I have spent a lot of time around creative people, and they can be hurt very easily. Even if you jump up and down and cheer, many of them are deeply concerned as the height of your jump wasn't quite as high as expected. And yes, that makes sense, even to me, as I am an artist and like people to show their appreciation.
But if you want to take your art to the next level, to make it better, and more importantly to make money from it, you will need to learn to manage criticism. This is extremely difficult, and I am still working on this.
Managing criticism is something you learn with sales technique. It has to do with asking the right questions, assuring people that just saying "I like it! A lot!" is not really helping. And it's something that you must do. There is no shortage of people who will say stuff like "I don't like it because it sucks", but you really don't need them. This is what you need to.
• Ask "how can I make it better?" As an art teacher, I can tell the difference between someone who is genuinely trying to improve their art, and someone who is trying to lead me into a confrontation. In the classes I taught at The Art Institute there was a particular level that would earn an "A", but it was just a school level. Even the very best student artwork didn't come close to professional standards, and sometimes people would realize that. I had an excellent student once who actually told me to stop just giving him "As" and instead tell him how to make his work better. Needless to say, he went on to get best portfolio in his graduating class.
• Don't argue or become defensive. Yeah, that's hard. But if you have told someone you respect their opinion, you have to learn to take it. Again, this is sales technique. Which is why the class I took at Phoenix College in sales was one of the most important classes I ever took.
Managing criticism is very difficult. But if you want to get better, it's the best thing that you can learn to do. Uh, excuse me, you have some spinach stuck between your teeth... (no, really, I'm not going to say anything, you will get get mad at me - you look fine).
Posted by Brad Hall