The Happy Artist: How to Take Criticism
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Artists tend to be both sensitive and prideful: a pairing of character traits which sets us up for failure. The art world is competitive, conceited, jealous, and filled with more critics than cheerleaders. Your work will be disparaged at some point by someone. I have seen fellow art students fall to pieces at critiques or angrily defend their work. I can’t always blame them; sometimes critiques are unjust. Other times, however, pride gets in the way of a learning opportunity. It’s hard to swallow your pride and hold your tongue while listening to someone speak poorly of your work, but learning humility as an artist is a crucial life skill.
Listen and Learn Listen carefully to what people say without taking it as a personal criticism of yourself. Dissect their statements. Does anything they say have merit? Is it true? Could their suggestions improve your piece? Learn from your peers and your critics. Don’t be too prideful to accept honest criticism, whether it is offered kindly or not. This is how we grow.
Release the Negative and the Unhelpful Just as important a skill is to learn how to ignore unhelpful criticism and personal opinions. I recently had a shop owner look at one of my pieces and declare, “Ugh, I hate this! I hate all of this!” Her opinion made me feel terrible and offered no wisdom, guidance, or suggestions for improvement. Allow yourself to release the comments that are untrue, not applicable, or just a personal opinion. Not everyone will like choices you make in your art, but others may appreciate it. Learn to distinguish what is constructive criticism and learn to ignore the rest.
Find Your Cheerleaders I can’t emphasize how important this is! Find the people in your life who will cheer you on. I don’t mean necessarily Mom who will tell you everything you make is perfect (though there are times I love to hear that, all the same!). Rather, find people in your life who believe in what you are doing and encourage you. They may offer insight, opinions, praise, and criticism, but regardless they will build you up and encourage you to grow. It is easy to be torn down and feel defeated, so find those who believe in you and support you in your endeavors.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalimages.net
Keep creating! Emily