Six tips to survive your critiques
Written by Kate Betts, contributor
While entering college and transitioning from high school may seem like an impossibly daunting task, there’s one more thing that is guaranteed to cause stress: the critique. Part of attending an art school is dealing with the terrifying prospect of having your work critiqued. But fear not. With these six tips, critiques will soon become a matter of routine.
1. Don’t take criticism personally.
Let’s face it: nobody’s perfect and there’s always going to be room for improvement. And that’s okay, because if we never had any chance to get better we’d get super bored super fast. When your professor comments on something that could be improved, they truly have your best interests at heart. In the case of your classmates, they see potential and are trying to help you make your awesome project even better. As hard as it is, don’t take any negative feedback personally — going to art school is about improving as an artist, so take each critique as a learning experience. Absorb what there is to learn from it but don’t let it hang over your head like a black cloud. That would suck.
2. Follow the project guidelines.
Okay, this might seem like a no-brainer, but this is a simple way to avoid major embarrassment on critique days. Read the project sheet two or three times before you even start to brainstorm and make sure to ask your professor if there’s anything that’s unclear. By following the project guidelines you can ensure maximum points and make sure that the comments are going to be things to help you improve as an artist, not about logistics.
3. Do listen to and take the advice of your classmates.
It can be more tempting to run and hide from the critique — or, at the very least, tune out the entire ordeal. But your classmates are very talented people, as is your professor, and they’ll have some solid advice to offer. It’s easy to get angry or upset and refuse to listen to any of what’s being said, but take a deep breath and stay calm.
4. Remember that you did your best.
No one can ask for more than your best. If you fulfilled the project to the best of your abilities then there’s nothing to worry about. Be happy that you worked hard and that you had something to share with the class on the project’s due date.
5. Know that this is a new experience.
Sometimes your classes will require you to work with materials, techniques and even computer programs that you’ve never encountered before, and that’s okay. It’s all a part of the learning experience designed to make you a better artist, whatever your chosen media might be. If this is the case, keep in mind that this is all new to you. Be proud of yourself for learning a new skill and applying it in a short amount of time, and be happy that you have a project to show for it.
6. Keep an open mind.
Someone else might have a different vision for your project than you do — everyone’s creative in a different way. Be open and receptive to new ideas and possibilities.
Critiques aren’t that scary, and you’ll get used to them as time goes by. Remember, take the time to enjoy the experience. Don’t be intimidated and don’t give up.