Why critique can feel like a hit in the face (but it's the only thing that makes you better)

Updated: Apr 26, 2019

We love it when we can help someone and give advice about what steps to take. But receiving it is a whole other ballgame.

Why does it feel like a hit in the face?

When we’re little and grow up, everything we make and do is pretty much awesome. We kick a ball and are send to football to play in a team because our parents think we might be the next Messi. We get a box of pencils, scribble on some paper and before you know it, there’s and exposition of your work in the kitchen. 'Picasso might be admired but fuck him, I’m gonna own the art world.' Basically we grow up and our parents think very highly of us.

But then we reach a certain age and have to get real. We have to go to school and interact with other humans then your be-loving parents. We do the same thing as we did at home and expect the same respons. So we show our precious artwork to these humans and get a ‘that looks stupid'. For the first time in your life you’re not getting a rainbow on your ass. And it kinda hurts.

That’s criticism. Some people are very good at receiving it but most (including me) hate it. Especially if those people don't know what they're talking about. ‘I’m pretty good at this stuff you know, and who the hell are you the tell me what's good or bad?’

Why does it hurt?

First of all it’s expectations. If you expect to get a candy every-time you hit a button but all of a sudden you don't get a candy, it's kinda frustrating. Fuck that button.

A dude named Pavlov did some research to this. In science they call it conditioning. When you’re young and you’re good at something and always get compliments (candy) you get used to it. And we're habit animals so when we're used to getting compliments we don't give up easily. We might hit that button again, and again, and again until we get what we want.

Another thing in play is our ego. Although Freud got a little excited around this theory it's still interesting. We get attached to the things we make. It’s only seeing daylight because we made it. We’re actually the father.. no God of this thing. And just like a self proclaimed god we act like we are this thing. This means that when we get criticism on something we made it feels like we get criticism on ourself. That also why compliments feel so good. It's not the drawing or that's good, it us.

Criticism is never just on a ‘product’ or something ‘external’ at least not for the receiver. That’s maybe why it’s a lot harder to give feedback than to take it.

So what’s good about it?

Some people are very good at giving feedback. But most are quite shit at it and it feels like a turd thrown in your pretty face.

But this turd is actually the only thing that makes you better. Even if it’s from a little brad who know’s nothing. Of course advice from someone who’s been an artist for the last 20 years is easier than receiving it from your next door neighbour (who know's shit). The artist know's what he's talking about, can tell you the why you're doing it wrong and how to do it better, but even more important you look up to this person. So you accept the criticism. Your next door neighbour is this annoying person, who keep yammering about the noise you make. You don't like him or her and receiving criticism from them won't fall right.

And that's exactly where we (instinctively) take a wrong turn. Even if someone we don't like gives us far from elaborate feedback, it's still value-able feedback. We can learn something from them which makes us understand our blind spot a whole lot better. So you better say byebye to that ego, and use them ears your mama gave you.

Why this is specifically important for art

Ofcourse this doesn’t count for drawing alone. Everything we put time and effort in can be art. I’m no financial expert but the whole idea behind blockchain is quit ingenious. The same counts for setting a world record in 100 meter like Usain did.

To get to a level where we can make art means we have to work our freaking ass off. And that doesn’t only mean we have to put a lot of hours in it. It means we should pro actively look for criticism. Yes, even from your next door neighbour who knows shit. Maybe even especially them.

When you get a level where; getting hit in the face, is normal. You’ll eventually reach a level of awesomeness and call yourself an artist.

#artist #shit #art #turd #feedback #criticism #psychology #selfhelp #pavlov


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