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Illustration- Minor in Theater Arts
Syracuse NY

Taking Criticism

Clarissa Baston on Tuesday, 22 September 2009. Posted in Advising & Support, Coursework, Faculty, Student Life

Hey everyone!  It’s been a while since I’ve blogged and I apologize.  Anyways, I just started my fourth year here at RIT and I am really excited for this year.  I started the quarter a little rocky due to my severe allergies turned sinus infection.  I thought I might get the dreaded swine flu!  But I chugged along and I am feeling 10 times better. 


This quarter I am actually taking a couple freshmen classes.  This is because I changed my major the end of my second year and I basically forgot that I had to take those classes.  Taking these classes isn’t too bad…I just feel really old…


I am currently taking a freshman foundation illustration class and had my first critique last week.  It was a little painful.  Now when I was in high school, I never experienced a critique and didn’t exactly know how they worked.  So when I started my freshmen year of college and had my first critique, I was scared senseless.  I am quiet enough as it is, but during the critique, I tried to be close to invisible.  I was so afraid of saying stupid or having my work verbally abused.  But over the years and after countless numbers of critiques under my belt, I am more comfortable in voicing my opinion and taking criticism.  I do wish, however, that I knew the things I know now when I was a freshmen.  So here are a few tips on critiques for you guys who are looking into our College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.

#1. Don't Take it Personally-  This is a big one.  As artists, we grow attached to our work and it almost becomes a part of us.  We spend so much time on our pieces that you can't help but be a little clingy.  So if anything negative is said about your work, it feels like you are being attacked or insulted.  I remember working on a project for a total of 20 hours and during my critique, my professor said that my work was at a high school level and gave me a C.  I was furious.  But I eventually got over it and realized that professors are not gunning for you.  They are there to help you master your craft and become better and well rounded artists. (As cheesy as it sounds)

#2. Speak up!- My main flaw is that I am incredibly reserved and shy.  During critiques, I often tried to sit in the corner and mutter my opinions to myself or to my friends.  When my professor called on me, I froze and just ended up saying something of no real value.  When looking at your classmates' work and you see something that could be tweaked, address it when it come up!  Not only are the professors here to help us, but we have to help each other.  If everyone just kept their mouth shut, there is no way anyone could improve as an artist.  And don't be scared of offending anyone...if it's constructive criticism, then it is definitely worth saying.  Think of it this way...If something was wrong with you work, wouldn't you want someone to tell you?  Also...if you don't speak up, the professor will tend to ramble and the critique will go on longer than it needs to.

#3.  Nobody is Perfect- I tend to compare myself with other Illustration major and get very jealous.  When you see other peoples' work and you think that it is awesome and you wish you were at the same level, STOP.  No project is perfect.  There is always something that could be improved upon or changed.  Don't beat yourself up because you think other people are better than you.  You can use that as motivation to work harder and be better. (Again very cheesy)

#4. Don't Make Excuses- I am the master excuse maker.  I once told a professor that I didn't have my project with me because it was really windy one day and my painting blew away and landed in a puddle of mud.  Yeah...I knew he didn't buy it, but I still kinda got away with it.  But that's not the point.  Professors are smart enough to know when your covering up for laziness or poor execution.  Some professors call you out on it, while others let it slide.  Either way, if you can't take responsibility for your grade suffers.  (I ended up getting a D in that class)

And Finally...

#5. Don't Fall Asleep!!!- this one is pretty self-explanatory. 

Anyways, I hope this helps a little and I am looking forward to seeing some of you at Open House this weekend!!!