Yes, we’ve all been there at one time or another. As artists, we tend to pour our heart out into a drawing. We gather up all our emotions and with each line, live out what we put on paper, then serve our soul on a plate for someone to review. And that’s what makes it a little difficult to consider the words “Don’t take it personally” when people are a bit direct in their comments as a reaction to our work.
The comment made in the above example was very blunt and a matter of fact. And although I made fun of it in the comic, it actually did not bother me that much when it happened. The back story to this is that I had received the model sheets for the said character only 2 days before my meeting and had to come up with some drawings for each one of the main characters in the film for them to review, in order to get guidelines and tips on how to properly draw the characters. I had 10 minutes with each of the character animators that day to have them look at something I had done. Not their problem though. I know the last thing they want to hear is an excuse. In this situation, any excuse sounds like the cliché “the dog ate my homework” excuse.
Anyway, after his comment there was a pause and his lingering stare was my cue that he was expecting a response to the remark made. But my answer was as matter of fact as his was, “yes, my drawings need help. That is why I am here. Could you please give me some advice?” The animator seemed taken aback by my plea. I guess it wasn’t what he expected. His tone immediately softened and he seemed glad to help me. And by the end of the session, his opinion of me turned around and he even said that my drawings weren’t that bad after all and maybe even better than some of the artists he has been working with for a couple of years now.
Of course, the same thing happened throughout the day.
But all this taught me that sometimes with these talented artists, harsh comments about your work is a device to humble you. That makes sense since that will open the student’s mind to learning. Basically, it’s a test to see if you are open to learning or not. So, I guess what we can do is keep our minds open. To not let the criticism get us down, but let it enrich us. It isn’t personal.