Hello budding flower, precious new butterfly of the art community. You are wonderful and unique, special in every way. That’s the last time I’ll ever say that to you. After dodgeball crits, I’ll never look at a critique the same way again. You see, little butterfly, I come from a school that held nothing back from critiques, people who would crit you to make you better, and to crit you to tear your work down in comparison to their own. You learn to block out the bullshit, and accept the critiques that make you better, stronger. If you only talk about what you like about a piece subsequent work doesn’t improve. By avoiding the same mistakes and continuing to improve on your strengths you get better faster. I’m sorry, but I cannot abide by that. If you ask me for a critique of your work I’ll tear it apart, not for spite or to be hurtful, as I do not view you as your work just as I assume you do not view me as mine. Why, then, tear it apart?
To make your work better. And, by extension, making you better. I take most of my crits this way, except this one time where we were supposed to be giving crits and this one lady just straight up told me she didn’t like any of my stuff. What am I supposed to do with that, lady? I’m sorry I don’t like taking a billion fucking pictures of a fucking stadium being built at night, on black and white analog film! Sorry. I digress. Some projects I have to ask but one question and then the story or project falls apart. Does that make me feel good? No, it doesn’t. I love good stories, no matter how fanciful. I want to know why a character does something, or what an image is trying to say to me. I enjoy that, but a story that goes no where, says nothing, has a weak voice, or is so pretentious it makes me sick… I will tell you my opinion. I’m not saying that I’m right and you’re wrong, but if this is how your piece comes off to me consider that others might just feel the same way too. If I’m poking major holes in your story with just a few questions then consider coming at this story in a different way.
Look at it this way. You have an idea, and you plant that idea. People come along and give you bullshit criticism, dump on your idea and some people who are close to you will gush over your idea. Then there are the few that come by and help you trim back the over growth, point out where you can prune your plant to grow better- you want to collect those people. Not just those people, but specifically ones that align with the way you understand things, and align with where you are going in your vision.
Too many artists pour their heart and soul into a project and get crushed by peoples’ criticism. Sometimes people do it out of spite, others want to help, and others do it just to show off their knowledge of the craft- but as a creator you must learn to detach yourself from your work. Look at everything you do as a step in learning your craft, take in all the critique that is actually usable and keep everything that might be usable in the back of your mind. The bullshit you need to let fall by the wayside. Carrying it with you can only drag you down. You must learn to understand that you are not your work, no matter how much it might reflect who you are, it is not you. Art is a public endeavor, and people will always bring their prejudices when looking at your art. What someone else sees in your work is part of what it means to be an artist, and directing them to what you want them to see or feel is the goal isn’t it? I’ll leave you with the saying John Clapp says all the time: “I’m looking for signs of intelligent life”, meaning that he’s looking at your work and searching for reasons why you did a certain thing without you having to explain it. Now get outta here you rhinoceros hided beast and get back to work!