Posts tagged ‘critique’

December 15, 2011

Some thoughts on rejection & criticism.

Maybe my art background and my making my living as a graphic designer has helped me with this, but since I’ve been modeling, I’ve never taken rejection and criticism personally. In fact, you can’t.

Sure, modeling can be raw and real–there are some gigs that are extremely emotionally and physically draining.  And don’t get me wrong, near constant rejection and criticism can be emotionally draining as well.  But if you’re taking it all personally, you’re doing it wrong.

Rejection is the first thing you need to learn how to handle as a model, because it’s what you’ll be faced with the most.

Being a model is all about your look. Your measurements and height, your eye color, hair color and length, your body type, the size of your tits, your skintone, your bone structure… even your flexibility–all of that is extremely important when it comes to modeling. Most of it you can’t change either (yay, genetics) so taking rejection personally is silly. Sure, you can cut and dye your hair or get wigs, get breast implants, buy some colored contacts, tan… you get the idea.  You can spend all the money in the world to change your looks, but even if you do all that, you’ll find that there are still photographers and clients out there that don’t like your look and won’t book you. You can’t please everyone, and if you take every rejection or criticism personally, you’re going to wind up being really depressed and bitter, and you’ll burn out super fast.  Plus, no one will want to work with you because you’ll be a total drama queen about every little thing people say to you too, which no one likes!

Your best bet (and photographers can learn from this too) is to let the rejections roll off your back and keep working to find someone who likes your look. They’re out there! It might be a challenging road, but if you’re up for it, you’ll find what you’re looking for. Just have fun while looking and it won’t be as hard of a search.

Use the criticism you get along the way to grow.  Learn from what people tell you, but don’t let it get to you.  Modeling and photography is a creative industry, and critics come with it.  It’s just how it is, and it will always be that way.  I’ve written about criticism before, but it was a slightly different take on it… though if you haven’t read that entry, it might help make this next part make more sense.

Someone being constructive and offering a critique (especially after you ask for one) is typically being helpful and offering advice, which should be considered.  If someone tells you something you don’t like hearing, take a deep breath and ask yourself “that’s their opinion and I don’t have to agree, but is there something I can take away from what they said to make myself better?”. Don’t take every critic’s words as an attack, because usually, that’s not what they’re doing.  Think about what’s being said and choose to take the advice and learn from it, or not.  It’s up to you.

Those who offer unsolicited critiques of your work should most definitely not be taken personally.  But those critiques might also be worth listening to.  Consider the source when the critique is unsolicited and realize that sometimes an unsolicited critique should be taken with a grain of salt.  Say “thanks for the advice” and (again) choose whether or not you want to take it to heart.

Those who shit all over your work and are stupid and negative and tell you everything they think you did wrong should be ignored, especially if it’s unsolicited.  Haters gonna hate, no matter what you do.  Learn to laugh at the bitter people who have nothing better to do with their time than hate on your work.  It’ll make your life a lot easier.

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March 16, 2011

The 4 Types of Critiques

At the Meet & Greet over the weekend, the subject of critiques came up.  I had been wanting to write on critiques for quite some time, because as a model, you have to be able to handle a critique quite well, or you risk burnout and ego destruction.  However, I’ve been struggling with exactly how to write that blog.  But then a few of us had a conversation on being constructive when critiquing, and I figured that would be a good topic to write on first, especially because it’s something all members of the modeling world deal with, no matter what facet of the industry you’re in.

As I see it, there are 4 different types of critiques: the Unhelpful, the Unicorns & Rainbows, the I’ll Do Your Job For You, and the Constructive.  As someone who makes their living as a creative, as well as being a hobbyist model, I’ve been at the receiving end of all 4 of these kinds of critiques before, and have been from the time I was a kid taking art classes after school.  I’ve also been on the delivering end of most of them as well.

The Unhelpful Critique
This kind of critique is when the criticizer simply tells the artist “I don’t like this” or “this sucks”, without giving a reason or a suggestion as to what can be improved.  Generally speaking, it’s a rather harmful critique as all it really does is damage the criticized party’s ego, without guiding them on improving their work.

That said, it’s not always a critique that’s given with bad intentions.  Sometimes, the critic might honestly not know how to improve a piece–either they don’t have the knowledge to express what needs to be changed, or they might honestly be at a loss for words.  In the latter case, this may mean scrapping the project and starting again, because that’s what needs to be done.

