Complete strangers offer beautiful comments (sometimes in languages I don't understand) and their words are like precious gifts: "Bonjour. Je suis française. Je viens de découvrir tes créations. Je suis complètement subjuguée. Merci..."
Students write, too, posing questions for assignments. If they're interesting or challenging, I answer in detail. Sometimes, they say thank you, Mostly, they don't. Too many are ill-prepared – maybe they're hoping I'll do all their work for them – so I just direct them to my web site or this blog. My time is valuable and in short supply. I refuse to waste it encouraging a stranger not to think for themselves.
People write to seek permission to use my images for commercial purposes. Often, I say yes. I ask only for an acknowledgement. I vet every proposal. If I don't think it's appropriate, I decline politely and thank whoever it is for considering my work. Most take it well, understanding that if you ask for something, anything, a negative answer is always an even bet.
Some throw little tantrums. They fire back snide put downs of the work they've requested to use – and of me. They remind me of those fucked-up, oppressive men who ask a woman out then, if she demurs, heap abuse on her. I'm rarely offended. It's just a vain, stupid, self-defeating pitch to regain some power they think they've lost – go figure! All it really does is reassure me that I was right. Any other emails they send get junked by my assistant so I don't even have to read them.