How to Handle Criticism From Yourself

When I first got on the road to begin my art journey, to find my unique voice, let me tell you, there were lots of bumps on the way. I faced failures (and still do).

I was entering a new unknown place, attempting something I had never done before, and to be honest, no one had ever done before. Because no one can create like me, and no one can create like you. We all have our unique styles. You are on your own journey. You are the only person that has ever or will ever take it. Isn’t that fascinating?

I would draw and the self-bashing would start. “You have no talent”, “Look at what a mess you have made”, “Who do you think you are anyway?”, “You really think people will like this?”, “You call that art?”, “Look at all the greats, you are nothing compared to them” and on and on.  

What I didn’t understand then and what I have now understood is that every artist feels this way at one point or another. Because if you are doing something out of the box, exploring something untouched, you are not going to get it right a lot of the times. There will be tons of mistakes. Honestly, that is not a bad thing. Not a bad thing at all.

Failure is to be welcomed. Let it in. It is a badge of honor, an award. Anyone can do the thing someone else is doing, make the painting that has been made so many times. What is so different about your art then? Be proud of yourself that you are putting out your voice in the world.

As artists, we need to be able to look at our artwork with an objective eye (easier said than done, I know, but give it a try). That is DIFFERENT from criticism. I have learnt to frame the criticism into questions, into creative puzzles. That’s what we are best at doing as creators.  Instead of thinking, “Oh no, this paint is so watery and runny on the canvas. It is ugly”, I think “How can I turn this into something beautiful using my style?”. Instead of thinking “Oh man, this color didn’t stand out the way I thought it would”, I think “Hmm… what color can I blend it with or what color can I put around it so that I get the effect I was going for?”. Instead of thinking “This is such an ugly disgusting mess”, I think “Maybe this got a little bit too playful. Do I need to make this more structured and controlled?”.

Turn that criticism into analysis instead of making something gone wrong something bad about you. Convert your negative thoughts into a fun problem to solve, into a game. You got this. You have the talent, you have the skill, you have the uniqueness. You just need to steer your thoughts into the right direction.

2 thoughts

  1. I love your post. It touched me deeply and relieved me. We are on the same wave length. It s exactly how I try to work although I of course sometimes get into self criticism. Art is a search that goes best when it is taken like an exploration trip and forgiveness, curiosity and spontaneity bring more joy and more beauty than self depreciation.

    • Thank you for your touching comment. Am glad to hear that it helped. Yes absolutely- the more we see it as learning and growth, and just having fun with it and less as something we can’t do is better.

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