The Beauty of Gray

As an art school student, there are few things scarier than a critique.  You’re always afraid of what people will say, and as a freshman it’s hard not to take it personally.  But these critiques are what push you to refine your design, craftsmanship, and voice.

Since graduation, I’ve missed having the feedback these critiques gave me.  I actually audited classes when I lived in an apartment to have access to the studio equipment at the local college, and there was always a “class critique” at the end of the semester.  I would get a lot of positive comments on my work, but they were never very constructive.  I wasn’t being forced to think about my work differently.  The other students seemed not to want to say anything that might be thought of as negative.  I’ve noticed this in other contexts since then.  Have you noticed how reviews of movies, books, and music seem to have become softball?

Recently I read somewhere that children who are always told that what they do is great learn not to push themselves to do any better.  They are always happy with what they’ve done and the way they’ve done it.  What incentive is there to get any better?  I would say that treating them the exact opposite would have the same effect.  If you were always told that your work was horrible, you would stop even trying.

These days it seems that all people will tell you about your work is “I love it” or “I hate it.”  But why?  What makes you love or hate it?  How could it be made better?  What strengths and weaknesses does it have?  There is a lot of mediocrity out there.  Sometimes what we need to hear is a little constructive criticism to knock us out of our safe place.  Without risk there can be no gain.  Sure you might make a mistake, but that’s how you learn.  We need to step outside the realm of black & white.  It’s within the shades of gray that we learn to challenge ourselves and to see things from different perspectives.

So now I challenge you to give me some criticism.  Look at my gallery and tel me the strengths and weaknesses you see in my work.  And please, be constructive.  If you would like us to give your work a critique as well, leave a link to your gallery or blog.  Let’s knock mediocrity on its butt and push ourselves toward more resolved design, better craftsmanship, and to find our true voices.

3 thoughts on “The Beauty of Gray

  1. Alright, I’m going to jump in the pool here…but I expect you to do the same for me because I really, really need it. I’ll email you though because it’s a pretty specific question…

    [BTW, am I the only one responding here, or did others email you off-blog??? I feel weird…]

    So–your work. Honestly, and not spoken out of cowardice to criticize…I don’t see much to criticize about your work. I LOVE the cohesiveness of your designs. They’re all very different from each other, yet the theme is VERY obvious, and you’ve done a really good job of keeping it all interesting. –Sometimes (and I fear this myself), you can come up with a theme that you want to pursue and that seems to have a ton of options, but it just ends up fizzling out and becoming boring. Not here.

    Your pieces are all quite contemporary, and designed such that they’re bold enough for people who want to wear bold, unusual designs, yet they’re “safe” enough for people who don’t want to get too…the word escapes me.

    Now, the ONLY “criticism” I might have is that, with your newest earrings–while I love them, personally, they are indeed a wee-bit on the “easy to knock-off” side. So, I would perhaps step up the game a little bit there. Complicate them a little more to draw on the themes from some of the components of the other stuff…you can still use your fold-form base, but add more to them like you’ve done with some of your other non-earring pieces.

    Alright. I’ve said enough. I saw this and wanted to respond, but just haven’t had time. Hope this helps.

    Alright, girlfriend, you owe me one…I’m hitting you up with an email soon. 😉 And I want THE TRUTH!!!

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    1. Thanks for taking the plunge. I’ll be looking for that email! I’ll have to think about what to do with the earrings. They’re my weakness design-wise. It’s so hard for me to think small, which is also why I don’t do rings.

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