I love a good critique, especially one that points out flaws in the work, giving clues about what to improve the next time around. When I say all reactions are positive, I mean that if your work provokes anything at all, any reaction, that’s a good thing. If you can get someone to share their thoughts and feelings with you, even if they hate it, they are providing useful information. The worst thing that can happen is to garner no response at all, then you’ve really got a problem on your hands.
I had recently been going through the process of refining a collection to get into a local gallery, during the course of which, I had to edit my work several times to accommodate the gallerist’s requests. The first round of edits was expected, the second felt like a pain, but the third time was the charm. Resistant at first, I found that after the fact, she was right, and she did me a favor in pushing the limits of my process. Receiving what she had to say was hard, but what a gift to be given that feedback in the first place. Most people only want to say nice things, avoiding even a hint of conflict.
The first set of dyad earrings went home with Chris Chookiatsirichai, of Tribal Delightful.
It was a challenge for me to get the motivation up to embrace all the things I didn’t want to hear about where I was at with this series. While my work is always evolving, and I strive for improvement constantly, when requests are made that challenge many aspects at once, its easy to want to give push-back. Ultimately, I had to decide which ways I could be accommodating and which I could not. While I didn’t budge on everything, just the act of exploring whether or not those requests could be met helped to move the work forward.
The second pair of dyads went quickly as well. Color, I’ve found, has a lot to do with it.
Everyone should be open to critique. When what I’ve produced is going overlooked or undersold, I can gather so much information from that experience. Maybe it’s too ‘loud’ for the audience at hand, too large for casual wear or priced to high for that particular market. All of this is helping to refine what comes out of the hopper next. Right now, we’re still in the wild-ass idea mode…what if…try this…reconfigure that, but soon things will level out, the vocabulary will become established and a subtext allowed to emerge for interpretation.
In Midwestern culture, we’re trained from an early age not to celebrate our accomplishments, to be overly-modest and to shame those who exhibit pride in their work, never mind being duplicitous about our true opinions. ‘If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all’ is the refrain bestowed on children by Mothers, discouraging honest opinions. ‘Don’t toot your own horn’, they say, but rubbish to that, wave your flag high! These personality traits are misguided and hurtful to everyone. We should all flaunt what we’re proud of, and call it like we see it in terms of offering constructive feedback. How confusing and fruitless to do otherwise. In the words of Carnage the Executioner, “Fuck MN Nice!”.