I’ve heard it said that the following applies. It’s the 20/60/20 rule:
20% of people will hate you, no matter what kind of art you make, or what kind of person you are. It doesn’t matter. They’ll hate the way you look, the way you talk, the colours you choose. They’re determined to categorise you as despicable, no matter what you do or say. In fact, you don’t have to do or say anything and they’ll still dislike the sight of you. They’ll criticise you viciously, without even properly assessing your work. Whatever. There’s no pleasing those people. Ignore them.
60% of people, on the other hand, are totally indifferent to your art. They don’t care either way. They neither love nor hate your work. They don’t really know or care about you, as an artist. You are superfluous to their existence. Whether you struggle and succeed or not is of no interest to them whatsoever. You can’t give your art away to people like this. Actually, they’ll gladly take your art for free, valuing it at precisely nothing and then, when you’re out of earshot, throw your work away, damage it or treat it with contempt. You don’t want your art getting into the hands of people like this.
20% of people, though, will absolutely love your art. It will resonate with them and speak to their soul. Your art will be exactly the art they want to admire and enjoy. These people are your audience. The hard part is finding them and helping them find your art. Pay attention to and seek out the 20% that love your art.
If you find that crucial 20% that love your art, see if you can seduce them into loving you as well; not just your art. As an artist, the way you seduce them into caring about you, the artist, and loving you as much as they love your work is by continuing to make art they love. Keep giving them what they value most and eventually, they’ll come to value you as a human being too, with a little luck.
After a while, you can become so beloved by the crucial 20% that you won’t need to make any art at all, anymore (if that’s your aim) and you’ll still be regarded as an iconoclast, genius and a national treasure, even if you die.
Of course, the most beloved artists keep making art anyway, because they can’t do otherwise. They remain productive and relevant until they can’t physically do so, anymore. Some of their best work will be their most recent work, even if their nostalgic audience prefers and lauds their earlier art. That’s not such a bad existence, as an artist.
I hope you find your crucial 20%.