As an artist, being pigeonholed is an unfortunate reality that comes with the territory. There are times where a day doesn't go by that I don't feel categorically misunderstood. It can be frustrating to see people cast me into the same pools as things I might find distasteful, poorly executed, or weakly related ... But these associations are rarely malicious. They are judgments, often based on a small sample size ... a single point in space. I've worked on upwards of 50 different projects, but you might know me for one thing, therefore insert genre name here. People try to pin things down as static objects. It's a convenient shortcut that fails to illuminate the complexity of our world. We're all dynamic beings moving through space and time. I am a different person then I was an hour ago and so are you. This paragraph from Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay "Self-Reliance" sums up my feelings very nicely:
"With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — 'Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.' — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood."
I think the frustration I feel comes from an inherent desire to feel connected to people. I use my work as a way to connect to the world. On occasion people do manage to see what I am trying to express in my work and that is a very gratifying feeling. But often people find their own meaning in the work and it's been an ongoing process to accept that, especially when there is a consensus of which you are not a part.
Once you make something and release it out into the world, it can be hard to let go. But to find a healthy sense of distance from the work at that point helps to accept that others will experience it in their own way. There will always be some new genre, or some new piece of pop that people are influenced by, and no one's work exists in a vacuum. What you make will get caught up in the greater school of culture whether you like it or not. I've found it helpful to try and detach myself from the minutiae of external perceptions, whether they are collective or individual. I just try to focus on myself and my work.
If I'm doing the right things, I think I'll always be a few steps ahead, people trying to pin me down by the tail as I move past. And I'll always be misunderstood. Mostly.