Throughout my few short years as a designer in undergrad, it has been easy to get into a rhythm of me accepting that there is no rhythm. No two project, no two instructors, and no two days are alike. I have come to found, though, there is one thing that I cannot avoid: criticism.
As a creative person, it often feels as though everything you create is so close to you. It is hard not to take criticism the wrong way when someone is telling you that what you created with your two hands missed the mark. And I don’t think anything prepared me for that feeling. Prior to college, I was taught to believe that whatever I created was amazing and unlike anything we had ever seen before. Feedback was based on rubrics or science, either you got the question right or you didn’t. In college, you have to transition to a new reality—a reality that we must think critically about our creative work.
As an individual, I have never had an issue accepting criticism. I actually have grown to love it and seek it out in order to challenge myself as a designer. Don’t let me fool you, though. Even after years of harsh critiques, nothing prepares you for the dozens of rejection emails and challenges life after undergrad presents. Just because formal critiques are coming to an end, the flood of criticism is not.
With all that being said, no one enjoys negative feedback. And I am not going to pretend to be an expert, but here my go-to ways to grow from constructive criticism.
1. Be able to listen and accept the criticism. Don’t get defensive—everything has room for improvement. It proves your emotional intelligence when you are able to accept it.
2. Be able to identify when it is actually constructive criticism. This one is huge because I think it takes an advanced mind to be able to tell the difference being conflicting opinions and constructive criticism. Some people critique you to put you down, others critique you to build you up.
3. View critiques as an opportunity to learn. Even if someone’s criticism seems to be coming from an unfounded place, look at it as a chance to have a new perspective. As a designer, you constantly have to put yourself in other people’s shoes and this just provides another opportunity to ensure you’re on the right path.
4. Allow yourself to find as many positive comments as negative. This one is huge for me as an individual. I often find myself keeping track of all of the negatives, mostly to make mental notes as to what to change later, but it is important to not micro focus on these. Especially when it comes to applying to jobs, etc. I find myself counting how many rejections I receive. I have to constantly remind myself to count how many positives, how many interview requests, how many connections and positive outcomes I have had and remind myself that the world is in balance.