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I have found as an artist most people you meet will either tell you they like your work or say nothing at all. It is rare when a stranger will tell you anything negative or offer some constructive advice. However, I have found an entire group of people that doesn't hold anything back. Children.
I first noticed this at the zoo. I go through times when I spend a lot of time sculpting at the San Diego Zoo. The last couple of years, I have been working with the mountain lions at the zoo. I will bring all my materials on a little dolly I bought at Costco and spend a few hours at the exhibit at the times I know the cougars are active. If you can imagine the number of people that walk by the exibit, it ranges from dozens to hundreds depending on the day. I usually get the same five questions by adults, but not from children. Here are some actual comments I have heard from kids:
"It is the most beautiful thing I have seen, you are really good."
"It is really scary, it looks like a monster. It is for Halloween?"
"I want it, can I have it?"
"You forgot the tail, cats have tails."
"That is so cool, I wish I could do that."
"I really don't like it, nope, I don't!"
The list goes on and on. After months of hearing these comments, I realized for the most part the kids are often right. I realized if the kids are saying it is scary and I am trying to sculpt something very calming, I did it wrong. If the kids are telling me they want it, then I am on to something. Over time it has become one of the ways I receive honest feedback. Often the comments go from really good to really bad over the course of an hour and I have to rethink things. A lot of the time, I realize it is something I overlooked, like the head is way too big. Their honesty helps me create better work.
Editor's Note: You can view Mark's original post here.