If you read this blog on a regular basis you’ll probably appreciate that this was recorded some time ago (and that I didn’t publish my first sketch ‘yesterday’ but about three weeks ago). Even though the whole point of sharing the artwork was really about being an amateur and documenting skill and technique that will (hopefully) grow slowly over time, it was still a very nerve racking experience.
I’m sure there’s something to be said for containment, about not sharing your work too early or too indiscriminately – especially for beginning artists or ‘recovering’ artists. But I think too that being open to feedback and criticism is a creative muscle and the only way you develop that muscle is by putting yourself in situations where you can receive feedback.
When I reflect on my YouTube experience (as JohnOfJordan), it wasn’t that my videos became perfect over time so much as that negative feedback just didn’t phase me as much. I had experienced it before and lived through it. I could read a comment and decide if the feedback was valid or if it wasn’t, if it was about my work or if it was about the person leaving the comment. Though I won’t lie to you either, that first time I sang a song on YouTube and received a one word comment – ‘disgusting’ – I deleted the video and it was a long time before I shared anything musical on that website again. And that is always the temptation, to take your work and bury it, to never let that song be heard by anyone or to let that novel rot in the bottom drawer. On paper it kind of makes sense too, you don’t want to feel like that again so the easiest thing is to not create and not to share. But really what you need to do is take a few more of those hits so they don’t hurt as much, and what you need to do is go back to creating.
This is a message we all need to be reminded of at times. I’ve seen submission deadlines come and go and while I could’ve sent something – often times I’ve even created something specifically for this purpose – I haven’t, just because I didn’t want to be judged.