Sunday, March 20, 2016

When You Get Bad Advice

It's challenging when you're working on a project to really see the whole of it while working so close to it. A good artist knows they have to seek out the advice of others who will likely pick up on things you've overlooked. When you've written, rewritten, edited, removed, readded, updated, adjusted, tweaked, and gone over a line a hundred times in draft, it can be near impossible to tell if a joke is still funny anymore. Same with any medium, whether visual, written, or audio.

But what do you do when you get bad advice? Now I'm not talking about advice that you heard and acted on and then later regretted or found to be false. We're talking about advice given that immediately you recognize and not entirely helpful to the current project or direction. Not to discourage people from giving advice when it's asked of them, but as a creator it can be difficult to shift through all the feedback you get to find the real points to focus on for improvement.

Example A: While working on my Portal posters way back in college, I sought out the advice of classmates on how to improve my pieces.

 

When asking for feedback on the first one, a comment I got was that fire burns upwards and the orange around the circle looks off. Unfortunately this person was unfamiliar with the Portal games and missed that that was not a burning circle but an orange portal on a wall.

  

Another peer was asked about the white and black test chamber sign I had made for "Wheatley Laboratories"and how I could better that design. That person was familiar with the Portal games, but commented that they didn't like that the cracks went off the edge and wondered if the shatter could be more centered. Maybe this is more design aesthetic, personal preference, etc. but for me the whole purpose of the smashed section was to be off center and to go to the edges.


It's not always easy to ask for advice and neither is sorting through what advice to take in and use. Someone is generous to give you their time and opinion when you ask for help, but yet may not be as knowledgeable as to the desired direction. I know it's stereotypical snobby to say, "they just don't get the vision" but sometimes that's what it comes down to. Still, you take all the advice you get, thank them for assisting your process, and shift through to figure out what changes to implement. Sometimes people bring up a change that helps improve your art in ways you hadn't thought about, sometimes people bring up changes and your choices stand as they are.

A good artist is always considering the feedback they get, even if they don't always use it directly as given.