Handling Criticism

Handling Criticism

I have been coming across a lot of artists of varying genres & as of lately it seems there is a common characteristic being passed around amongst these artists that I’ve yet to fully comprehend.  This one unique trait has to deal with handling criticism.  I prefer to call it the fear of criticism.

If you click here you will find the dictionary’s definition of criticism.  Most artists would probably only pay attention to the first definition which states:  the act of criticizing usually unfavorable…meaning, when other people view or listen to their artistic creations, any type of criticism they receive by default will be destructive.  I choose to pay attention to definition number two which states:  the art of evaluating or analyzing works of art or literature…which simply means, looking at the artistic creation for exactly what it is in an effort to determine if it’s a good or bad.

I recently witnessed an altercation amongst a few artists.  One of those artists was becoming highly defensive & agitated when people would make remarks about his creation in public.  It got to the point that the offended artist was beginning to make physical threats to the other people simply because he did not like what he was hearing.  Now what was he hearing you may be asking?  He was simply hearing some peoples’ blunt dissatisfaction with his latest creation.  There wasn’t any direct verbal personal attacks against the artist; just attacks against his creation.  If you were witness to this creation, you would have shared the same sentiment as the people who had a disdain for it.  The offended artist took the negative criticism or feedback and automatically placed it into the category of destructive criticism.  Negative criticism and destructive criticism are not one in the same.  Negative criticism is simply a negative review on a product.  Destructive criticism is the tearing down of a product for the sake of tearing it down without offering any real input on how it could be better…simply put, it’s hating.

Most artists can not differentiate between negative criticism & destructive criticism.  These artists I tend to come across view everything as being hateful.  My issue with this is:  if you put a product out there for the world to see or hear, then you need to be prepared for the reactions the world will give you in return.  Do not be mad at the world, you put that shit out there…not me!  I’m just expressing my views on it.  Take it or leave it.  Most can’t take it or leave it because they’ve never really been told by anyone outside of their inner circles of family or close friends that they are just not that good & could use a lot of practice in a lot of different areas.  It’s a cold world once you decide to let everyone know of your artistic talents…trust me, I know firsthand.

So how does one handle criticism?

  1. You can choose to listen to the good, the bad, and the hateful.  You then see if there may be anything worth listening to throughout all of the feedback in order to possibly help you move forward with your next project.
  2. You can choose to ignore it & keep doing what you are doing.
  3. Don’t ever take anything personal.  You put your art out there for the masses, well the masses have differing opinions.
  4. Fine tune your craft towards your fans because at the end of the day, that’s all that you should really be concerned with.

If all else fails, always consider thinking about this:  what’s worse, receiving silent treatment or people giving you feedback on your work whether it’s positive or negative?

I think getting hit with the silent treatment is far worse because even in you do get the negative, destructive, or even hateful feedback; at least the person(s) giving you the feedback took the time to check your stuff out.  Isn’t that what most people want anyways; for somebody to check out their work?

Criticism, it can be the sweetest words to your ears or the harshest words you’ll ever hear.  Depending upon how you receive the message it can simply make you or break you.  Take it all in stride as a part of the growing pains we all must endure on our never ending quest to be the best.

“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” –  Aristotle

So how do you go about handling criticism? Share your thoughts in the comments.

photo credit:  Thomas Hawk

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