Having Thick Skin As An Artist

Introduction

In almost any line or industry of work, having a thick skin can be so beneficial that it basically becomes a necessity.

Being/having thick skinned is defined as “Someone who is thick-skinned does not appear to be easily hurt by criticism”. Take note: It doesn’t say that they do not listen to criticism or refuse to improve, they are just not easily hurt by it.

Having thick skin means you are thick skinned. This can be said for many other lines of work as well. In lines of work like for example customer service where you either get criticized heavily, rightfully or not, by your clients or your superiors, you cannot let yourself be affected too badly and/or emotionally by it.

If you do let yourself be affected, a spiral/feedback loop of “oh I’m not good” leads to more mistakes, less self esteem, etc.

Creative Side

This applies heavily to creative people who create, like artists. Its the norm to get attached, sometimes too much so, to your artwork/creation and any criticism/feedback of it can feel like a strong personal attack on your character or as an artist.

Its likely that you will be attached to everything you create, its just on what level of attachment you are in relation to it, and depending on that, you will feel differently on feedback about your work. Its likely even possible to not be attached in the most basic of form, as it is something you yourself created, you can never deny that basic attachment that way.

Its common to feel scared, nervous, worried, emotional, etc. especially as an art student going into feedback sessions for the first time, getting used to feedback sessions where the teacher could be tearing your work apart (in the old traditional art school days with no digital backup, they do literally tear it in front of your face) in front of your peers making you also feel lesser as a result.

Artists will usually tie a level of self-worth to their creation and thus feel worthless when their creation is torn apart or received poorly by lecturers/superiors/etc.

The “tearing of artwork in front of students” defense argument would be about making you more thick skinned to feedback and accept that you can always do better artwork the second time around and that you shouldn’t get too attached to what you have created.

I agree with the intended goals of the act but I am unsure of the act’s effectiveness itself, in terms of morale and its uselessness in the digital era of today.

Regardless, growing thick skinned and not letting feedback and criticism affect you and your perception of your own self-worth while still working on the feedback and criticism if it is valid is the ultimate balance.

Good lecturers are honest and genuine when they constructively criticize you because they want you to improve and be better. Bad lecturers will say they want to achieve the same thing but lambast in an unneeded for-your-own-good “brutally honest” way.

If you let the bad lecturers get to you, you will let it affect your art journey immensely. Be/become thick skinned, know how to sift through the genuine constructive feedback from the bad and don’t let the good or the bad affect you too much. Or at least don’t let it show to those lecturers that want to see you suffer in the guise/”noble” motive of “developing character” because the “industry is much worse than me”.

Here are more articles I wrote on art:

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Stay safe~!
JR

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