It can be as intimate and intimidating as writing your exact thoughts on a page and asking for it to be read. You do what you know and you come up with something you feel good about. It is now out there for others to decide how they feel about it, whether you care or not. It is an exercise in resilience and learning. Feedback can take you in any direction you allow it to, it is about how you navigate the feedback and perceive its worth.
Negative feedback can be one of those insanely over-lit billboards that almost blinds you while you navigate heavy traffic and is only there to promote the already passed all-male revue event. It’s uselessness pisses you off, might cause a car accident and you now have male strippers on your mind whether you like it or not.
It could also be the kind of billboard with a reasonable level of lighting, is still somewhat distracting from your drive, but one that warns you the road is icy and to slow down. This is the kind of feedback that can help you to consider what you are doing, and refine your technique.
Constructive feedback can sting but it can also be a cathartic experience that unlocks the next level in your life, like drinking a coffee so good that you declare you will never return to drinking the surfactant dirt-water that required no more than a rusty kettle and a mug to ‘brew’. You have graduated from the bog of International Roast, and refined your taste and technique.
This is what drawing pages and pages of line drawings has done for me. It has taken me from being stoked with my scrap cartoons scribbled in sharpies on the front of my year 12 binder in a nod to Green Day’s cover art, to knowing why the weight or curvature of a line can completely change the way an image is perceived.
Feedback is why I have gained confidence in asking for feedback, despite the risk that I may be told by a Nescafe drinker of an artist that what I consider to be my Batch Brew level of drawing is not clean enough. It is a loop that can either take you down or fire you up.
I still somewhat believe in the idea that you should only ask and take advice from people who you aspire to be like. For example I don’t take financial advice from someone who has a credit card to pay for their credit card that was used to take out a loan for a holiday for which they needed to take unpaid leave.
So when it comes to my drawings and paintings I tend not to ask for constructive feedback from my father for example. He has a background in mechanical engineering and a penchant for proclaiming ‘a four year old could have blown that out his arse!’ when viewing abstract art. So aside from his ‘I like it!’ fatherly comments on my artwork because he wants me to feel loved, I wouldn’t be too fussed if he was to poo-poo my work.
My high school art teacher however once told me I was taking shortcuts and producing rubbish for the sake of being a bit weird. Did this hurt? Well I was probably half a Vitamin Water bottle full of raspberry Absolut by that lesson, so probably not. However this did help me to see that I was pushing the boundaries of the brief just because I wanted attention, and not because I genuinely enjoyed drawing. I was heavily influenced by Jean Michael Basquiat at the time and believed that the only way I would be able to produce art is by being semi-conscious and hanging out with other unhinged characters like Mr Warhol.
I love the creative world for its lack of boundaries and restrictions and for the way it makes society less grey, unless that is the shade you’re going for.
I like that I can be manipulated by a fat pillar-box red typeface on a creamy pink background into buying a book that I have absolutely no interest in reading the contents of. I just want it because of that colour combination and composition.
Seeing dilapidated city walls coated in layers and layers of decaying concert posters doesn’t make me want to go to a Kate Miller-Heidke concert more than I want a colonoscopy performed in the city square, but it does make me stop and look.
Compositions of images and text, colours and shapes have the ability to make you feel and think in a way that diverges from whatever else you were thinking and feeling before you saw them.
Mostly, I love that behind every design and every artwork (accidental or not), there is someone who has created it. These people have enough guts to know what they like, and enough courage to believe that someone else might like it too. They may be at the point where they could not give a rats arse what you have to say about it either.
Alternatively, they could be emerging from a decade of repressed ideas and fear of judgement, so don’t shit all over them.
Whether you are a creative or someone seeking work from a creative, remember we are all in pursuit of something, and it usually is not to be suppressed or poo-pooed. We all have enough trouble avoiding doing this to ourselves.
If you’re seeking something creative, marvel at the bravery of those who do the creating. If you’d like to give feedback, consider how you can help them advance from instant coffee to a more refined brew in a way that is kind, helpful and inspiring. But don’t insult their character because their choice in drinking instant (hot garbage juice) is not what you like.
Creative? Go and create something and choose whose feedback will help you level up, it’s worth it. If you’re ready to graduate from hot garbage juice, I recommend you try the silky smooth blends from Zimmah. No stress, just an idea.