Did you know there are hidden dangers of feedback for the artist.
Why did the artist cross the road?
Because she wanted to get run over by a truck full of ‘feedback’.
I recently came to understand something essential to my creative process and it may or may no resonate with you. Depends on your psychological ‘makeup’ and, dare I say it, childhood programming. For me it has been an important epiphany that has changed the way I do things as an artist.
Are you killing your art, or life, with feedback? Or more precisely, the wrong kind of feedback?
Seeking feedback too often and from the wrong people, or sometimes even seeking feedback at all, can be problematic. Especially for artists.
I was brought up to believe that receiving feedback gracefully was an essential component of having manners a.k.a being a well behaved kid. This is all well and good if it wasn’t for the hidden subtext that often goes unnoticed. Which goes something like ‘other people know better and more than you do’.
Fast forward to adulthood where potentially, if caught off guard on a particularly vulnerable day, any random opinion flung at me from anywhere could see me second guess myself.
So even though my essential nature was to create with abandon regardless of opinion, as I grew up, my ‘f*ck ‘em’ muscle atrophied. But my creativity obsession didn’t. I still made art, danced, sang, created clubs, films and adventures. I just did it all in a cave, in the dark, hidden, under a rock. Sometimes I got the courage to come out and pass around my ‘silly’ ideas. I would then diligently and earnestly take all notes on offer and head back into my cave to implement them, often turning my inspirations into franken-creations in the process.
CRUMBLE. BUMBLE. FUMBLE. RUMBLE*.
*The above are the sound effects made when creations are being violated by unnecessary feedback.
Looking back now, I can see that I actually always knew exactly what I was doing. And if I didn’t straight away I found a way to do so pretty quickly. Especially if left alone.
Today I know that when I’m creating from my essential self there is no competition or comparison. There’s nowhere to get to. It’s ‘egoless art’ and yes I believe there is such a thing. You loose yourself. You’re a channel. It’s a cool feeling.
And I’m not advocating living under a rock either. By all means expose yourself to art in all it’s shapes and sizes, absorb what moves you, stand on the shoulders of giants, and be inspired by everything and everyone.
Of course not all feedback is going to be a negative experience. Sometimes your going to get over the top praise, a standing ovation, minions blowing smoke up your derrière. But that comes with it’s own host of complications. Does it not? Things like inflated ego, being in your head all of a sudden, clicking into comparison mode, seeking more and more validation and on and on.
And lastly, perhaps you have had this experience. You are looking for a file, an image, a music track, a document. You have to go back through old files, drives, boxes. You stumble across wreckage of abandoned projects. It’s like a veritable graveyard, a massacre even. Okay, I’ll lighten it up a little. An archeological dig? Then you say to yourself as you see ‘something’ that looks especially cool, ‘Hey, that was an awesome idea. That really had something. You totally should have developed and fought for that. Why didn’t you?’. It’s a little soul destroying isn’t it?
Let’s band together as artists, surround ourselves with advocates, believe that we can never fail if we are creating from our essence, and march to the beat of our own drums.
If you are like me and getting feedback has on more than one occasion been the beginning of the end of some of your greatest ideas and plans then may I suggest this ….
You don’t need feedback.
ASIDE: See Part 2 of this post where I dive into how to escape from the seductive feedback loop. Read it HERE.
Also published on Medium.