This week has been full of unglamorous tasks, like digging out the studio from an unholy mess, cleaning up chocolate debris, and so on. I’ve also been writing posts for my book blog, and am now about a week ahead, good enough for now. I have lots of things pressing for my attention, and not very much time to do them in!
Anyway, I just started writing the chapter on improving your designs/critiquing your work. It opens with some advice to the beginning designer on how to survive critiquing your own work. I thought I’d share my #1 piece of advice, and so here is an excerpt from the book-to-come:
Many beginning (and not-so-beginning) crafters are terrified of critiquing their work, or of showing it to others, because they’re afraid of being told their work sucks, that they’re not a “real” artist. They’re afraid of being exposed as frauds without a shred of talent.
This, while understandable, is total hogwash. Anyone who creates is an artist, even if the piece is as primitive as a child’s ashtray. And talent, while handy, isn’t what makes a piece good or bad. What produces good work is skill, and skills need to be developed. In short, your early work will almost certainly suck, especially compared to your later work (or to the experts who have been doing this for decades). This has nothing to do with talent and nothing to do with being a real artist; it’s just the way life works.
Which brings me to my cardinal rule for critiquing: Don’t judge yourself by your work. That is, don’t look at a poorly designed piece and think, “I suck.” Every artist, including wildly successful and sophisticated ones, started out with work that sucks, and continues to produce some pieces that suck. A piece that doesn’t work is simply a piece that doesn’t work. It means you experimented with something that failed, and you need to understand why it failed so you can improve your next pieces. But it doesn’t mean that you suck, or that you’re not an artist. If you don’t like your work, then figure out how to improve it! But don’t decide you aren’t an artist, and don’t give up. Your work is not you.
Off to work out! I have taken up exercising again (and started a low-carb diet) in addition to everything else, which is contributing to my lack of free time. But worth it in the end, I hope!