I’ve dedicated the month of March to recognizing our needs and making sure that meeting them is a priority. Now I want to shift gears ever so slightly and talk about needs on a larger scale, meaning that in addition to being aware of our own needs, we need to remember that the creatives in our lives have needs as well. It is very important for us to support each other as a creative community. We can create so much more freely when we know that we have people in our corner who support us no matter what. Today we’re going to talk about meeting the needs of other creatives. More specifically, I will share some tips for how to troubleshoot tricky feedback conversations and also discuss what we can do to take a leadership role in our own communities of support.
Let’s start by talking about the support that YOU provide to others. Do you know any creatives who are shy about sharing their art? Are they nervous about being critiqued? Maybe they’re struggling with an internalized idea that “art isn’t a real career” or that they’re “not ready.” This is totally normal and OKAY. Most of us have likely struggled with similar thoughts or nerves at some point in our creative journeys. Building confidence can be a lifelong process and it’s something many of us have to work on every single day. It’s no secret that the creative industry can be full of judgement and negativity, which not only makes it difficult to allow your confidence to shine through, but it can also overpower your ability to maintain it. How can we combat that? By being gentle, encouraging, and supportive of one another. We have to remember that we are a part of a very special community where everyone deserves to have their place. Everyone’s work is valid. You can pay it forward and be the change you want to see in the industry. Make it your mission to help other creatives gain confidence by asking to see their work and pointing out something positive that stands out to you. An act like this might seem small, but it can be such a game changer.
How to give artists feedback?
Another part of our conversation around needs is about FEEDBACK. Has a fellow creative ever shown you their art and you just froze? You didn’t know how to react or what to say. Should you just say that you like it no matter what? Or should you give critiques? Should you ask more about the piece or just let the conversation move on to the next topic? It can be hard to gauge what kind of response is appropriate in these kinds of scenarios. We know all about the vulnerability that goes into creative work. We also know how hard it can be to find the confidence to share it with someone. If someone asks you for feedback, what should you do? My tips are these:
- Be as supportive and encouraging as possible. It takes guts to show people your art and brace yourself for whatever their reaction might be! Take that into consideration and give this person much-needed kudos.
- Don’t be afraid to comment on what you like about their art or tell them how amazing it is that they put all of that work into something they’re passionate about.
- Ask if they would be open to hearing your ideas and suggestions before diving in and giving your opinions.
- Remember that it IS okay to give constructive feedback, especially if that’s what they are looking for. Feedback can be tricky, though. (A lot of this information is inspired by Liz Lerman’s critical response method, which outlines best practices for how an artist presents their work/asks for feedback and how people can respond.) My biggest takeaway from her method is to ask specific questions that are neutral, such as “Why did you choose to use the color red throughout the piece?”. A neutral question may give you more insight into the artist’s intentions. Then, depending on your relationship with that specific person, you may choose to give some constructive criticism or feedback.
If you haven’t seen it already, check out my IG reel about feedback. And while you’re at it, follow me at @esma_kirim!
A community of support is so important to have as a creative, and it’s just as important to serve as an active member of that community for others. Take some time today to think about your network. Think about how you can be their cheerleader and support them and their needs. Then, take it a step further and ask them what you can do to help them feel more supported in their creative pursuits. A rising tide lifts all the boats. By paying it forward, you are role modeling the behavior you’d like to see and creating the community atmosphere that will inspire others.
If you are looking for a community of like-minded creatives, look no further! Come join my FB group, Bravely Original. It’s full of creatives supporting one another, promoting themselves and their creative business, and learning new things. I’d love to have you.
What do you think about meeting the needs of others? How can you best serve a creative in your community? Sound off in the comments and let me know!