Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Business of Animation Logo

How Destructive Criticism Can Make You A Better Animator

ben marvazi 2020

Make More Money as an Animator

Check out our FREE TRAINING on How Animators Can Make Over $10,000 Per Month

How to Transform Destructive Criticism as an Animator

In the dynamic world of animation, feedback is a pivotal part of the creative process. As animators, we often encounter two types of feedback: constructive and destructive criticism. 

While constructive criticism aims to build up and improve our work, destructive criticism can feel demoralizing and unhelpful. 

However, there's a silver lining. Destructive criticism, though challenging, can become a powerful catalyst for both personal and professional growth. 

This blog delves into understanding these two forms of feedback, handling negative critiques, and transforming them into positive forces that propel us forward in our animation careers.

an animated character running on a wheel of drawing papers

Cover GIF by Felipe Kehdi via GIPHY

Understanding Constructive vs. Destructive Criticism

Constructive Criticism

This is the kind of feedback every animator seeks. Constructive criticism is purposeful, specific, and aimed at improving your work. 

It's not just about pointing out flaws; it's about offering solutions and encouragement. 

For instance, a client might suggest adjusting the pacing of your animation to better convey a story, providing clear reasons and possible approaches.

Destructive Criticism

In contrast, destructive criticism often lacks specificity and focuses more on the negative without offering solutions. It can feel personal and demoralizing. 

An example might be a client bluntly stating that your animation is unengaging, without providing reasons or ways to improve. 

Here’s a hypothetical scenario to show the difference:

Constructive: A client says, "The character's movements seem stiff in this scene. Can we try making them more fluid to enhance the emotional impact?"

Destructive: A client comments, "This animation doesn’t capture the emotions at all. It's just not working."

Video via Business of Animation

In these scenarios, constructive feedback is helpful and guides the animator toward making specific improvements. On the other hand, the destructive criticism is vague and doesn’t offer any actionable advice, leaving the animator unsure of how to proceed.

The Impact of Destructive Criticism on Animators

Destructive criticism, when delivered harshly, can have a profound impact on animators. It’s not just about hurt feelings; such feedback can shake an animator's confidence in their skills and creativity. 

Let's explore the typical reactions and feelings animators might experience in the face of destructive criticism:

Emotional Toll

Receiving harsh, unconstructive feedback can be emotionally draining. It may lead to self-doubt, frustration, or even questioning one’s career choice. This is particularly true for freelance animators, who often work in isolation and may not have a support system to help them process the feedback.

Professional Setbacks

Destructive criticism can sometimes lead to hesitancy in taking creative risks or trying new techniques. This hesitance can stifle growth and innovation, which are vital in the ever-evolving field of animation.

a character giving destructive criticism

GIF by Adult Swim via GIPHY

Motivational Dip

The demotivating nature of destructive criticism can impact productivity and the desire to complete current or take on new projects. This is especially challenging when dealing with client projects under tight deadlines.

7 Strategies for Handling Destructive Criticism as an Animator

Navigating the choppy waters of destructive criticism requires a blend of emotional intelligence and professional acumen. Here are some strategies that can help animators handle negative feedback constructively:

1. Separate Emotion from Feedback

It's natural to feel defensive or upset when facing harsh criticism. However, try to detach personal feelings from professional feedback. Understand that the critique is about the work, not you as an individual.

2. Seek Clarity

If the criticism is vague, don’t hesitate to ask for specifics. Understanding exactly what aspects of your work are being criticized can provide valuable insights for improvement.

3. Calm Reflection

Take a step back and allow yourself some time to process the feedback calmly. Reacting in the heat of the moment can lead to unproductive exchanges or decisions.

a character crying saying "that's not very nice"

GIF by Cartoon Hangover via GIPHY

4. Finding the Constructive Core

Even in the most negative feedback, there's often a kernel of truth that can be useful. Identify any valid points and consider how they can be used to enhance your work.

5. Professional Response

Respond to the criticism professionally, showing your willingness to listen and improve. This approach can often turn a negative interaction into a constructive dialogue.

6. Seek Support

Discuss the feedback with trusted colleagues or mentors. They can provide an objective perspective and may offer valuable advice on how to address the issues raised.

7. Implement Changes

If the criticism has merit, use it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Implement changes in your work process or technique to address the issues highlighted.

How to Turn Destructive Criticism into Positive Outcomes

Transforming destructive criticism into a constructive force is an essential skill for animators. Here’s how to leverage negative feedback for positive outcomes:

Adopting a Growth Mindset

Embrace the idea that skills and abilities can be developed. View criticism as an opportunity to grow rather than a reflection of your inherent talent.

a character's tears creating a flower

GIF by cupofmotion via GIPHY

Extracting Useful Insights

Look beyond the tone of the criticism and focus on the content. Is there a recurring theme in the feedback you receive? Use these insights to identify areas for improvement.

Actionable Goals

Based on the criticism, set specific, achievable goals. For example, if the feedback is about your animation lacking fluidity, you might focus on mastering more dynamic motion techniques.

Experimentation and Learning

Use the feedback as a prompt to experiment with new styles or techniques. Continuous learning and adaptation are key in the ever-changing field of animation.

Tracking Progress

Keep a record of the feedback and your responses to it. Over time, review this to see how far you've come and how the criticism has helped you evolve.

Destructive Criticism and Business Improvement

Destructive criticism can also be a catalyst for improving business practices in animation. Here's how:

Refining Client Communications
a hand drawing for a negative onlooker

GIF by Trixie The Pixie via GIPHY

Negative feedback often highlights areas for improvement in client-animator communication. This can lead to developing clearer briefs, a better understanding of client expectations, and establishing more effective feedback channels.

Improving Service Quality

Feedback, even when negative, provides insights into client expectations and market trends. Animators can use this information to enhance the quality and relevance of their services.

Adapting Business Strategies

Criticism might reveal gaps in business practices or market positioning. This can prompt animators or studio owners to rethink and adapt their business strategies accordingly.

How To Harness Destructive Criticism as an Animator

Destructive criticism, while initially disheartening, can be a powerful tool for growth in the animation industry. 

By understanding the difference between constructive and destructive feedback, animators can learn to extract valuable insights from even the harshest critiques. 

Adopting strategies to handle negative feedback not only enhances resilience and emotional intelligence but also provides opportunities for personal and professional development. It encourages animators to refine their skills, adapt to changing trends, and improve their business practices.

an art animation of a woman walking through shrubbery

GIF by Rafael Varona via GIPHY

Remember, every piece of criticism is a chance to learn, grow, and excel. It's not just about making your current project better; it's about evolving as an animator and as a business professional. 

So, the next time you face destructive criticism, take a moment to process it, find the constructive core, and use it as a stepping stone towards becoming a better animator.

If you’re looking for more insights and support on your animation journey, our Animation Business Accelerator Program provides insights, resources, and a supportive community to help professionals navigate the evolving landscape. 

If you’re an animator who’s looking to start your own studio or grow your career, check out our blog on How to Start an Animation Studio to kickstart your animation career today, or give our free Masterclass a try first if you’re curious.

rocket for boa

Lacking Business Skills as an Animator?

Transform your animation skills into a profitable business with our expert-led free training.
Business of Animation Footer Logo
Helping Animators Succeed

Feeling Stuck in Your Animation Career? Learn How to Break the $10,000 Per Month Barrier!

crossmenuchevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram