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Thu, Oct 20 2011 16:53:00 UTC

How to deal with peer rejection

It's a common practice in Art. You create something, spend time making it using your own hands, and then you wonder how good it really is. You want to show it around and find out what others think. So you upload it to a forum, an online gallery, or a magazine submission form, and wait for peer review. Whether it's a painting, a 3D render or a video, the process is always the same, and so is the agonizing wait for praises. But what if people don't like it. What if, in fact, you are told that they hated it?



People in the many Art circles aren't known to sugarcoat their opinions much. Online, through the wonderful anonymity of the Internet, it's even worse, with people not holding back when telling another anonymous poster what they think. So how should you react to negative feedback? First, understand that you're not alone. Everyone goes through rejection. If you create something and post it for others to see, some of the others won't like it, and they'll let you know about it. Even the greatest, most skilled artists have had to deal with rejection.

On top of acquiring a thick hide, it's also important to find out why your work was rejected. Typically it falls into one of three categories. Sometimes it's because of valid issues. Maybe you were making an object, but you didn't spend enough time learning its anatomy, and as such the final work is flawed. Another reason for rejection could be tradition. Perhaps most artists are doing things a certain way, and you broke the mold. These kind of criticisms can be valid, or maybe you were trying to do things differently, in which case you should take them with a grain of salt.

The last type of negative feedback is unfortunately the most common, which is purely personal opinions. ''I don't like it.'' This, in my view, is fairly useless feedback, unless it comes from the mouth of your client for which you were commissioning this work. But of course, it doesn't prevent people from speaking their mind, it's just that you should mostly ignore them.

The most important thing to remember is not to base your work on the feedback of individual Internet users. Instead, feedback should be taken as a whole. From everything you've heard about your art, did people like it? Was there a theme, a specific criticism, that kept coming back? Is it something you can fix, or do you consider the comment invalid? It can be hard to wrap your mind around this, but in Art, sometimes it's perfectly alright to say ''I'm right, and everybody else is wrong.'' This isn't politics or economics, where breaking the mold and trying outrageous things can be dangerous. In Art, that's how you evolve.

Now there's people who go further and say never to look at comments or feedback, but that's going too far. It would be doing yourself a disservice to ignore what others think about your work. But comments shouldn't keep you up at night, and the most important thing is what you think about your own work. It's been said that every work of art has to have a reason for being, and the most important, most valid reason, is if you enjoy it, and are proud of what you did.

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