For those of you who aren’t familiar with art school life, I studied at a prestigious design school internationally ranked the best. As soon as I got there, I was surrounded by hundreds of others from all over the world (but mostly from Korea and for some reason, New Jersey) who were just as skilled, if not better than me and it was intimidating.
Imagine having a limited time to use all your wit, brain-power and research skills to come up with a concept as fast as you can, and then spend HOURS crafting, designing, measuring, illustrating, building, creating. Whether you’re proud or unhappy with your work, when the time is up you have to display in front of your professor and peers and listen while they talk about everything that’s right or wrong with it. And if they ask you questions, you have to arm yourself with intelligent, non-defensive answers. That’s just for one studio class. You’re taking three (sometimes four if you have a time turner) every semester along with writing essays, reading Machiavelli, and memorizing art history dates. That’s more hours of work than someone with a 9-5 spent on projects that might just get criticized when you only want praise and validation. Could you handle that?
Yes you could, if you separate judgement from critique. When you receive a comment, no matter how much it hurts your ego to hear, you have to try to filter the negativity and judgement from it and listen to the message. And when you give a critique, you try to do it objectively and without judgment. It’s not about developing a thick skin, it’s about taming your ego. That’s how you grow.
I’m writing this because so many of you think humility is about wearing turtlenecks and pretending like you hate yourself when really it’s about recognizing the flaws and working to improve.