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Language Log

Wednesday, Oct. 07, 2009 - 8:11 a.m.

Ok, it's a new day and I am over it, but I'm going to complain about it anyway: That order I sent to Reno, the gallery manager called back wanting to return them because "they just weren't what she was expecting". When pressed, she said they just wouldn't appeal to her customers or fit into the store very well. I'm ok with that, but then she went on to say they looked "unfinished" and as though they had been made hastily. She couldn't express what exactly about them seemed unfinished. After a brief pout (still in the midst of it really), I discussed it with J (who does wonders for my sanity) and we came to the conclusion that she just didn't like the aesthetic of the pieces and lacked the vocabulary to precisely describe that. I'm ok with that, as I am with the idea that they wouldn't appeal to her customers. Different people like different things. It just bugged the heck out of me that she explained it in terms of my craftsmanship being lacking. What I should have asked her but did not think of in time was, what finishing step did she think should have been done but was not? But I know the answer-- she wouldn't be able to specify. Those pieces really are about an aesthetic that values asymmetry, natural (therefore perhaps somewhat random looking) processes of wear, simplicity, rusticity (even as they are rather modern in design). So if you don't get/like that, there's not much I can do to fix it for you. Just don't say it's my craftsmanship, ok?

I hate criticism. I know, I know, everyone has to put up with it. And sometimes people just miss the point. I still hate it. But I can't let one person who doesn't get it negate all the positive feedback I've gotten from people since I introduced these pieces.

Anyway, that was yesterday. On to a new day, when I have to be productive, not agonize over how to fix something that isn't actually a problem.

A side note about criticism, and what to do with it. You know, it takes so much effort to learn/teach people (starting in childhood) to respond to criticism in the right spirit, that sometimes later in life, even once you've gotten reasonably good at that, it seems like if you reject criticism, it must necessarily be the knee-jerk self-protective sort of rejection. As though all criticism were valid, and the issue is always simply whether you'll be adult enough to take it or not. This happens as a result of classroom settings where people do something, other people are forced to come up with suggestions/comments about it, and the person criticized is not allowed to reject the criticisms as wrong-headed. Never. Just smile, say "Oh, that's a good point, I hadn't looked at it that way", and fix it in the next round to comply with the suggestions. And that's a good attitude to start with, seeing as it's much more pleasant/easy to reject all criticism out of hand. But what gets missed is that sometimes, yeah...people get it wrong, and their opinions are completely worthless. And you're not just being immature if you come to that conclusion once in a while.

Ok, I'm done now. Moving on....

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