Friday, June 16, 2006

You know you are a loser when....

You come home from 3 nights of virtually no sleep, a VERY mediocre critique and a few cocktails with Audrey and blog.

I can't help but be introspective after all that I've completed this quarter...I pushed myself harder than I have to date at PC. Maybe it wasn't in regard to perfecting my type treatment or picking the right typeface, but I put myself into my work. I guess that is the part that sucks about the critique I had...none of that is acknowledged. None of the struggle is important when it comes down to the brass tacks of things...I guess I am being too sensitive about it...my type does need help...I know I have so many things to work on, to make better, to pay closer attention to.

It seems like the one thing my critique panel liked the most was the thing I did in the least amount of time. My wine bottles. I literally spent 2 hours on them this afternoon because I was determined to complete all of my work. There were definately some issues to be resolved with the design, but I just did it from a place of sheer enjoyment. I was tired, over it, ready to be done, but I had fun. The concept was a S T R E T C H, but I actually made sense of it enough to defend it....until....I got honest. Questions regarding production and some details came in...and what did my dumb ass do? I told them that I didn't HAVE TIME to take care of those details because I literally started them this afternoon...but I didn't want to lie...they were obvious things that I would've noticed had I not been applying the labels as I was walking out the door, but my dumb ass told them the aforementioned information. S T U P I D. Why did I do that? I don't know...let's just blame it on sleep deprivation.

Bottom line, critiques are a learning opportunity. Would I tell a potential employer that...no...but I understand critiques to be a place to be honest about your work, your process, your strengths, your weaknesses. How else does one learn? By lying? By saying that I slaved away HOURS at those wine labels...only to produce something with obvious flaws? NO. Why shouldn't I say that? Maybe I spent hours thinking about them and this was my first crack at production....

I get that we need to learn presentation skills. I get it. I get that we need to be able to defend our work...but fucking defend something grounded in truth...not bullshit. I can defend substance and truth all day long, but don't ask me to make up some stupid story about how long and involved my process was if it, in fact, was NOT. That just seems ridiculous to me. I really understand that in the "real world" one has to improvise sometimes...but we are in a learning environment...it is one step removed from "reality." It seems as though we should be encouraged to be honest about how we arrive at the design solutions that we do. What if you went to the doctor and suffered high blood pressure but refused to acknowledge to your doc that you consumed a diet high in sodium. One could spend MONTHS, YEARS, LIFETIMES trying to determine the cause of the problem...simply because the patient refused to be honest.

Clearly this bugged me. I think it may be time for some sleep. I'm sure I'll return to my normal, reasonable self tomorrow. The good news is...it's over...quarter 4 is over! I am, officially, half-way through and I love where I am and what I'm doing more now than ever...I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to be with these amazing people at my school and to be doing what I do. But I wouldn't be me if I didn't question, analyze and measure the quality of each experience that I have.

5 comments:

Anne-Davnes said...

Congrats Mary. You did it!

I hated anti-climactic critiques, too. All that work and where's the applause? WTF? I think one of the biggest things I learned at PC was delayed gratification. I'd see the fruit of some painful experience - the lesson learned months after I first was introduced to the problem. It all came together in the end. If you can put up with the bullshit, the ridiculous time constraints, ( I mean - you're required to learn all this new stuff in like NO amount of time ) and the fact that critiques are for pointing out places in which you need to grow more than they are about what you're good at. They are not about praise. At all. That's easy to forget. I forgot every quarter. And every quarter I got "bad news" that sent me crying home. It's just never easy to hear what you're bad at when you've busted your ass for so long.

So where's the reward? Just hang tight.

If you can see this clearly now and if you had the balls to create wine bottles during the last 2 hours you had left and the balls to present your work without enough sleep and to save up enough room for honesty - imagine what you're work will be like in your 8th quarter.

Keep asking for the bad news. And this is something I have to keep reminding myself during every class I teach. Keep giving the bad news. No one gets better without it.

If you can put up with the abuse in the beginning, you'll come out shining on top in the end.

Have a wonderful, wonderful break. Give yourself some good news and save up some for your classmates. You all deserve it.

minus five said...

i'd worry more if those people were happy with everything i did. that usually means they don't think you can do better, or even worse, that they have seen your same ideas before so they understand them completely.

and anne's right about everything she said. have fun catching up on your sleep. and what kind of shit were you and audrey talking about minus five last night?

MCALDWELLC said...

You guys are totally right...my biggest problem is that I hyper-focus on what I did wrong...I spent a good part of last night beating myself up over the one dumb ass thing I said that was just stupid...honest, but stupid.

The reality is that it doesn't really matter because the quarter is over, I did the work, I pushed myself and my work is getting better as a result of the bad news and loving, honest support that PC provides.

...and as Sylvia says "enjoy the struggle...it's the best part."

...and it is.

Tania Rochelle said...

But your entire premise is specious, Mary! The idea that you "spent 2 hours on them" is misguided. You'd been thinking about those bottles for days--weeks maybe! They were incubating all quarter. You FINALLY nailed the concept yesterday afternoon, having discarded so many previous ones.

I've worked for months on long poems, revising and revising, only to discover, in the end, that the actual poem was only a small section, maybe ten lines out of a hundred of what I'd been toiling over. But all those revisions of the thrown-away lines got me that much closer to the next poem. Good practice.

Jason said...

I agree on some parts. I wrote a friggin' passionate book about my life and how can a panel critique it without reading it? So they pointed out a couple parts where the type was hard to read over a dark background. Ok, now tell me something I don't know.

All my critiques have pretty much had similar aspects, but the one thing that always gets me is that I leave happy and proud. Then, three days later, I realize that everything said about the work was actually negative. It was only my presentation and understanding of my ideas that worked, not the work itself. This happened every time. I've only had ONE project where nobody on the panel has said something negative about it. ONE, and that was 3rd quarter, but I attribute that to the Round Robin critique panel, so they all felt comfortable being positive individually instead of negative as a group. I'm sure Anne and Tania have different perspectives.

Basically, I've tried to set goals each quarter based on the previous one. Experiment more, get dirty more, now get clean again, choose the style based on the project, concentrate on execution, concentrate on concept, now concentrate on both. It's a constant Hit/Miss, Hit/Miss. This was the first time I really tried to put it all together, and it was the first time I got to hear something different about my work; of course, there was still a negative aspect pointed out in each piece.

You've still got 3 more critiques left and a greater sense on how everything works. Plenty of time to spend on everything and knock their socks off.