I wanted to write this simple little article, because there are some points to take into consideration when dealing with the artistic community. I thought I knew how to be courteous, and kind when I joined in, and I did, but there were some things I didn’t know about receiving critique. In this article I’m going to cover it all, and what to expect from an artistic community, and what to do when someone else doesn’t follow the simple etiquette.
We all worry about making our art public, because it could breed hurtful comments. This is only true when you post your art in a community that caters to such people. Before I give some of the simple rules, I want to also point out where to put your art for the best results.
Where To Go
I’ve found from experience, and from the experience of others, that it’s best to stick to art-based sites when you are starting out. The reason being, is that you will always get constructive criticism, as well as praise. This is what you need to help you more forward. Needless to say, praise doesn’t always come with every comment, but there is always helpful critique to allow you to see what the viewer sees, and how to build upon that view. To give a few examples, Deviant Art, Blender Artists, and CG Society are examples of great artistic websites, which should be used as much as possible.
On the other side of the fence, there is a lot of bitterness, and hate that comes with the territory. Examples of sites to get poor responses from are, imgur, and reddit. The people here range from all ages, and are looking at a variety of images, including the viral memes we see day to day. Even if these like your piece, they may not understand why, so feedback wouldn’t benefit your learning. Understandably, there are reddit art groups, but I still observed the same behavior, where “you suck” is a common reply. The reason for this, is that these sites are more mainstream, in the sense that people who are not artists view the majority of the images.
1. Leave Your Emotions At the Door
So now that you’ve found a community, it’s time to learn some unwritten rules, but sometimes written. Just like the title of this section says, “leave your emotions at the door”. You need to come into these communities with a level head, giving and taking advice. No matter what has happened in your personal life, it shouldn’t effect how you interact with others. If you do let your emotions project through your words, many people will simply distance themselves from you, as you could have very well presented a negative vibe to the community.
2. It’s not a “pissing contest”
So, it’s time to post that first piece. Remember you are posting to receive critique, and to learn to make even better art. You are not posting to prove to other that you are better than someone else, and they are not looking to see if you are better than someone else.
3. Take it in and soak it up
Once your piece receives some critique, read every word carefully, and try to see what the viewer sees. One of the best reasons to post pieces for other artists is to see what they see, because even some of the most obvious issues to some, may not be so obvious to you. Remember these views, and build upon them.
4. Do NOT become defensive
I am very guilty of doing this before, until it was mentioned to me. You do not want to be defense of your piece as to why it looks a certainly way to someone else. Simply take the critique, and build on it. People will not think any less of you, unless you actually defend your mistakes.
5. Do NOT make excuses
This goes hand-in-hand with number 4, but sometimes we see them as different issues. Do not make excuses for your mistakes either. It still looks like a petty attempt to redeem something that isn’t lost. Remember, you’re showing your piece to learn, not to prove yourself to everyone else.
6. Kill them with kindness
If you do receive a “toxic” comment to a piece, simply do what the title says. By applauding them for their time taken to comment, and give feedback is always a good way to deal with it. If you retaliate, you are only going to fuel the fire.
7. They are artists too!
Remember that the people commenting on your piece are artists too. They are passing on their knowledge to you, so that you can better your style and technique, so do not take critique personal. Some may be more blunt than others, but they are still there to help.
8. Giving Critique
Now that you know how to react to critique, you want to know how to give critique. Give critique you would like to receive. I personally find that giving compliments on parts of the piece first, show people that I see beauty in their piece, so when I give the critique, they understand that I’m trying to give advice on how to make the piece look better overall. This is a great method to use with a lot of newer artists, but any artist loves to get praise as well as critique.
9. Do NOT argue about software
This is a rule I personally stand by, but is not really used too much. When dealing with software, you will run across the occasional computer enthusiast that thinks they are an artist, who will argue software until the sun goes down. Software is the tool we use to express our inner creativity. Software does not determine how much skill we have, and it certainly is not an instant “I’m better than you” badge. Use what you are comfortable with, and what works.