You can't survive as a creative if you aren't able to take criticism. Simple as that. It's part of the deal once you decide that you want to make things for a living. But how should you handle it when you feel like someone is ripping your work apart?
I actually crave critiques. I want to know what other people think of my art. I want to know what I need to work on. I love to learn and criticism is a crucial aspect in identifying what I need to learn more of.
I've been around people that have a really hard time hearing that something is "wrong" with what they've made. You can sense the tension mounting and see them start to block out what's being said as soon as it begins. But that's not the best way to approach a critique. There's a right way and a wrong way to deal with it:
- DO ask for opinions from everyone. From your peers to your coworkers to your potential customers, each of those individuals has a different point of view that adds value to the feedback you're receiving.
- DON'T dismiss what they're saying because they don't understand art or design. You're hearing a candid response from someone. If something isn't clear to them, perhaps you need to rethink your design so the message is more obvious.
- DO pay attention to what they're saying. Whether you immediately agree with it or not, actually listen to their response. Take notes if you need to. They wouldn't be saying it if they didn't think it was important to highlight.
- DON'T immediately start defending your choices. Be open-minded to their opinions and avoid interrupting them. You don't want to discourage them from giving you useful advice.
- DO ask for clarification. If you don't quite understand their reasoning, ask questions until you uncover what they're really trying to say.
- DON'T walk away until you can identify something to adjust. Like it or not, there is always room for improvement. Nobody is perfect. The whole point of a critique is to help you grow and you can't do that unless you know what to work on.
At the end of the day though, you need to take some things with a grain of salt. It's great to receive criticism from someone but keep in mind that they are just one human being out of the billions that exist on this planet. Don't get yourself down because that one person thinks your art is horrible. Maybe it simply doesn't fit their style...and that's okay. But if you're getting the same response from multiple people, it's something worth exploring in your work.