Friday, September 08, 2006

Larsen speaks about the value of criticism

The latest installment of Erik Larsen's "One Fan's Opinion" column really struck me. Here's an excerpt:
A lot of artists surround themselves with guys that love them. These suck ups spend all their time telling that artist that they're "the best they've ever been" and honestly, I don't think they're doing these guys any favors. You don't learn from praise - you learn from criticism. And if you're unwilling to listen, you're unwilling to learn and if you're unwilling to learn you're bound to stagnate and if you stagnate, your work becomes boring routine to look at and execute.
Now, I think that ties in heavily to a lot of what I've said since I first started this blog - especially my recent "Spare Me" post.

Allow me to replace "artists" with "bloggers" (or, if you prefer "people") and "work" with "blog." Maybe it'll speak to you, as well.
A lot of bloggers surround themselves with guys that love them. These suck ups spend all their time telling that blogger that they're "the best they've ever been" and honestly, I don't think they're doing these guys any favors. You don't learn from praise - you learn from criticism. And if you're unwilling to listen, you're unwilling to learn and if you're unwilling to learn you're bound to stagnate and if you stagnate, your blog becomes boring routine to look at and execute.
Now, don't think that only applies to artists or bloggers or anyone else. It's *people* who have a habit of interpreting criticism as a full-scale attack and it's *people,* especially people online (as I encounter quite a few of'em).

I still say a lot of this simply come down to The Golden Rule. Then again, maybe what folks WANT is to never be criticized, so that's why so many of them do their BEST not to offer constructive criticism to anyone else.

Too bad that's been taken to such an extreme, these days.


Anyway, thanks, Mr. Larsen. I don't agree with everything you say, but I hope you keep your column going for at least another year. You've certainly got a perspective that's worth sharing - as a publisher, as a fan, or just as a person - especially as a person.

7 comments:

raiden said...

The one thing I've always like about Larsen is that he will tell you like it is. Right or wrong.

JoJo D. said...

I wish I could have Mr. Larsen's quote (and your's too) posted to my Blog, West. People surround themselves with what I call Me Too's - other people who claim to have experienced the same thing as the blogger, but really haven't, but don't want to disagree with the blogger because they fear being deleted off that blogger's blog roll.

Highlander said...

Uh...

Wow.

Go here.

Not only is it a post completely in agreement with your post here, but... well... you'll like it.

I think.

Excellent blog, btw.

Son of Blog-El said...

Since I don't have a blog, in an ongoing sense, I have to agree with JoJo.

West, I may not agree with you (or anyone else) 100% of the time on all subjects, but I am always willing to engage in thoughtful conversation.

Hell, if I'm being honest, I don't agree with my own BS 100% of the time and am usually glad when someone calls me on it. Eventually...

West said...

Thanks, highlander.

Cool, SoB-E.

Eudaimo said...

Too true, not just for artists, but as you point out, for all web presences. A friend of mine once had an Online Diary where she would post about her personal life. It was really sad to see a gaggle of strangers tell her that everything she wanted was right, that her boyfriend and other people in her life were always always wrong. Useless and harmful.

See also, any comic writer's message board. Even Rob Liefeld is surrounded only by people who tell him he's "like totally the best."

princessdominique said...

I feel you on this. I don't mind people telling me where my books were a little off. It teaches me and I grow for my next project. Life is about growing. I expect it in music, television, movies and everything else.