Ding – By @garnettsca

By Henry Garnett




I’m a big believer in mantras. It sounds super calabunga dude but I find value in anchoring myself to certain principles on a regular basis. Sometimes it feels pretentious and nonsensical but nevertheless it seems to help me tame the devious monkey brain. I saw a few mantras strewn across the walls of the SCA when I was last poking my head around on portfolio day. One particular phrase managed to cut through and resonate a little; ‘Seek criticism not praise’.

At first glance it doesn’t seem particularly ground breaking or insightful but somehow it seemed to stick. I had heard it before but perhaps I was never in the mindset to truly sack up and take note. In the context of the year I have had and amazing quality of work I had seen from the current students during the day something about that phrase came to life at that moment. I wouldn’t say it was epiphanic but somewhere in that vast skull of mine a lightbulb came on.

‘Made to Stick’ (pinky I read it) outlined what might have switched it on; unexpectedness. The mantra was unexpected and I questioned it because I have always felt I had a great relationship with criticism. We’re best mates. I thought that was my issue.

I listen to everything criticism has to say. Even sat here writing this blog. Telling me all about the amazing SCABs we’ve read from all the other students and what a foolish man I am for writing about a stupid mantra (no offence).

The switch came from a power shift. Suddenly it became clear that I need to take the power from my own internal criticism and give it to someone else more qualified. Spending hours crafting any creation to perfection does not get you anywhere as fast as churning it out and absorbing the criticism. Understanding and confronting my inadequacies from someone more qualified (ding).

Over the past year I have worked mostly in isolation. Last summer after deferring my place at the SCA I turned my phone off, deleted all my social media accounts, and moved out of London to live with my parents like a true rock star. I gave a few friends my email address but other than that I just worked at a bar and created as much time as possible to work on some creative projects without any distractions. The time has been invaluable but it also became a difficult learning curve. Exploring this power relationship became a huge part of that.

I have found that working in isolation can help grow the power of that internal voice until it becomes very destructive. Self criticism can be important in creating honest work but it can also become debilitating when it overpowers the process.

I have been seeking over the last few weeks to try and reappropriate that power internally and live as far as I can by that mantra (dude). I have been trying to take the power away from my internal criticism and seek it elsewhere. Sharing work with different people and goading out as much criticism as possible in the process. Its all about the work and praise does nothing to improve it but too often my insecurities get in the way of that.


Easier said than done of course.

At least there is lightbulb somewhere in there than works every now and then.

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