Over the course of this series, I have explored key principles that I feel were important to me in the development of this project. Earlier topics included maintaining interest on a large scale project, how to express creativity when there are restrictions, how long an image should take to create (and other timekeeping issues), and some of my thoughts on character design. I hope that those items are helpful to you in some way.
Today, I want to deviate from my previously established pattern, and just express some recent thoughts I have had on critique. The moment that you make something and throw that creation out into the world for people to see, it will be open to criticism. While this could mean criticism in the negative sense, I also mean it in the sense that it will be analyzed from a literary or artistic perspective. I prefer to think of critique as the latter, as the majority of people looking at an image will more than likely respond favorably to the work first, and then (depending on the depth of their training) have more to say about specific elements of the artwork.
Above all, however, critique is not a personal attack. If someone is offering you critique, they are more than likely approaching it from an impersonal perspective and are simply stating observable facts or opinions. It may be helpful to differentiate between “fact” and “opinion,” but that skill to discern is one that takes considerable practice. Perhaps, however, it may be more helpful to approach the critique honestly, and by that, I mean to listen with an open mind to the critique, process it, and make an educated decision on how you want to proceed. You should be as impersonal in responding to the critique as people are giving it. Otherwise, people will resist, or be uncomfortable, giving you their honest feedback, and you will have effectively stymied your own growth. More than once, I have witnessed artists who were so uncomfortable listening to critique, and who took it so personally, that the peers/colleagues/teachers offering the advice quit doing it all together. The artwork, created by those individuals, (to the best of my observation) haven’t changed much over the years. So, if it is not too presumptuous to proffer my advice: don’t be that person. Learn from others. And learn to take a critique.
I bring this topic up because showing my work to people is difficult for me. At the persuasion of people very close to me, I signed up for an online portfolio review with a very experienced art director. I was intimidated and nervous. Given the director’s years of experience, he had some very direct suggestions for me. They were difficult to hear because they validated artistic concerns that I have had in relation to my own work, but just because they were difficult to admit does not mean that they were inaccurate or rude observations. On the contrary, that discomfort I experienced from that critique solidified, in my mind, the veracity of the director’s observations. I fully intend to follow his advice and listen to his critique. Moving forward, and hope that my momentary discomfort will be am amazing learning opportunity.