Criticism and Subjectivity

I’m listening to an audiobook by Robert Greene and 50 Cent, The 50th Law. An excerpt that has stuck with me is “you are a unique blend of chemicals and cells, one that will never be repeated in history.” Basically saying “you’re a special snowflake”. Some may discourage this, but when it comes to creativity, I believe this is something essential for you to believe in.

When I was in college, my black and white renderings teacher told us a story about how when he was in college, he got discouraged by a teacher saying “you can’t draw, maybe you should try your hand at something else”. This one negative verbal communication sidetracked my teacher for decades and put him on a different career path instead of following his passion for illustration. It wasn’t until he was much older and realized he wasn’t going to give in to that thought anymore and he reclaimed what he had lost so many years later.

I had a similar experience a few years ago. It wasn’t until my temper simmered down and personal attachments were disconnected that I realized I had missed quite a few things with my artistic expression. I had looked at things too commercially and not coming from a place of emotion, nothing had a point to it, no story behind it, no symbolism — and in the end, that is what makes great art.

It’s not only about the aesthetics, it’s about the meaning behind it. That is the core of all great art in all of it’s mediums. Examples? Van Gogh cutting off his ear and painting a self portrait after he lost a lover. Music with lyrics or instrumentals to convey a specific human emotion. And, with screenplays, the theme or message of the script, without being too preachy. What is the scribe trying to bring attention to the audience as a “moral of the story” in a sense? If you have the core meaning behind what you want to create, then everything else will eventually fall into place and become easier as the process progresses.

Everyone starts out at the bottom rung. Some people have an innate talent, but what a lot of people fail to realize is that creativity, expressed in all art forms, can be taught and trained to be brought out in spectacular fashion. The ability to tap into your creative zone and pull out something seemingly original and awesome out of the aether is thought provoking. The phrase “hard work beats talent when talent refuses to work hard” was a motto at a gym I attended. Boiling it down, people with a seemingly God-given ability to do something really well, can still be defeated in their skill level by someone without the divine blessing who busts their fucking ass. This is why I loved the movie “Whiplash”. The protagonist literally sheds blood over his passion, numerous times, and his pursuit of perfection and becoming not just a great musician, but “one of the greats”. I personally identify heavily with anyone who has a ton of ambition. I believe that in order to become “one of the greats” you have to sacrifice. Blood, sweat, tears — more than that, a part of our soul might even leak out in the process.

Lastly, all art is subjective. Whoever’s viewing my visual work might absolutely hate it. Another person, absolute love. A viewers perception  When I experienced criticism that made me question what I was doing (with my career, my passion and love for it), I got forum-hate from one guy, but I also got my demo reel featured on a magazine CD, a job offer, and more positive feedback from others. Yet, I let that one negative comment get to me. I think a lot of people let this happen and ultimately, it’s a weak mindset to have and be trapped by. It’s for another post, but if you’re in a strong mindset and have supreme confidence in yourself and your ability, you never let those things affect you.