Pride in creativity is often actually fear of criticism

“I’m really proud of how this illustration worked out.” I heard this phrase often from my fellow students when they had to present their latest work or designs to the professor and the class. It is a strange feeling to hear this phrase myself, ten years later, from students before I look at their work.

The sentence expresses pure self-protection. In reality, behind it lie the words, “Please don’t be too harsh with your criticism.” Especially as beginners, we identify particularly strongly with our work. I can relate to that. That is only natural. I remember the feeling when one of my drawings turned out particularly well. I would look at it days later and ask myself, “How did you do that?“

But over time, we realize that this attitude makes it difficult for us to grow. We start to understand that we’re not the star of the show. Our work is. The ego seeks validation, which inhibits creativity and productivity. Improving and optimizing it is all that matters.

Praise and recognition may feel good when we receive them, but we gain more if we seek constructive criticism. It makes a huge difference in our attitude whether we hope for positive feedback or specifically ask right away what we could have done better about our work.

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Sergio Ingravalle

Sergio Ingravalle

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Hi, I am Sergio Ingravalle, a Germany-based illustrator. I share my thoughts on creativity, freelancing, and illustration after 20 years of experience.