I ask the questions because all too often I run into this “problem” of having to tiptoe around someone’s feelings in order to deliver constructive criticism. This heighten awareness tends to water down the feedback that is given and in the end its not really helpful at all. I feel that groundbreaking revelations can be made in one’s life and work once those around them are honest with them. But honesty hurts, at least at first, then the sting fades away and you are left with a clear vision of what to do. As a creative we tend to draw on this endless pool of feelings in order to create our work. Be it a painting we spent months on, a design we laid out for weeks, or a photograph we have labored over for days. We put our blood, sweat and tears into the work we create. This helps us make meaningful and memorable materials. When someone has an opinion about it, it hurts. They don’t understand what it took to get to that point, they don’t “get it”, they don’t know how much time it took. So for the viewer they can brush it off as the finished “thing”.
This leads me to the point that when we seek criticism make sure it’s from a valuable source. I giggle to myself sometimes when we have student critiques. One student will be ripping into another person’s work, but if you listen to what they are saying its empty and doesn’t offer solutions. Then you look at their work and it’s just as bad. Contact people you feel have a great eye for your field. If you want quality opinions then you have to go out and find someone who really cares.
I’m currently doing that with my body of work. I’m contacting other designers that I look up to and have amazing work and simply asking them, “what do you think of my work?” Emailing a stranger, is great for two reasons. One, they have no connection to you personally so they can give you honest feedback without the fear of hurting your feelings. Two, once you get their feedback you never have to talk to them again. Lol. The exchange can be eye opening. I’ve been feed the line of crap that “that looks great” and all the praises in the world but are people really being honest with me? You should do the same. Be open to feedback. I don’t care what type of work you do or how good you think you are. Open yourself up, don’t be overly sensitive and reap the rewards. You’ll be a better creative in the end. The truth can hurt, but the healing will feel so much better.