The Critic

This week’s Escapist is talking about constructive criticism. Yahtzee himself chimed in on criticism on one point:

Criticism is a powerful force for good. Nothing ever improves without coming to terms with its flaws. Without critics telling us what’s stupid and what isn’t, we’d all be wearing boulders for hats and drinking down hot ebola soup for tea. – Zero Punctuation: Overlord 2

I could make all sort of analogies for criticism. There’s the bonsai tree example, the fat on a steak visual, the sanding of a bat to remove its splinters for a nice clean hit; I could go on. But suffice it to say that the best criticism is one that sees what a work is going for and points out the flaws so that the crux of the work can be improved while things that don’t work can be discarded.

Declaring something to be absolute crap is a great way to appear critical and level up on the Internet, so that’s what some critics will go for. This should not, however, deter the creative mind from letting criticism getting in the way of creating something. Even if said criticism is coming from that selfsame mind.

Even if you’re not looking at your art as a means of income, and it’s just something you do for fun, critics shouldn’t deter you from trying to create something if you’ve the mind to try it. However, some criticism is meant to be constructive, while other criticism becomes destructive very quickly. There’s a world of difference between “This sketch needs work,” and “Your art is horrible and will never improve.”

It comes down to a difference in mentality. Some people want to cultivate dreams in this world, to help bring a new vision to life. This requires a lot of effort, though, more than some people are willing to put into a creative endeavor, and it can be a scary thing. Like the man said, there will always be mediocrity out there, people who can’t deal with the extra percentage of effort some put into what makes them passionate. That, I feel, is where a lot of destructive criticism comes from. But I could be wrong.

Anyway, you can’t be afraid to put your work out there. Good criticism will help your work get better, and bad criticism can pretty much be ignored. Just like there is such a thing as good & bad writing or good & bad film-making, there’s good & bad criticism.

Test everything, and hold on to the good.