who will inform you if your detractor is trying to derail your project elsewhere. Failing that, you need to improvise.
Normally I would not advise the use of sock accounts, but these are special circumstances. You are not naive enough to believe that most of these kinds of jerks haven't sock puppet accounts of their own? It's the big secret that no one talks about it, yes, even your favourite authors have them. Love it or loathe it, with the amount of backstabbing that goes on on social media, sock puppets are used to be kept in the loop without being officially in the loop. I don't use one personally as I would have trouble pretending to be someone else successfully, but this is one way of making sure these people aren't getting the upper hand. It really depends on which community you belong to but many people are affected continually by malicious slander and vicious rumors that it makes no sense to sit there and be defenseless when there are ways of being proactive. Sign up to Google alerts and type in your project and your attackers name and get alerts when your project and their name show up in the same place. If they are going to slander you elsewhere, follow them and shut their asses down. If you're gaining a name for yourself and have enough followers where being slandered is not a big deal to you as far as the tide of popular opinion turning against you, then you may not have to take these extra measures. It really depends on how you wish to handle the situtation.
the pharisees. Moses offended Pharaoh. From east to west, from north to south, since the dawn of humankind, people have offended each other. I repeat; being offended is not a crime. Being offended is perfectly natural in a multi cultural multi faith world. How could it not be? Offense is not something we can simply remove from society, it will never happen. Rather, it's what you do with the feelings that come with being offended that truly matter. We can try to ban the thing that offends us but all that is achieved is a small victory for yourself, but a huge erosion of freedom of speech over a period of time. Through this act, not only is this a voluntary erosion of law, it's a voluntary erosion of freedom in terms of day to day speech, creativity and so on. This stifles creativity, demonizes difference, and disrupts individual communities of people.
Yet we hear tarot collectors and readers cry for more diverse decks. Which is it? If you really believe this, you must get behind those who stand for and celebrate diversity on a daily basis. You don't have to purchase their decks if it's not to your artistic style or isn't visually pleasing to you, but stand by these creators and share their work because it's not the easiest thing to deal with when these jealous /small minded/ fault finding /pseudo social justice warriors/ intolerant small minded groups of people try to slander you, accuse you, blatantly lie to you and about you, and try to have your work banned, not just on Facebook, but other places. Suggesting publicly that as a community all members should get behind boycotting our artwork, removing every trace it from certain groups, or even "sanitizing" our work is hugely selfish because again, this consists of a few disgruntled (and often jealous) people who want to use an entire community to remove a work that they themselves don't like or are jealous of. How selfish is that? I mean, did someone just invite Tipper Gore to the party?
This was long winded, but I like to think thorough, and I hope that it was helpful, or, if not helpful, at least amusing!
James is the artist behind the illustrations on this site, maintains the website, writes the blogs and puts together the newsletter.