THE THICK OF IT: CULTIVATING RESILIENCE IN THE CREATIVE DESIGN INDUSTRY
You’re probably familiar with the concept of ‘thick skin’, right? Dictionaries define it as “the capacity to weather criticism, rejection, or negative feedback without becoming distressed or offended”. Perhaps, like myself, you were considered an ‘artistic’ type when growing up (i.e., you were forever drawing). You may have also been commended for your unique outlook and originality of thought. However, upon starting out on your inevitable career in the creative industry you’ll soon realise that glowing praise in the professional arena is about as rare as rocking-horse sh*t and in its place you’ll meet your new arch nemesis: Criticism.
Criticism, in its numerous forms, is a reality every creative must come to terms with, no matter how skilled or experienced they are. Although it might not always be easy, it’s vital to develop a resilience to critique and not allow it to undermine your confidence or question the merit of your work. Constructive feedback can, actually, be a valuable tool for growth and improvement. It compels us to refine our work, expand our skillset, and ultimately elevate us as designers. Without it, we risk being stuck in a creative rut.
“You can’t operate a company by fear, because the way to eliminate fear is to avoid criticism. And the way to avoid criticism is to do nothing.” - Steve Jobs
Having said that, it’s also true that we can easily become too emotionally invested in our projects - they can actually become our ‘babies’, which can make any criticism feel like a personal attack on our very identity and on our abilities. But it’s important that we take that criticism, not as a reflection of who we are, but rather as an opportunity to improve.
In conclusion, feedback can be seen as a gift. It may be tough to hear, but it’s essential to the creative process. Cultivate a thick skin, approach feedback with an open mind, and use it to your advantage. Equipped with these tools, you will flourish in your career.
“The greatest artist was once a beginner.
The greatest oak was once an acorn.
The greatest journey started with a single step.
You are never too old to learn,
and you are never too good to receive criticism.”