Creators: Criticism is a powerful weapon

We hear people say, don’t listen to haters or follow your dreams yet, when we navigate the world we sometimes step upon walls.

We in general are subjected to criticism by the simple fact of being public, of being outside living and working in a society with other human beings that think and speak, and in general we all pretend we know the rules of the game but, do we really get them? Now and then we hear people tell us, don’t listen to haters or follow your dreams yet, when we navigate the world we sometimes step upon walls without knowing why they’re there or why we got here, and then we remember about that HATER saying “if you continue like that you will hit that wall”.

Still I do agree with something: Design, photography, art, music and all types of creational work definitely depend on many personal tastes and factors, so there’s no way that all opinions apply always because the truth is, every single critic is biased, by personal likes and dislikes, so of course the possibility that what someone says is not necessarily true or representative of a more general audience, exists.

I’m part of this facebook photography group in which people upload their shots, what they get is either likes or full critics, sometimes, “grudgy” ones. Some people are plain mean, and a lot get mad, but I ask myself, where do get to learn the most: LIKEs, LOVEs or full critics? (even mean ones).

In a world full of negativeness, it’s definitely hard to differentiate if people are well or badly intentioned, this applies specially on social media but all over internet in general, it’s extremely difficult to measure people’s drives whenever they comment or criticise our work, however, when in real life situations, even with friends or family, an advice or review can simply drives us crazy, it can takes us to lose faith or focus, stumble or stutter, basically decrease or confidence or worse, enrage us. It’s quite hard to take the hit of a critic, especially the though ones, and the effect can grow in proportion of the amount of time dedicated to our endeavors.

I have even been asked to speak my mind by friends only to end up losing that friendship for the simple fact of not saying what people wants to hear. I believe specially, we creators, are far from take criticism in a good way.

And yes, some people also don’t know how to criticize, how to measure words to make bad sound “good” or at least to be polite around comments, and that combined with the lack of emotional intelligence of many of us is a simple recipe for disaster.

“Haters can also show you different perspectives, intentionally or not”

This part is when our emotional intelligence has to come in picture, we have to be able to discern the silver lining out of the cloud, we have to be able to grow our mind and experience in order to understand why a certain critic is being emitted related to a specific aspect, why somebody thinks or feels in a certain way that differs from what we intended to develop or execute? we have to be able to transform criticism to auto-criticism, and for this, we need to read, see and hear these, even badly intentioned, individuals.

One of my biggest mentors used to tell me:

There are times in which you simply need to take shit, either if you deserve it or not, so sit down and take it, OWN IT AND LEARN FROM IT.
“There are times in which you simply need to take shit, either if you deserve it or not, so sit down and take it, OWN IT AND LEARN FROM IT”

It is only after you hear many and many critics, after you have changed your work so many times trying to please others, or at least considering to do it, that you reach that FUCK IT stage in which, you close your eyes and tell yourself: I don’t care about what they say. Still, that one is the last step, as in every process, even if empirical, you need to go slowly, and embrace the very first stage, LISTENING TO THE HATERS. Because you need to know why, why they think like that and why it is OK for you to not pay attention, only until you sort of understand what can lead them to reach a certain conclusion towards your work and is that you might find why it is OK to not listen to their reasons. Open your eyes to their perspective, they can definitely point you directions you had not even imagine or considered and even when they’re not trying to, they might show you exactly the path you should follow.

When you’re able to answer a critic, at least to yourself, you’re in a good way. To really know your business you simply need to have been there! and when we act stubborn and don’t listen, don’t even try to get the most constructive out of even the worse of criticisms, we never get there and never grow, and maturity in creativeness depends highly on test/error, we all know that our techniques require sometimes years to be fully developed but we sometimes fail to see the amazing opportunities that receiving critics are, like ashes to grow up a fenix that might shine brighter than any other work you could have presented in any first stsnce.

Once you’ve reached a certain degree of trust, even in yourself, and credibility from others, or not, a simple answer like “Sorry, this is what i do!” might be valid, but please try to be better than believing “critics will only bring you down”, they will not, if you are wise, critics will build you up!

Praise is nice, but it teaches little, it’s criticism, both external and internal, that grows real bones, that someday, takes us to become either better or the best
“Praise is nice, but it teaches little, it’s criticism, both external and internal, that grows real bones, that someday, takes us to become either better or the best”

In spite of how maybe is not necessarily based by it, this story was inspired by one my favorite movies: Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash.