Do you have thick skin or do you take it personally?
It’s a tough question to answer. And it’s an issue every designer is faced with daily. Because everyone is a critic.
I’m a sucker for design shows on TV. Candice Olson on Divine Design is amazing. And I’m a huge fan of Project Runway, formally on Bravo. Since Lifetime bought the show, there is a new show on Bravo called The Fashion Show. Even though this new show doesn’t have Tim Gunn, I’m liking it.
The Fashion Show aired an episode on May 21 which brought up an issue I often ponder. While the judges were deliberating, the issue of confidence came up. One of the losing contestants didn’t have any confidence in herself or her design. The other losing contestant maintained confidence, although he knew his clothing piece didn’t hit the mark. Isaac Mizrahi thinks designers should definitely attach their egos to their designs. Isaac said, “…attaching your ego to your design…is a really healthy thing for a designer. They try to say, ‘Oh, don’t take it too personally.’ BULL. Take it very personally.”
In a way, I disagree with Isaac’s comment, and in another way I couldn’t agree more. I obviously have mixed feelings. In all my art classes in college, I was encouraged to grow “thick skin.” Which basically means not to take criticism personally. And in my work as an art director, keeping clients happy and in business is of the utmost importance. I think this is one of the biggest differences between artists and designers. Artists create art for themselves. Designers create design for an audience.
The conclusion I’m drawing is that artists and designers need a dose of both confidence AND awareness. Whether you are an artist or designer, you want an audience to “get it” when they look at your creations. We need to hear constructive criticism to create to our full potential. But while we are listening to this constructive criticism, we need to keep it from crushing our spirit.
So. Should we attach our egos to our designs? Yes. But when we do this, we need to be fully aware that by opening ourself up to criticism we could get hurt.
But we could also improve our skill, craft or idea immeasurably.