For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been told to show my work. Teachers, friends, and colleagues encourage (and sometimes even require) this practice as a way to show and validate your process and work. I can remember the frustration that I felt as a third grade student doing math problems in my head only to receive a zero because I didn’t show my work. But why is this so important, and what does it have to do with the creative process and community? Let’s take a quick look at why you should show your work, and how you can greatly benefit from the practice.
Ask for Critique
Internal conversations and critique can undoubtedly have an amazing impact on your work. All too often there is a negative connotation attached to the word, “criticism” which, is understandable. In many situations, the phrase “constructive criticism,” is used to emphasize the importance of helpful critique. In my undergraduate studies as a graphic design major, my teachers always created an environment that was conducive to constructive criticism so that every thought or suggestion that was offered was given to help the design- and therefore the individual- grow. So, when asking for critique, ask the people that you know want to see you grow, and your work improve. Before your work is finished, show your team, your friends, and your family. Everyone will have a different take on it, and you’ll be able to better your project with their help. Then, when you’ve received feedback, take it all into consideration. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to implement it, but I would highly suggest considering everything. Then, take action and make changes accordingly that help you excel as an artist and improve your work.
Show your Community
New York Times bestselling author, Austin Kleon, greatly impacted my work- and the whole design community- with his books, Steal Like an Artist and Show Your Work!. In Show Your Work!, Kleon stresses the importance of opening up to your respective community and sharing work that isn’t finished or perfect. Too many times, professionals are wary of showing their work for fear that it isn’t good enough. However, more often than not, that’s exactly the time that you should share your work! The beauty of having a community around you that is working toward a common goal is that you can rely on them for feedback and inspiration. Consider this example: if you were the manager of a team, would you hire only people who are exactly like you? Hopefully you answered “no.” On the contrary, a strong team is made up of individuals that have different strengths and weaknesses. Whether they sit next to you or somewhere across the world, your online community is your team. Whatever your craft- graphic design, art, instructional design, etc.- you and the rest of your community are working toward a common goal. You want to make the world a better place with your product or craft, so be open to each others’ thoughts and suggestions. Learn from each other, give and take feedback, and show them what you’re doing!