Dear Papa Bear,
I am a fursuit maker, and a lot of people pick on me because my suits are not "professional." They call my suits all sorts of names and make fun of them. I try my best, though, and my friends say I am getting better. But it is to the point where I feel like quitting because the bad stuff hurts a lot. What do I do?
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Have you ever heard of the 10,000 hour rule? Papabear isn’t sure who said it first, but the idea is that to become outstanding at something that takes skill, such as playing the piano or painting, can be done by almost anyone if they show true dedication to getting better at it. 10,000 hours would be about 20 hours a week of practice for 10 years. A corollary to this rule is the 1,000 hour rule, which says you can get quite good at something by doing it for about 2 hours a week for a decade, or, if you want to step it up, about 9-10 hours a week for two years.
Not knowing how long you have been making fursuits, I can’t guess how far along you might be on either plan. But your friends have told you that you are improving, and if you continue to do so, eventually you will get to that “professional” quality other people are insisting you reach.
The question becomes, though, whom are you trying to please? Yourself or your critics? If you make fursuits because you enjoy it, then who cares what other people think? If you are doing it because you want to sell them for money, then listen to what they are saying about your fursuits and say, “I welcome constructive criticism and thanks for your input. I’m working really hard to improve my craft and I know I’m getting better at it.”
If, on the other paw, people are just being critical to be mean and hurtful, you can always ask to see the fursuits they made and... oh? They don’t make fursuits? They have no skills in making fursuits? Then maybe they should try making one themselves and see how difficult it is before criticizing someone.
Don’t be defensive of your work; instead, be assertive: “Each fursuit I make is better than the last, and even my worst fursuit is better than what you’ve done, which is nothing.”
Criticism can hurt, I know. As a writer, I have been criticized a lot. I have over 90 rejection letters from publishers and agents from my first book. It’s painful. But consider the source. Many critics don’t know what they are talking about, and through history many have been proven wrong, for example:
People who criticize others usually do so because they themselves are sad and pathetic, and saying mean things about someone else makes them feel that they are superior somehow. This, of course, is sick and twisted behavior. Furries who are not derps will see that you are trying to contribute something to the furry world, that you are getting better at it, and that you should be encouraged.
Keep Up the Good Fight!!!!
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.