I was pretty good at most everything I learned in school and therefore became kinda cocky over time.
At the end of my Junior year, on the last day of class, my Illustration Professor asked me to stay after everyone left. He told me he didn’t like me. He said he didn’t like my attitude and that I didn’t take criticism well. He explained those were the reasons no one in class wanted to give me any suggestions and why I didn’t have more friends.
I cried like a baby. I knew he was right.
Over the Summer, his words became etched into my mind and I vowed to make serious changes. I promised myself I would listen more and speak less. I would truly listen to all thoughts shared with me about my work, and genuinely thank those who took the time to share. Finally, I promised myself I would consider making suggested changes to my work– that just because it wasn’t my idea, didn’t mean the piece wouldn’t be mine anymore after changes were made.
In the Fall, I had the same teacher (the illustration program was small, so I knew that would happen). After a few months of critiques on projects, he again asked me to stay after class.
I was shaking.
He told me I was a completely different person and he really looked forward to seeing me each class. He didn’t say it, but I could tell… He finally respected me. And for the first time in years, I was proud of, not only being an artist, but being a student.
Those lessons were tough, but they changed my life. To this day, I still value criticism. I have clients and colleagues sending thoughts my way all the time. Many of my clients are afraid to upset me, but I’m quick to tell them it’s part of my job. Once they understand that, I find I’m able to achieve what they want more efficiently.