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Submitted on
September 24, 2012
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Another Advice Journal: On Criticism

Mon Sep 24, 2012, 1:13 PM
Top Bird

I was taught, and have also learned through experience, that it is very important to take both compliments and criticism if you want to improve upon your skills as well as your business (should you have one).

Now compliments are always nice to receive. They bolster our confidence, they let us know that we're doing something that is pleasing to someone else out there other than ourselves. They're the fuzzy-feel-good stuff that keeps us going.  Easy to accept, easy to build upon.

Criticism is equally as important. It's the yin to the yang and should not overpower our focus, but nor should we ignore it.  Criticism let's us know that there are people out there that don't like what we're doing for some reason, and we may not agree with their point of view!  But if you step back for a second, and just try to look at it through their eyes, and even just try to make the changes that the critic would like to see, you might discover a better way to do your art or business.  Even if ultimately you decide not to follow the critic's advice, you have opened your mind to new possibilities and your creativity will grow :)

Now criticism generally comes in two forms.  Constructive and ignorant. Constructive criticism generally comes from a person who has some knowledge about what he or she is judging, and can give you a personal opinion without insulting you.  This type of criticism is easier to take and turn into something helpful.  Now ignorant criticism usually comes from a person who knows little to nothing about what they are judging (and from what I've noticed, most don't care to educate themselves on it either).  But they do have opinions, and they are entitled to those, and in fact their opinions may coincide with those of others who don't speak up.  This is important. I know its very hard to take advice from someone who insults you and knows little about what you do.  But let's try to remember that these people are saying something that could help us, it's just disguised in a wrapper of immature emotion.  If we take off the ugly wrapper, there's a nugget inside to be learned from.

If someone says to you "Your art is so boring, you're just trying to be like *insert name of more popular artist here* except not as good."  It would be so easy to just go off on them wouldn't it?  It was a mean comment, and likely hurtful to you.  But starting an argument with them only escalates and never solves the situation, AND it puts you in a bad light.  My best advice for the actual person behind the comment, would be to politely ignore them.  But for the comment itself, let's unwrap it:  They said your art is boring, similar in style to someone else's, and that it isn't good.  If we look at this in a positive way, we can see that they might be saying your art could use work in the individuality department.  Perhaps you might want to try and discover who you are, and how you express yourself in your art. What are you trying to say with your art? Why? Don't worry about style. Style is what comes naturally when you express what you want to say, in a way that is most comfortable to you.  They said your art was similar to someone else's.  Perhaps you might be seeking out the "popular" form of art at the time to gain attention?  It's not necessarily bad to jump on the band-wagon, but try to do it in your own original way. Try to be different by being totally yourself.  And they told you your work wasn't good. Well, everyone can improve themselves over the years :) No worries there, just keep practicing and experimenting and improve yourself one tiny step at a time, one little day at a time.

Now whichever you get on a daily basis, compliment or criticism, you ultimately get to pick and choose what you agree and disagree with, and how it will affect your art.  And it's okay to disagree with someone, and stick to the original way you do things if you feel that is best for your art :)  You shouldn't be wishy washy in your ways, but at the same time you shouldn't be rigid either.  Seek for a balance where you know who you are, where your goals should take you but let your mind stay open as to which path might get you there.

Comments welcome!

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Fox-Starwing Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2012
Exceptionally insightful. Most folks simply cannot take criticism nowadays. Something about political correctness and everyone being right at the same time I think. Excellent dissection of a difficult concept.
WhittyKitty Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2012  Professional Artisan Crafter
well thank you very much :)
Doculean Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2012
That is a curse of mine. I tend to get tediously over analytical. I can find out the oddest things in something almost perfect. BUT that is me, and it's worse when I watch anything on tv or movies. I generally keep my crit to myself most of the time. In time I learned it's basically better to appreciate what was done and enjoy it despite any possible flaws than to go and say 'well I don't like that angle at all' or 'this seems off' and just brush everything away.

Anyway. I feel this could use a post on the main page because it would be an exceptional etiquette guide for crit. Especially on how to take it LOL. I had one person I commished a few years ago. I got some prelims back before the final was supposed to be done and I said somethings that I felt needed a tad bit of fixing... That was it. They blew up on me and asked why I even asked to have the work done if I was going to tear it up, and basically blew me off for two weeks till I got paypal involved to get my refund from them. It was two little things about a SKETCH, yes as sketch of all things. LOL Looking back I still cannot figure out why they flipped instead of making the adjustments even after I was told to let them know if anything was wrong or seemed off... Shrugs, oh well. lol. I have received some neg crit in the past, more often than most I wanted to just retort back about how they were being to over judgemental, but then I figured it would not have been a good idea. I basically thanked them and stepped away for a few days. After going back over my work... *gasp* they were right. I could spot the mistakes and correctives needed. LOL *shrugs* Crit and art is actually kinda nerve-wracking but it should always been taken lightheartedly. As soon as you let the irks of negative crit consume you and force yourself to be better art is not that fun anymore. Let's face it, unless yer gettin payed the big bits to do the work, why stress over it. n.n
HinataFox790 Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow, your message really speaks out alot. Thank you. :hug:
KurokiKumo Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2012
Criticism can be difficult to take. The artist has to realize that they don't have to do everything that was suggested or even any of it. The one offering the criticism has to realize this too, that they aren't always going to like everything they see, that the artist can ignore them entirely and it really doesn't matter. I've seen people give criticism about style, like 'your drawings are crud" or "Your person's fingers are too pointy" and stuff like that, which really shouldn't be the topic of critiques.
rainslick Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
I'm glad you're so level-headed. All too often I see artists on dA completely unable to take any form of criticism whatsoever, though you're also equally calling out some "critics", haha.
WhittyKitty Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2012  Professional Artisan Crafter
:3 well i try to be level headed, though sometimes its hard because I'm really a very emotional person XD what gets to me most i think is not usually what is said, just HOW it is said...some people... >.<+
AdarkerNEMISIS Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2012  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
i like this! i hate when you tell someone something looks off. and their like........well I have it right here and it looks fine and my customer likes it.

does not mean that there has to be a dislike.
this hold true in taxidermy.

As i learned in taxidermy, Take a step back, look at. if everything looks ok. call someone over, some one who knows and even dose not know as as if something looks right.
someone who hasnt been working on it can see thing better then you. they have an idea what its looks like, and they really can tell.

i just dislike those who you give them that heads up and they brush you off like you are nothing to them. then you see it over and over. and its not just one person who sees it its others. when you could have improved on that single advice, instead it now leans to your downfall. Listen, and fallow even in the slightest touch! work on improvement, do no discourage it.
mysteriouswhitewolf Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This is so wise. Thank you. I think everyone gets rude comments now and then, but you are right, inside the wrapper might be a nugget of truth. :) I will keep this at the forefront of my mind from now on with criticism.
WhittyKitty Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2012  Professional Artisan Crafter
I'm glad this journal could evoke some thoughts! And even happier if it helps you out in the future :) Thanks for the comment <3
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