Mazarine Memon - How To Take Criticism

‘The Artistic Edge’ by addressing Criticism

Hello and welcome back! This year I’d like to continue the conversation through my series, ‘The Artistic Edge’ by addressing Criticism.

How To Take Criticism


Unless you are beginning your career and are still in the process of finding your style, your art is pretty much an extension of you. When I entertain for example, I am often told when they see how I set my cheese board, or set my table, “this is so you.” From my use of textures on a plate to a colour theme for floral arrangements– my art is in everything I do because it is who I am.


That being said, knowing how to take criticism is an integral part of growing as an artist and person. I’ve put together some stories, tips, and resources to help you deal with criticism. 


Understand that it is another perspective

Whilst I don’t usually get bogged down or discouraged by actual criticism of my art, I definitely feel dejected when I don’t get into the some of the coveted shows I apply to. I have to, at that time, remind myself that it’s not me or my art, but someone’s perspective. 

Their perspective comes from their own lived experiences and tastes– it does not reflect the caliber of my work. It’s taken me some time to work with this thought process, hopefully you’re able to adopt it much quicker than me!


Stop Your First Reaction

In a fantastic little article, one of the best recommendations they give to taking criticism is to delay your initial response. 

“If your first reaction is to lash back at the person giving the criticism, or to become defensive, take a minute before reacting at all. Take a deep breath, and give it a little thought.” Fantastic advice! Taking a moment to listen before reacting will help you calm down to digest the intention of the person’s words. 


Stay positive

You have a choice: you can either use criticism in a positive way to improve, or in a negative way that will lower your self-esteem and cause stress, anger or even aggression. Building relationships with people you trust enough to tell you the truth is a pathway to success, no matter what you do. Whether in the boardroom or the workshop, a positive mindset will bring you closer to being the person you want to be. 

Thank the Critic

Another great piece of advice is to thank the critic– yes, thank them! Even if someone is harsh and rude, you are taking the upper hand by opening a conversation with empathy instead of aggression. They might have had a bad day, or maybe they’re just a negative person in general. Be the bigger person! 


Others will admire you and think better of you for rising above the attack. Especially if you remain positive and actually take the criticism well. 

Build confidence in your work

It’s o.k. to copy artists you admire when you are starting out. Use examples as a lesson and practice– sure –but don’t try to sell replicas. Unless you connect with your art, you won’t have others connect with it. That, in turn, will lead to self doubt and the need to stop creating. Pick topics and ideas that you truly love. 

When you bring your own flair to your work, you’ll be able to support it wholeheartedly because you will know it comes from the truth of who you are.

Letting go is an artform

Be authentic! I cannot stress that enough. In your most authentic way, create beauty for others to admire. If you have any doubts about a piece you have created, put it aside and start something else. Go back to it after a bit. 

Two things can happen– you will see it with a fresh eye and realize it’s not that bad. It might need just a bit of work before it is ready to go out in the world. Or, you may feel it really isn’t something you like anymore. In this case, paint over it! Don’t remain stuck when it isn’t working– letting go is also an artform. 

One person’s trash is another’s first place

We were living in Dubai when at one of my art shows, my husband overheard a woman, staring at one of my paintings, say “they really let anyone put anything up.” I was totally taken aback and went back to take a closer look at the piece she was talking about. I have to say, after the initial shock I was pretty miffed– I really loved that piece.

Then, just before I left Dubai I started to research art shows. I decided to participate at the Art Aurora juried show. The same painting won 1st prize in the Mixed Media Category from over 500 entries. It got sold too! 

It’s why I say when you are authentic and connect with your art, you will find your audience. If I had fallen prey to that one woman who commented, after seeing my piece on display, I wouldn’t have gone on to sell it, or win a prize that was handed by the mayor of Aurora in Ontario, Canada. 

Interested in a workshop for your team? Get in touch with me here for more information on a team-building art session to bring creativity into the boardroom.