As someone who’s being critiqued, this type of critique is often very frustrating to receive.  Knowing something isn’t good, but not knowing what it is you need to do to improve it is a huge challenge.  Sometimes, it means just stepping back and looking at your art and asking questions.  Largely, the best question to ask is, “what is the ultimate goal of this piece?” because knowing what it is you want the viewer to take away, and making sure you’ve succeeded in that, is helpful.  It may also help to take a break from that piece of art, and work on something completely different for a bit, and then come back to it.  Taking a step away from something, and then revisiting it, might help you see it in a new light.

As a critic, this can be a hard critique to give as well.  Sometimes, you know something isn’t right, but you’re not quite sure what it is about it that’s off.  Of course, saying that instead of just saying “this blows” is helpful in itself, to some degree, but yea.  It can be hard to articulate, especially at first look, what’s wrong with a piece.  I find that thinking out loud can help both the critic and the artist.

The Unicorns & Rainbows Critique
The Unicorns & Rainbows critique is the opposite of the Unhelpful in the sense that the critic raves about how wonderful the piece is, and can’t find anything in it that needs to be changed or improved.  This one could also be called the Mom Critique, because many mothers are notorious for thinking their kids produce the best work out there 😉

It’s rare that a finished piece is entirely perfect, and sometimes, the artist needs to know what it is that’s not right about it (especially if they’re having second thoughts about it, or it is something different from what they normally produce).  Getting a Unicorns & Rainbows critique can be frustrating if you’re serious about hearing what it is about your work that needs to be improved upon.  If you just want to hear how great you are, or can’t handle being told you and your work aren’t perfect, then this is the critique for you!

The I’ll Do Your Job For You Critique
This is, largely, a harmful critique as well.  In an I’ll Do Your Job For You critique, the critic literally tells the creator what they need to do to improve their piece, and in media where it’s doable, the critic may even pick up a brush (or pencil, tablet pen, whatever) and literally do the work.

When discussing critiques, I recalled a painting I’d done when I was a kid (7 years old, I believe).  It was a beautiful still life of a vase of flowers, and my parents framed it and hung it in their house.  And yet, instead of being proud of it, all I could do was look at it with disdain, because it wasn’t wholly my work, and I felt like a fake having it framed and having my parents be proud of me for painting it.  Why?  Because at one point, I was struggling with shading one flower, and when I finally decided to ask for the art instructor’s help, she came over.  But instead of saying “hey, you can try shading that pale yellow with other colors, instead of just trying purple like the color wheel says you should”, she picked up my brush, mixed a few colors, and shaded my flower for me.  She did my job, instead of guiding me by giving me an idea, and thus the tool to do it myself.

An I’ll Do Your Job For You critique is essentially the same thing.  Telling someone exactly what they need to do to fix their work not only robs them of the tool they would learn by figuring it out themselves, but it also takes away their creativity by turning their vision into someone else’s.

The Constructive Critique
This is the most helpful kind of critique.  In a Constructive critique, the critic not only says, “I don’t like this” but tells the artist what he or she doesn’t like about it.  In a photograph, it might be, “the lighting is a little off” or “the pose isn’t that strong” or “the colors are a little washed out”.   Note that the help doesn’t come in the form of actually outlining what needs to be done to fix the shot, but instead simply states what the critic finds wrong with the shot.  This gives the artist a chance to analyze how to fix the issue, which helps them grow as an artist, which is really what a critique should do.

Sometimes, there can be a fine line between a Constructive and an I’ll Do Your Job For You critique.  Telling a new photographer, for example, that they need to use a reflector to lessen the harsh shadows on a model’s face is cutting out some of the guesswork when it comes to lightening the shadows, but it also still leaves them room to figure out where to place the reflector, how to hold it, and otherwise troubleshoot the problem.  That’s a good thing.  If you were on the shoot, however, and you just grabbed a reflector and said, “use this” and then placed and held the reflector for them, then you’ve just done the thinking for them, and the work needed to fix the problem.  That’s bad.  As a critic, it falls on you to know where the line lies, and make sure you don’t cross it.

Best way to serve a critique? The Critique Sandwich
In addition to these 4 types of critiques, there’s also what some call the Critique Sandwich.  This is when someone gives a critique in a format that’s generally “something positive, something negative (or sometimes, a few negative things), something positive”.  Usually, teachers use it so as not to totally bruise the egos of their students, because it starts and ends with a complement of their work.  Often, it’s a good way to give an overall critique.

So there you have it.
My thoughts on critiques 🙂

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