Friday 16 November 2007

Critical defence

Angry fishermen vent their anger - Wells next to the sea, Norfolk*

Criticism. It's something that anyone working as an artist has to face at some point in their career. Art has a major drawback in that it is a very personal form of expression and to many artists an attack on their work is an attack on them. I have never held that believe because, by and large, i believe that most critics don't know what they are talking about.

During my HND Photography course, i had two lecturers that helped me become the photographer i am today. The first called Simon was just a great teacher of photography - the type of person who can see your strengths and encourage your creativity. He was tough to please but if you got good marks you at least knew that it was good work. There were no compromises with Simon's high standards.

The second lecturer was Jim who, for a nice way of putting it, was a complete b*****d during critiques of work. Students feared his critiques but respected (sort of) the opinion given. We would all go to the college canteen and curse the day he was born but he did us all the biggest favour imaginable.

I learned from those critiques to not give a flying fridge about anyone's opinion but your own. That's not to say that you shouldn't listen to any opinions given but to take any criticism personally is definitely a no-no. In some cases you need to ignore the good comments as well as the bad - if you believe one why not the other?

Most important of all is you MUST defend your work if you believe in it - I certainly did and still do!

* DEFRA stands for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. This is the British Government ministry department that governs the farming and fishing industries.

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