5 tips to deal with art criticism

I got hooked the moment Naeem Bukhari; a phenomenal anchor introduced them to the show rules using his good-humored hosting skills. Those of you who are familiar with the work of Bano Qudsia or Ashfaq Ahmed wouldn’t think twice in admitting how amazingly they have served in the fields of literature and Art. But in this show, they were supposed to face only “Critiques”; who were the ONLY audience and belonged to the world of art and literature (Mustansar Hussain Tarar, Firdaus Jamal, etc.).

I watched the entire interview to get hold of the ingenuity with which the writers were hurling back to the critic’s judgment over their creative ventures. They talked over the couple’s successful write-ups and failed experiments masked in humor and light-mannered discussion. For instance, beginning with Ashfaq Ahmed, they mocked ( in good humor) how people walked out of the cinema in between intervals of a flop movie experimented on by him long ago in response to which the couple quite amusingly explained the whole story behind the venture. The critics also questioned some of the contents of Bano Qudsia’s novels (e.g. Raja Gidh) in response to which she explained the rationality behind her write-ups without a hint of losing composure.

The discussion during the interview took place in good spirits with no intention of disrespect, of course. But as with all artists, the writers must have faced a lot of criticism and negative feedback during their course of life. Did they not bring about even more popular novels, write-ups, and scripts? or did they hold back anything said against their beautiful pieces of writing? I believe not. A “skill” that every artist must possess apart from being great at art is a forte of biting the bullet amidst a world full of critiques.

Whether the criticism is humorous or not an artist’s heart skips a pound every time his/ her work is underappreciated by any means. A critic would try to judge an artist’s intellect and creativity process based on his/ her own perspective, knowledge, and experience. Some artists are well-versed naturally in dealing with criticism over their work while others need to learn it with the passage of time.

Take a look at 5 tips that should help artists deal with negative criticism of their work:

Be positive

If a critic has pointed out a mistake in your artwork it won’t hurt to take another look from a critic’s eye and bring it to the discussion. You might learn a technique you were oblivious to before or you might end up convincing about your own “unique” approach toward the subject. Jot down points to remember and do not ponder over the discussion unnecessarily.

Don’t take it personal

Art criticism shouldn’t influence your personal capacity to think creatively. If not an art critic most feedback comes from family, friends, acquaintances, or people who do not professionally belong to the field of Art themselves.  Take it and move on. Do not let the wisecracks attack your motivation to move on to your next project. Keep the critical feedback limited to the particular piece of art rather than letting it sink into your skin and affect your thought process adversely.

Believe in your skill

Though keeping oneself collected and unshakable against criticism isn’t as easy as it seems then that’s a skill set that beginner artists to need to brush up on. As someone wisely quoted that “self-doubt is the anchor that keeps our ships from sailing”, nevertheless who and what pushes you in the state you have the power to lift the anchor up and stay the course.

Use polite phrases

Hold your instant responses until you hear them out completely. Reflect and take a while before getting defensive about your work. The critic would try to judge your idea without knowing the artist in you, which may put you off. Try and use phrases such as, “Thank you for your feedback”, “I appreciate your time and analysis of my work”, or ” please visit my studio and check out more of my work”. Anything new on canvas takes a while before viewers start getting a hold of it. It happened with all famous artists who brought a massive change in art styles so consider yourself lucky every time you face criticism.

Take it as a phase before success

All artists, before reaching a level of success, go through a phase popularly known as ” creative dilemma(ref. book “becoming a life change artist” by Fred Mandell and Kathleen Jordan). They come up with a new idea, face criticism, sit and take it, and bring the idea into existence to get rid of the dilemma which might be received with a lot of criticism. Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Frida Kahlo, and Vincent Van Gogh are a few of many examples who have been through a lot of criticism before their work started to receive true appreciation.

Once you have presented your work out there be prepared to face positive as well as negative feedback. Believe in your skill, own your pieces of art, and be confident about your creativity. By all odds process requires patience and consistency. As quoted famously by an American artist:

“I don’t listen to what art critics say. I don’t know anybody who needs a critic to find what art is.”-Jean-Michel Basquiat 

Artist & Author: Rabia Adnan


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