Wednesday, August 18, 2010

on criticism

A while ago, I got some complaining about a review I did because of my pickyness of typefaces and a comment I made about the content. It was from a girl who sent me her zine specifically to be reviewed. I gave her a good review before, and she had since added me to Facebook and put a link to TMC on her blog. However, after becoming very defensive of my criticisms, she left a passive aggressive comment on the link on Facebook, which she then deleted me from, and removed my link from her blog. My friend Alysha then said, “Wow, she’d never make it in art school.”

And it’s not art school, it’s in any type of profession, or any creative thing you do really. We are people who grow as we live. We learn every day, we are constantly soaking up information and honing our skills and learning new things.

Criticism is something that is inevitable when you put something out to the public, whether it be a piece of art, a zine, or any type of writing. People will like it, there will always be someone who doesn’t. There will be people who tell you it’s good when they don’t actually think it is and there are people who will tell you what you could do better. This is a part of life, and the sooner you learn to cope with criticism, the better your life (and your skills) will be.

When I first started art school, I was extremely sensitive to criticism. And once you get thrown out there into constant criticism, it becomes second nature, and it’s only then when you realize there is so much to learn, and you have to appreciate the feedback of others if you want to reach your full potential. You can’t be pissy about it and put up a wall, or you will definitely not succeed.

Yes, I have a background in graphic design & illustration, so yes typefaces, layout, and aesthetic quality are things that I am going to pick out. I can’t help it. I know that not everyone is a graphic designer or whatever, but a zine is a piece of art no matter how you think about it. When you are holding it in your hand, the cover is either going to pull you in or deter you from reading it. Everything really does matter. It’s not that it is more important than the content, but for most people, if it looks sloppily put together and has an ugly cover and you can see a million ugly typefaces and backgrounds when you quickly flip through it, they may not get as far as reading the content and put it down without thinking twice.

There was a comment made implying that I’m turning into an art snob, and maybe I shouldn’t be reviewing personal zines. It made me think a lot about my involvement in zines and where the future lies with this hobby. I’ve been making zines since I was 15, and consider it as part of my roots. It was one of my first creative outlets as an angry, angsty teenage girl. I think of it as sort of a foundation. My taste in zines has changed a lot since then, and the majority of my attention has been pulled toward other things, like my impending career in art, painting, singing and writing music. This is why I’m not posting as many reviews as I’d hoped when I started. But I’d like to still write reviews because I love getting zines and I think my criticism is valuable to people who are willing to listen and take it constructively. I don’t want to hurt anyone. It helps me grow as an artist as well, and I think sharing information is vital. We can all learn from each other. Everything is connected.

And I’m not going to say that I’m a perfect artist/writer/reviewer/whathaveyou. I’ve accepted the fact a long time ago that I’ve got many years of learning ahead of me, but I also love to learn and take what I can from others. I crave criticism and am always open to what people have to say about anything I do. Sometimes it can hurt, but that hurt is necessary and you get over it.

I guess what I’m trying to say, is that if you don’t want your work criticized, don’t fucking send it to me (or any other reviewers) and cry about it when I’m honest.


  1. i feel like a lot of zinesters are afraid to say when they hate the layout of a zine. but you're right. if something looks sloppy, i am less likely to read it. maybe because, looking at my own work and growth as a zinester, when my layout was still poorly done, so was the content. so i kinda associate it with that.

    i will say i once had a guy email me and tell me the content of my zine was too much like a blog. that i should put more reviews in, etc. at first i was so angry because a) i write a perzine while he seemed to be saying i needed to do a review/music zine instead and b) i had always been told that a zine could be anything you wanted it to be- and i still believe that. however, i also now acknowledge that while i can make any kind of zine i want, it doesn't mean people are going to like it or connect to it. so now i put my all into it (and make sure the stories i write don't just sound like diary entries)

    but i also have a background where i am used to criticism, thanks to my creative writing & photo classes in high school (an arts based school so i took these every day for four years) plus my writing classes throughout university. and i remember what it was like getting used to that, so i try to be somewhat sympathetic for those who are really shocked by criticism at first, and take it personally instead of to heart. but i agree, if you're sending it in for review, be ready to be critiqued!

    i hope this isn't what made you wanna quit snail mail. i love your honest opinions so i hope you keep writing these reviews :)

  2. oh hai essay of a comment haha

  3. Just because you receive criticism, doesn't even mean you have to listen, or that they are "right." But it's still important to take it constructively and keep it in mind. I'm sure that the criticism you have received in the past has made you a better writer/zinester! I know I like your zines (though now I realize I haven't reviewed any of them? wtf!)

    This isn't what made me want to quit snail mail. It doesn't have to do with zines at all. I am still debating.

    Anyways, thanks for your "essay of a comment!" I appreciate the feedback and hope others will read it as well :)