How To Handle Critique

How To Handle Critique

Some helpful advice for art students.

As an art major, criticism is something that we face all of the time. Some students are afraid of “crits” (our slang for critique talks), and their trepidation does not fare them well. Normally academic criticism is constructive and is something every artist should look forward to and seek out. As a freshman, it can be very intimidating to have your work put up for others to judge, but hopefully my advice will prepare you.

Josef Albers and students in group critique, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 1960

Do not be afraid.

There is nothing to worry about. It is very unlikely that someone is going to tear you apart, and if they do, the problem most likely lies with them and not with you.

Be prepared.

Time and effort put into your artwork will give others substance to talk about, and then your critique will go well for yourself and others. In this case, you should learn a lot from your peer's or professor’s criticism. If you don’t put the effort in, you will not learn what you need to in order to move forward. It is like they say, "you get out what you put in."

If for any reason your critique goes badly and you get upset about what remarks are being made about your work, just remember that it is just an opinion. If you do not agree with it, then you do not have to take their advice. Just let it wash over you, and try not to let it bother you in the present moment. Try to understand where they are coming from, and remember, they might not be trying to bully you.

As an artist, it is easy to get attached to the work that we create. Sometimes it feels like it is a part of us, but in critique, we need to separate ourselves from the work that we have made and become more objective. The work is made in the moment, but the analytical reflection is just as important. It is also good to keep in mind that while others are critiquing, they are talking about the work and not you. This temporary disassociation from the work can be helpful for not letting any criticism impact you on an emotional level.

As artists, it is our responsibility to give each other feedback.

During critique, you should be an active participant, have questions for your audience about their responses to the work. A sketchbook could be handy for jotting down any comments that you feel are relevant, and writing them down will help you remember the conversation later.

As an artist, it is not wise to fear critique. Embrace it, seek it out, and in the end your work will benefit from what others have to say. Artists don’t exist in bubbles, we are out in the world, and we need each other’s support and advice to move forward in our careers.

Cover Image Credit: Linda Tegg

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To the guy that shot my brother...


To the guy that shot my brother,

On January 9, 2019 my families entire life changed with one phone call. The phone call that my little brother had been shot in the face, no other details. We didn't need any other details. The woman on the phone who called us in full panic told us where he was so we went, as soon as possible. I don't think it helped that not even 10 min prior I talked to Zach on the phone.. kind of irritated with him, and the ONE TIME I didn't say 'I love you' as we hung up. Could've been the last time we ever spoke.. I remember pulling up to the hospital thinking 'this can't be real' 'it's not our Zach' 'this is just a dream Sarah, WAKE UP' I'd close my eyes really tight just to open them, I was still in the hospital emergency parking lot. I could still hear the ambulance sirens coming. It was all real.

The day our life's changed was definitely a test of faith. A test of how strong we were, as a family. I sat in that waiting room ready to see the damage that has been done to my sweet baby brother. Because at that point we had no idea how lucky he got. That glimpse of seeing Zach will haunt me forever. How helpless I felt in that exact moment frequently wakes me up from these horrific dreams I've been having ever since that day. That is a moment burned into my me and families brain forever.

You always hear about these things in the movies or on the news, a house being shot up, someone shooting another innocent person, not to care if they died on your watch. But we found ourselves on the news.. We have been confined to the hospital since that day. Running on barely any sleep, taking shifts of sleep so we don't make ourselves sick taking care of Zach. Watching him suffer. Undergoing surgeries, to repair the damage you did.

Before I proceed let me tell you a little something about the man you shot.

Zachary Keith Wright. A blonde hair blue eyed boy. Who could potentially be the most annoying human on the planet (possibly coming from his sister). A man who loves his God first, loves his family second. Perfect by no means, but almost perfect to me. A 19 year old who was to graduate high school this month. After graduation he was prepping to leave for Marine boot camp in the summer.. being in the military has been Zach's dream since he could talk. Literally. Running around, playing war with underwear on our heads, and finger guns. Some would say we looked like natural born assassins.. growing up he has been a country boy. Let me tell ya country to the core. He loves this country like he loves his family. He believes in helping people, taking charge in what's right, and never leaving a brother behind. He's lived by that his whole life. Until now....

The day you shot him. The day not only did you change my brothers life, you changed his families life too. The day you almost ripped my brother out of this world... for what? A misunderstanding? Because you've let something take ahold of your life that you can't let go you're willing to kill someone innocent over? Luckily for him, his guardian angels were protecting him in your time of cowardice. There were 3 times that day he should've died, the time you shot him, the time you tried to shoot him again as he stared you directly in the face, (even tho he couldn't talk I know you could read his eyes, and he still intimidated you. That's why you tried to pull the trigger again) and the time he was running out of the house. But he lived. A man who was shot in the face, didn't lay there helpless, didn't scream in agony. That MAN walked to the neighbors to get help. Why? Because he's a MAN, and because he's on this earth for a reason.

It's gonna sound a little strange not only to you, but the audience who is reading this. I must say thank you. Even in this situation, this was the best outcome we could get. He gets to live. He will make a full recovery. He will graduate. And he will go off into the Marines. You united my family together. Closer than ever. Thank you. You tested our faith and brought us closer to our God. Thank you. Because of your moment of weakness, you showed us what prayer could do. Heal anything. Thank you. This was a bump in the road, and a helluva way to kick off our year of 2019. But here we are.. all laying in the hospital. I'm looking around as mom is sleeping in her recliner chair exhasted but still here, Zach his awake playing his xbox all hooked up to machines, fighting to heal and get better. And of course I'm writing this letter to you.

See you in trial,

From the girl whose brother you shot.

'Fight the good fight' - 1 Tim 6:12 🤟🏼💙

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