I asked for a critique on the Internet and it broke me

I haven't properly posted here in a month. If you ask any type of person whose job it is to do things on the internet, this is not good. You're supposed to post something once a week at minimum. But what if I don't have anything good? What if I'm just trying things out and none of it really sticks? What if I'm having a little bit of a crisis (relatively speaking, in levels of crises). 


I did something stupid. I did something really stupid. I went to Reddit.com, mainly known for 2 important things -anonymity and cat gifs- and asked for criticism.

There is a nice part of the site with sub-reddits about Android phones, Graphic Design, Illustration and Art Critique. The last one is where I went seeking a very misguided sort of criticism that sent me into an creative tailspin. I honestly really like creative communities on the site, and have gotten a ton of good feedback and camaraderie there. A month ago though, I went on and posted a link to my website and asked for "absolute and honest critique of everything I'm doing right now". Stupid. Stupid barely contains how idiotic of a thing this is to do. Without formal critiques, without professors and classmates to shoot down bad ideas, and without my artist friends, I felt absolutely alone. I knew I needed critique, and didn't care where it came from. I have pretty thick skin, generally, I mean I work in public service and deal with terrible people all the time. Vonnegut once said on writing: 

Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

The same applies to art, and boy have I been sick. I wanted to please everyone, and have praise heaped upon me with the guise of seeking 'honest critique'. I deserved it, I admit, but I learned some valuable lessons about my process and myself. 

When you read things like "First things first: you are probably not a designer." Your heart sinks a little bit. Ok, a lot. I went to school for that, I worked really hard at that. There are other things and a lot of them true, but I won't post them here. It wasn't just one thing though, that sent my anxiety into warp-speed, but it was the little foxes, a death by a thousand cuts that wore on me. My confidence was entirely sapped away and every time I sat down to make- I had those words racing through my head. 

The one that jumped at me the most though, and helpful to boot, was a critique of the amount of content I was putting up on the web. My approach since late last year was to blast as much as possible into my little ecosystem and try to get better. That's it. Make lots of stuff, put it on the internet, and get better at those things. The problem is that some of it is more appropriate in some places more than others. My Juxtamotion Facebook was only pointing to these blog posts, and my site is full of half finished sketches and ideas, but very light on finished products. For me a lot of it was making up for ground I felt I'd lost over the last couple of years of not really doing what I wanted, so I over-compensated. Every drawing went online, every idea was better than no idea in my mind. I think this was a mis-step, but one I want to learn from. 

So, in that, I want to illustrate (heh) how I'm going to go about posting my stuff for the time-being and draw out a bit of a road-map of where you can find my stuff. 

Sketches, Ideas, Works in Progress, personal stuff: Juxtamotion Facebook, @mattsmith_makes on Instagram and Twitter

This stuff is off the cuff, not always finished, and not always relating to artistic endeavors. Here you may find the following: photos of beerz, photos of cats, photos of sketches, ideas etc. Less formal-more fun. I like posting here a lot. 

Finished Works, more serious ideas, written things: Here obviously, on my blog. My behance profile and dribbble.com (maybe) 

Middling Ideas: the aptly titled "junkdrawer" here on the site. These ideas are in a sort of purgatory, with not enough to flesh out a finished piece, but more than just a sketch. This is good for showing process, I think, also that I'm working working working. I will be pruning it extremely harshly in the coming week and may turn it into a tumblr style blog thing with just pictures. We'll see. 

A little bit of housekeeping here: I redesigned my site, let me know if it sucks! I bought a big ole graphics tablet and have been making more digital work. Here's some of that:


Thanks for listening to me whine and stuff! Things are looking up!