Sunday, November 04, 2007

Criticism, Self-Criticism

When I was in college, my org (student organization) had a process for resolving disputes and misunderstandings. We called it Criticism and Self-Criticism or CSC, for short. We would all sit down in an intimate circle and start by criticisizing ourselves, then the persons to the left and right of us. While the critic is talking, no one else is allowed to speak. The person being criticized should just listen, until his/her turn comes.

When we say criticism though, we mean constructive criticism. No personal attacks, or no critisizing just for the sake of putting another person down. I think this process has Marxist roots but in time, we used it to foster relationships between friends.

The process requires maturity and self-confidence. Maturity to accept your friends' critique and enough self-confidence to take it for what it is. A word of caution. This process should not be undertaken without those two basic requirements. I tried to apply this process in one of the offices I worked in before. It didn't work. Other staff took the comments about their performance as a personal affront such that instead of promoting inter-office relations, the atmosphere turned from bad to worse.

I have been thinking alot about CSC lately, in relation to scrapbooking. When we share our layouts with other scrappers, we always only mention the positive. And that is alright because certainly, we want to reinforce the good. Nobody ever mentions the negative though. What if, design-wise, we see ways that the layout could be improved, should we just close our eyes to that?

I recall that in Pinoy Scrapbookers, Au tried to start a trend of giving both positive and negative feedback to layouts shared in the group. Some brave scrappers came out to express their honest opinions, but it didn't really take. I guess, because, generally, we Filipinos cannot be so brutally honest, and as scrappers, we know most everyone in this community, and we don't want to say anything negative lest we hurt feelings.

But I, for one, would like your honest opinion. I would like to improve in this craft, and sometimes, I can be blind about my own layouts. I welcome your constructive criticism because I believe it is a way for me to learn and improve. So what do you say, shall we do this together?

Here is my CSC:

My strengths:
  • My journaling (people say I'm a good writer, and I am thankful that I can get the message across).
  • My photos (thanks to the advent of digital cameras I can take as many photos as I want, thus increasing the chances of getting really good ones).
  • A working knowledge of Photoshop, enough to be able to crop, blur cluttered backgrounds and convert colored photos to black and white or sepia.
  • A supportive family, a sister who unselfishly gives me scrapbooking stuff, a husband who encourages me, KiDS who cheer me on,
  • Friends who unabashedly tell me what they think about my LOs, good or bad.
My weaknesses:
  • My LOs don't have much texture
  • LOs lacking in dimension
  • I am afraid to experiment with new things and make mistakes kasi sayang
  • I don't like using too many embellishments kasi magastos
  • I don't use too many techniques kasi matrabaho (can you see the trend here? hahaha)
  • I try to finish LOs in one seating while other very good scrappers I know take their time, letting ideas simmer and boil.
I am sure I missed something, so I would appreciate your thoughts about this. And next time I post my layouts, I really hope that you will be honest with me and give me both the good and the bad.


marjorie said...

oh lee! another great post here...i remember the cakecentral community also had or maybe still having issues regarding constructive criticism...coz sometimes,if they ask for comments they meant good comments...and when they receive a negative feedback,they get upset...and maybe,i will try to follow your lead in listing my strengths and weaknesses...and just maybe,it can help me focus on eliminating my weaknesses...thanks lee!

Nita Ang said...

Hi Lee, I for one agree with you that it's about time that fellow-scrappers start giving constructive critism on each other's work. It'll be great to hear other people's perspective and I'm sure it'll help us discover more about our style. If you ask me, I for one can't see all my strengths and weaknesses in my LOs, so I would appreciate hearing it from other scrappers. If anything, I believe it will help me grow faster in this craft.

Jeff & Pia said...

Hi Lee! Thanks for writing about this. I once had a discussion very similar to this one with a close friend of mine. We would like (sana) to include some "constructive criticisms" to layouts being shared at the galleries/blogs but we were afraid we might be stepping on some toes. Moreso, baka ma-misinterpret kami na "we know too well" already. I'm glad you're starting this trend again. Perhaps, we can try no? : )Puede ko ba mahiram itong entry mo? Post ko sa blog ko? Thanks!

C70 said...

i am so bad when it comes to posting critiques :o sorry i am such a spoilsport!

Anonymous said...

good: your journaling has a great impact on every layout you do. yeah, you do take great great pics!!!! though computers are best friends, they are also heavensent.
bad: as i was looking/browsing through you layouts and when you mentioned magastos in terms of embellishment-using, i can understand you. we are in ways like that but ako, when i see the need to use that embellis kaht mahal siya, i would use it kasi it fits in there. would it fit right when it would stay in its package lang? you use techniques well naman and i think all your layouts incorporate techniques naman. you wana add dimension? try to add more embellis. not just stamps or stickers but teeny weeny trinkets of sorts. no prblem when you scrap fast or slow. we all have our own speed in doing that.basta, dont be afraid to experiment. after all, our scrapbooking journey does not end when we stop scrapbooking. this is a discipline where we can apply even in our own lives.