I’ve love this quote since Jean Sibelius the first time I read it: “Pay no attention to what critics say. No statue has ever been put up to a critic.”
If you’re creating anything for public consumption, you’ll deal with critics. Even if you just have some ideas you’re sharing with folks, you’ll receive “helpful” criticism. It’s rarely helpful.
Critics feel like they’re helping artists get better. But often they’re simply trashing the work of artists – work they couldn’t even hope to do on their own. Criticism is somewhat of a blight on artistry and only really makes the critic feel good.
And I must admit, at times I’ve been the critic. I’ve trashed other people’s work. I’ve criticized something I have no business judging. Sure, it made me feel better, but it didn’t help me create anything good on my own.
So what’s the solution to this criticism? I do believe there’s a value in separating the good from the bad. But where does the balance lie between helping others find good things and trashing other people’s work.
I believe the solution to the critic is the collector. Follow me here. A collector is one who finds good things and sets it aside in an honored place. Instead of picking through all the choices and throwing things away, they find the good and elevate that. They know what they like. They don’t even worry about what they don’t like. And they celebrate those beautiful things.
It’s a fine distinction. But it’s an important one.
There’s no shortage of junk in the world. And if you spend your time identifying the junk, you’re wasting it. Understanding why you don’t like something will never help you get better. But understanding why you like something allows your to apply those truths to your own work. Your work gets better as you celebrate others’.
So I’m taking precise steps to stop criticizing. I’m going to strive to become a collector. And I look forward to seeing that rub off into my own work.