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Three Ways To See Your Art With Fresh Eyes

by Shane Mehling
creativity

fresh eyes

Every artist has to operate in a bubble. That is the only way to pursue your vision, by being isolated from outside influences and finding your own path. But while that is a necessity when you’re crafting the first draft of your work, that can be your biggest barrier to properly revising it. While it helps to get feedback from others, and know how to properly interpret and act on that feedback, you yourself need to be an impartial critic.

And that is really, really difficult. But here are a few tricks that may be able to get you out of the bubble to judge your art objectively:

Hibernation

The most popular one is to hide your project away for as long as you can stand and then go back to it for a critique. The trick is to be able to stick with that. We’re usually so excited about a project (or worried) that we can’t help but take peeks or tell people about it or spend our free time thinking about what to change or what worked out so great about it. Work on something else or do anything you can to shift your attention so when you return to the project, it seems as alien as possible.

Transformation

One guaranteed way to change how you see your work is to change how the work is seen. If you have a painting, take a photo of it and see how it looks on your phone. If you have a photography project, put them on an old scanner and see how they look with shoddy resolution. If you have a story, break up the paragraphs or change the font or copy it longhand or use a typewriter. Anything that changes the way you perceive something can radically alter how you judge it.

Obliteration

This may seem a little daunting, but it can also be incredibly eye-opening: act as though your project has been destroyed. That’s right, start from square one and try to recreate what you just did. You probably won’t get too far before you start seeing yourself making little alterations. Now that you’re back to a blank slate, some of the little missteps you didn’t want to admit to are starting to come to the forefront. But don’t despair — you will also see all of the great things you did and the stuff that you are happy to put back in there. You can never be truly objective looking at your own art, but this way you can see what doesn’t exactly work and what truly means the most.

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Shane Mehling

Shane Mehling is a freelance writer and editor who plays in noiserock bands.