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What’s wrong with this picture?

March 16, 2011

What do you do, if someone questions your creative work, if they are not as overwhelmed or enthusiastic as you expected?

Do you sulk or argue, tear it down or screw it up. Do you seek out another opinion to undermine the initial appraisal? What if they agree? Or worse, what if you get numerous opinions and they all appose one another, won’t that just distill the overall feeling to indifference? What’s the point of that?

Do you have a solid opinion of your work yourself, a structured argument for each and every element that you will defend to the death? If you take on board the opinions of others, is it still your work? Can you still feel the same sort of ownership you had when that initial creative spark burned in your mind?

If we take pride in our work, criticism will inevitably feel personal. Questioning the motivations and worthiness of the opinion is sometimes needed, but listen carefully and use what you can to grow. If we find balance between defending the work we believe in and using feedback to strengthen it, we will leave every project better prepared for the next.

What do you think, am I wrong?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 17, 2011 12:39 pm

    If we find balance between defending the work we believe in and using feedback to strengthen it, we will leave every project better prepared for the next.

    I agree to this point; but have to add that we need to have the perspective and insight to understand if the person who is sharing feedback on the work has the knowledge on the subject matter. If they do not; then many times it is simply a waste of time to do either.

    • March 17, 2011 7:36 pm

      Thanks Kapil, totally agree – we need to be happy that whoever is critiquing our work has the best intentions for the project and aims to build on what we have done rather than crush it. It’s what I meant with – “Questioning the motivations and worthiness of the opinion is sometimes needed, but listen carefully and use what you can to grow”. Paul Arden wrote “Do not seek praise. Seek criticism”, yet we need to seek and establish opinions we can trust.

      Thanks for your comment, Nick.

  2. March 24, 2011 5:55 pm

    Hi Nick,

    Just found your site through Mother’s Always Right. Really enjoying reading your posts.

    I’m glad to hear someone say that personal investment in a creative project naturally entails that any criticism will be taken personally. I think creative projects are particularly vulnerable because there is so much of the self that goes into it; not just in terms of time and energy, but also personal experience and expression. If it’s creative, it’s likely to contain many new elements (that haven’t been ‘done’ before), so it’s not possible to hide in a safe, common space – you’re pretty exposed.

    And I agree with you that opinions need to be dealt with carefully. Give them too much, and they risk crushing your creativity (and pushing you back into a safe, unexposed space). I guess a useful device might be to ask oneself: what’s my opinion on this opinion?

    Truffle

    • March 24, 2011 7:42 pm

      Hey Truffle, thanks for the detailed comment. I find with personal projects I try and give as much of myself as my confidence allows. With my professional work though, it’s their project and their money so they rightly always have the final say. I still figure that people want to work with me because of ‘me’ though so I try to offer my personal creative approach. Thanks again.

      Nick

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