As the infamous #CircusPanel nears, I thought it only fitting to address the most difficult part of any creative business: criticism. Some people prefer to use the term “feedback” but I find it a wee bit passive aggressive. Kinda like saying “no offense” before you say something actually offensive. Lets just call a spade a spade, shall we?
For those of you that don’t know, #CircusPanel is basically our final exam. We mount all of our completed work, present it to 3-4 teachers and/or department heads, they look for 10 minutes, then they critique you for 10 minutes, then you leave. Hopefully not in tears. At least that’s what I’ve heard. I’ll keep ya posted.
While it is easy to assume that the critique you receive at Panel is the be all end all, or the most important or as some would say, the only one that matters, that is simply not true. Each and every bit of criticism you receive in your life, school or otherwise, solicited or thrust upon you, matters. What matters even more, is how you handle it.
That being said, it’s always harder to take criticism about creative work. Not only because it’s so subjective, but because unleashing creativity is like opening up a part of yourself. It can become very personal very quickly. Even if you’re just writing a tag for Fancy Feast. So, before you get all butt-hurt and defensive because someone “doesn’t like” your work (and you associate that with them not liking you), ask yourself these questions:
1. Do I like my work – really ask yourself that. Don’t just respond with a yes because it took you three days to make a shitty headline. If you really like it, and think it works, and can defend it, then by all means, do. But when it really comes down to it, if you think it can be even marginally improved (which 99% of the time it can), then take the critique. This doesn’t mean scrap your idea completely, but use the critique as a wrung on the ladder of your creative process. It’s a stepping stone to getting you from decent to amazeballs.
2. Who is the critique coming from – It’s always easier, if not more painful, to take criticism from someone we respect. Whether it’s a fellow student, teacher, or industry professional, we treat those opinions like gold. But when it comes from someone we think is garbage we tend to ignore it or get really upset about it and consider it a personal attack. Both of these reactions are unproductive. If you respect the critic, especially if they are your superior (boss, teacher, Lady Gaga) you might consider giving their critique more weight. If you don’t respect them, listen to what they say, consider it honestly, then take it or leave it. Ignoring it does nothing for your personal growth. As for getting all bent out of shape about it, who cares what they say. You don’t respect them anyway, remember?
3. Is this critique unanimous – If you are hearing the same thing from a multitude of people, well, hate to break it to ya, but it’s probably true. If it was just one jerk being a jerk, like I said before, listen to what they say, consider it honestly, then take it or leave it.
So that’s that. Go handle criticism like a boss. As for shipping it out… Only say things that need to be said, talk about the work and only the work, and have a valid, constructive reason or better yet, a solution. “I don’t like it” doesn’t help anyone, and it makes you look like a big dumb dummy. Yeah, I went there.
‘Til next time: Be kind. Rewind.