project runway

July 21, 2010

I just finished watching a few old episodes of Project Runway. I have never had the chance to watch this show on a regular basis, but I've always really enjoyed the episodes I have seen. The projects the contestants tackle are so creative. And it's really fascinating to watch different creative egos banter back and forth, defend their creations, receive praise or criticism, and watch how they handle rejection. Talk about tough. In one of the later episodes of last season, the designers spent a few months creating 10 or 15 different outfits for the final runway show. Shortly before this time period ended, one of the designers was told that all of his clothes looked too familiar, too much like what the judges had already seen, and that he needed to basically throw them all out and start over. I mean, how do you take news like that? It would be like doing a series of paintings that took months and required a complete investment of your time, self, emotions and intellect, and then having someone tell you that nothing about them was right. That they needed something completely different. News like that feels so demoralizing!

Needless to say, it becomes very necessary to develop a thick skin as an artist. Particularly for the negative feedback. (Side note - this isn't to be confused with constructive criticism, which is very helpful. Instead of shutting you down, constructive criticism helps you move forward. It's like a light bulb going on in your head...you realize, oh, they're right! This is how it can be improved, etc.) I'm talking about negative criticism for the sake of being negative, overly critical, or just thoughtless. People will say (and not say) all kinds of things without thinking about how it affects you. I think part of the process required involves learning to still invest in what you make (you must, for the creative process requires it), but at the same time hold it all loosely. And realize that people's comments oftentimes reflect more on themselves than on some absolute truth about you or your work. And then believe in yourself again and keep moving forward. This is crucial for any dream or vision, but especially for one where the subject matter can be so subjective in nature. Perseverance is key.

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