When you know a critique is coming your way, how do you prepare? Do you tense up and brace yourself for something painful?
I know that’s how I react when I sense criticism—even constructive criticism—heading my way. But I believe that getting honest feedback on my work (from people I respect and trust) is essential to improving as an artist. So periodically I ask my mentors to consider my work and offer suggestions of ways I can improve. And then I buckle up and prepare to be uncomfortable.
It’s tough to face my weaknesses and hear suggestions on how I can improve…especially when I already put absolutely everything I had into it. But I am learning to listen, take notes and ask questions so that I can better understand the feedback I receive. And then I take some time and wait. After letting the sting wear off, I sift through my notes and choose which parts of the feedback to incorporate and which to leave. And then I get back on the horse and try again.
David duChemin’s article “On Critique” (in the October/November issue on newsstands now) delves into this challenging process. He advises, “Few things will help us move forward in our craft as quickly as honest feedback from the right sources. And because I think we learn best when we teach, I suspect that giving honest feedback can also help us grow. But this process of finding those sources and knowing how to receive critique, as well as how to give it, is—like the best of our photography—not always easy.” The article has some great food for thought, whether you are receiving critique or offering it. He talks about who to ask for feedback, explains what critique can and cannot do, and suggests some questions to guide a critique.
How do you feel about critique? Do you have any suggestions for receiving or offering feedback? If so, please share them in the comments!