Painter, Weaver, Textiles Artist
Partial Video Transcript
Prof Lieu: “As an artist it’s one thing to make the artwork, but it’s a whole other thing to take that artwork and put it out there for people to experience and interact with. And I can guarantee you no matter where you put your artwork, whether it’s online or in an exhibition, you’re going to get an opinion.
And sometimes you’re going to get a critique. Sometimes those opinions and critiques, they’re not always the easiest ones to receive. I’m wondering when you’ve had your work critiqued, what’s helped you get the most out of those comments? Because some of them I think are more productive than others. But some you can really grow a lot from if you know how to take them in.”
Yves-Olivier: “Well for starters it’s the best thing. I know some people who are hesitant to have their work critiqued. But I think that the critique is one of the most important processes you can go through as an artist. Because here you are: sitting, staring at this piece for however many dozens and dozens of hours. Your view of it is skewed and you need a fresh pair of eyes, for sure.
The biggest thing for me is never take anything personally, because a lot of my work is personal and based on my own experiences. But when I put it out to be critiqued, I have to separate myself from the work. And say, okay well I’ve made this thing and this thing might be incomplete, or might need a little help. So when somebody says, “You know the color is a little weird”, they’re not talking about me.”
Prof Lieu: “Right.”
Yves-Olivier: “I’m not weird. The thing that I made…”
Prof Lieu: “Is weird.”
Yves-Olivier: “Is a little off. Maybe.”
Annie: “Separating yourself from the artwork is such an amazing thing to do and it’s such a weight that gets lifted off your shoulders. When you finally feel like “Okay, I can listen with open ears and no one’s talking about me specifically”. And that freedom I think makes you just looser in your artwork as well and willing to try more things. Because you know that’s just what it is. It’s just one piece of work and you’re gonna continue to make more and more.”
Yves-Olivier: “Sometimes when a work is really personal to myself, I make a rule of it if I am getting it critiqued, that I’m not going to say anything. I have my notebook and I have my pen and I just listen and I write everything down. It’s really easy to catch on to one little thing that somebody says that they might have misspoke and get defensive about the work. For me sometimes if I am dealing with something that’s personal and traumatic, or sensitive, I’m just not going to engage, I’m going to listen.”
Prof Lieu: “I really do think that listening to a critique, that’s something you have to decide to do. I don’t think that that’s a natural thing that just happens in the process. I think you as an artist have to say to yourself, I’m really gonna listen to this, I’m gonna absorb everything. I may not agree with it and I may not think that that’s what I should do, but I’m gonna at least consider it and I’m gonna give it a shot.Because I think once you start to go on the defensive, it’s almost like you’ve got your ears shut. You can’t hear anything anymore. At that point it’s all over.
I think the other thing to remember is with critiques, you don’t have to listen to everything. You don’t have to take everything in. You can say “You know what? That was a comment that I think is really gonna help. This comment I didn’t find so helpful, so I’m not gonna listen to that”. But if you are combative with the person that’s critiquing you, or if you start saying “Well I did that because I really wanted to…” You know, it just closes the conversation so to keep that open is very important.”
Annie: “And I like that idea that you don’t want to be a passive participant in your own critique. You want to be active and you want to actively listening. And also if there’s something that someone says that you’re not clear about, you should ask.”
Prof Lieu: “Right.”
Annie: “So that you can really get the fullest out of what they’re saying.
Another idea is to treat it as a professional experience. You want to come in and you want to hang up your work straight. You want it to look professional and you want to present it in a way that you’re confident and proud of. And even if you’re not, you’re just gonna have to pretend you are.
Because you don’t want to be apologetic either. If you start making excuses and apologies for your work before anyone comments on it, you’re really already putting it down and that makes it not very productive.”