Why isn’t it possible to be good at anything? I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately.
We essentially give everyone a trophy for signing up for the league. In all my classes this last semester, it became very awkward not to exalt bad work and being the only one to say “that’s bad, here’s why it’s terrible, here’s how you should try again”. You become “the hater” after a little while of doing that, which makes the whole time spent in the classroom or around my peers rather pointless.
When did it suddenly become okay to not say when something is bad or that someone is doing something without excellence? I’m speaking mainly about creative work. I would love to be told my work is bullshit for valid reason (other than your shitty preferences). My growth as a creative and a designer has been stunted for all the time in the classroom I spent having already known how to use Photoshop and InDesign (plus I’m out all the money I spent for classes).
There’s this pervasive attitude that just because someone decides to do something, they’re automatically great at it. And beyond being a member of the kiss-ass chorus behind them, it would be a crime and travesty that would require Michael Moore to make a fucking movie about it, to tell them their work isn’t that good.
How much of a disservice are you doing for that person? If you never criticize someone, you’re lying to them. You might be a nice liar, but a liar all the same. Yes, no one’s feelings will be hurt, but no one will excel beyond where they’re at in their craft.
But ironically, if you are any form of a critic, people write you off.
I would like to be better; a better designer and a more precise communicator. Now, short of skating by to finish my useless BFA and my spending a bunch of money on an MFA, I’m not entirely sure what to do.
The only advice I can run to is from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Ten Thousand Hours”:
See, I observed Escher
I love Basquiat
I watched Keith Haring
You see I studied art
The greats weren’t great because
at birth they could paint
The greats were great cause
they paint a lot
For me, I think what I will do is code more, spend more time with CSS and more time with Photoshop tutorials, and certainly more time comparing my work to other professionals (and seeking their opinions).
This whole culture of choosing not hurting anyone’s feelings vs being honest, isn’t helping myself or the people around me to become excellent. I would like to be excellent and it’s my hope that you should, too. Honestly, if you’re not striving for excellence or at least to be better, what the fuck are you doing? There’s an endless sea of retail positions, cash registers and deep friers to be manned by people without dreams. I like dreaming, I like pushing further, so I will continue to do so.