For two years I have been teaching young people how to think and create like a designer. I believe that we are connected to our creations, because we pour bits of ourselves into a material form that is both us and not us. As a result, we often perceive criticism, both positive and negative very personal, as if someone was judging us and not our work. I think it's helpful to find that space between what we do and us. It’s a place where we let the criticism in, not only the one from outside, but also self-criticism.
Criticism can be constructive and give a lot of good tips for our work to develop. It’s like looking at our creation through another pair of eyes and sensitivity. Critics can help us to see more yet, they are not us and it's not their creation. We can take as much from them as we are willing to accept, because we can’t jump over ourselves.
There is another type of criticism, most common unfortunately, yet of little help. It results from intentions and emotions of the person criticizing us and is often not aimed at supporting us in our creative work, but rather allows this person to fulfill their other needs. That’s why it is so important to exercise mindfulness and create a space within us, where we can take something we want for ourselves from and leave the rest with understanding for that person, who just like us is filled with various emotions and needs.
There is also our internal critic, who can be the most destructive for us. We often expect our work to be perfect. Our creations are a reflection of us, yet we are not perfect, we are just human and I think it’s important that we can accept it. Still, we can be real. It takes a lot of courage, because we would then expose ourselves. However, this way we are allowed to create in authenticity and harmony, like children in a way. It’s where the fun begins and when we add knowledge and experience to it then design begins. There comes the moment when our creation goes out into the world. We stop working on it, but still feel connected with it. And here comes the fear of how our work will be received, the fear of failure or the fear of success. Both are based on fear for ourselves and can be equally terrifying. However, our creations are not us and it is worth remembering. They are a little bit like our children – parents could understand that easier – we bring them to the world, we raise them and then, when the time comes, they leave us to live their lives on their own, but with our support. When the time comes for our works, we release them into the world despite our fear. Letting go of that fear is setting free from the control. Let them live their own lives with the potential we were able to pour into them when we created and worked on them.
I used to conduct an excercise with children using a chair as an example to illustrate how strongly these emotions affect us. The chair represented a design product of one of the students and the rest of the group gave critical comments about it. This experiment proved that it is not easy to accept criticisim and filter it, but also it’s not easy to give constructive criticizm. Commitment and mindfullness are important on both sides. Working in school taught me that the best learning comes through experience. That’s why I encourage you to experience. If my work and feelings could help someone in their own creative way, that’s great. I suppose these words will only last short time, but the experience stay longer, it will be your own and you will be able to relate to and draw from it.
During the second year of my work at school, I was leading a group that included many talented students. I've noticed that the language of communication and expression through art or creation has little to do with knowledge or mental capacity. Sometimes we are born with this possibility and sensitivity of reception and we are able to communicate with others and be understood. It is important that we allow ourselves to speak this language and appreciate this possibility, do not focus on other parts of ourselves, which in our opinion are not sufficient, that we do not set ourselves imaginary blocks. If we let ourselves to be authentic, we will be able to defend ourselves against people who do not like this authenticity. If we want to improve our work, and we feel that we lack skills in some part, we should ask for help those who posses such skills and are willing to help us.
We are sensitive people and my observations show that talented people are often oversensitive. Everyone likes the nice side of manifesting this sensitivity in beautiful things, the effects that flow from it. But there is also the other side of strong feeling; this one is less pleasant and rather reluctantly viewed by others and us. We experience both joy and sorrow strongly. If we do not allow ourselves to feel all the emotions that resonate in us and we expect ourselves to release only the super positive ones, we are making an attempt on ourselves. We are whole with the whole range of experiences and emotions that we encounter in life.
If we try to ignore a part of ourselves, not to feel it, it does not mean that it stops playing in us; rather it causes our heart to freeze and after some time we are not able to fully feel the emotions we would like to feel. Creativity flows from sensivity and emotions.
The last painting I didn't finish, I painted in 2005. It’s a triptych showing decay, separation. The first one I finished after that time was made in 2013. Title: I am.
Despite the fact that for many years I tried to take up painting, I couldn't. I felt enormous pressure which I imposed on myself at the same time, a large block and the inability to express myself through painting. It was only when I accidentally put a new painting next to the last unfinished, that I understood and accepted what was happening to me. Letting yourself to fully feel all the emotions is important, especially in creativity, because here authenticity and truth are important, and the truth is not part of us, but us as a whole.
It would seem that since we already have the ability to express ourselves through creativity, that's pretty much everything, but it was not reflected in the students' activities. I created a simple task which was divided into many different stages, for which students received points. The sum of the points scored shaped the final evaluation of the project. It was my research to find out why the final result has nothing to do with the capabilities and talent of the individual.
Most of the students had the opportunity to reach the maximum number of points, but out of a group of 20 people, only 3 scored the max. I asked who made the bed in the morning after waking up and only those three raised their hands. Of course, there was some debate as to whether making a bed is important and how difficult or simple the task is. I do not think it is about making the bed (although from that day I prepared the possibility of making the bed for my daughter, I still do not make mine). I think it's about a kind of discipline, how we arrange the world around and for ourselves. After tracing the stages of the students' activities, most of the points missed were not due to the lack of skills of specific individuals, but some kind of self-sabotage. Not taking care of your job, not taking care of it enough and sometimes even deliberately giving up the desire to do it. How we treat our work is largely a reflection of how we treat ourselves. It's great if we receive from our parents this kind of learning and love that will allow us to take care of ourselves, of what and how we do, and the space around us, whose shape strongly influences us. This allows us to fully spread our wings. However, from my observations, few people were lucky enough to receive this kind of love and support. But we are people with a free will to decide how we want to shape our own external and internal space with goodness and love for ourselves or in the belief that we do not deserve it.