Thursday, August 9, 2007

A Few Thoughts on Critiquing

Just a few thoughts on critiquing for those that want to listen to a professional artist that has heard it all, gotten furious sometimes and in general laughed a lot over the years.

Constructive criticism is nice if you want it but when somebody picks at your piece too much it drags you down. I know the people who love to critique like to say the point of it is not to to "nitpick". This is, however, what usually happens. If you point everything out about a picture that you believe to be wrong and then do not say one good thing about it that is too harsh. There are always better sides to all artwork. This applies to writing as well as drawn or painted work.

Of course there all always the 'that sux lol' people. Those don't hurt at all, no matter how much they think they're damaging my self ego. I know I'm good. I make a living off of what I do. And notice I said good - I don't think I'm "great" by any standards. But after many years of publishing and creating my website I have a firm handle on what I can and cannot do. And I've heard so much.

Comments like "the nose is ugly" are simply are not constructive criticism. They are hurtful instead. If you take a few seconds out of your day to comment, then you can surely pin down why it's so "unattractive" to prompt you to say that. And if you don't like a piece at all maybe you shouldn't comment. The phrase 'if you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all' works on the internet as much as it does in real life. If you simply hate something do not critique it. Hate is, as I have said before, a strong negative emotion that should not be involved during a critique. If you hate a piece there may be jealousy involved or some other emotion that will be damaging to your impartiality. "Dislike" is about the closest thing that you should feel.

I usually get "hate" comments when I draw fan art, because I rather like inserting my character with the male one I'm in love with from another series. The fact that the artwork is good causes some of these people what appears to be physical pain as they struggle to insult me by any means possible. I once opened up one of my many fanart galleries and saw someone had reported about half my work. Good thing I keep all my files: there was no copying on my part (my pieces were all original) and everything was reinstated. The funny part is that the people who trace and copy things on that same gallery site are much more "popular" than me and get tons of page hits. Interesting.


I've gotten comments from people less than half my age that thought they were "Art Majors" that tore apart a piece I really liked (that had gotten published). Let's examine this idea. Anyone can seriously pick something - even a Master's classic piece (Michaelangelo, James Ector, etc) -- and critique it. But sometimes it's not needed. If it sets out to do what the artist wanted it's complete. Sometimes these critique lovers feel the need to "judge" art. This drives them to eagerly read or click on everything in a person's gallery. But what is good to one person is bad to another. It's all relative and hardly matters sometimes. I've also rendered figural drawings that someone will say 'the forehead looks too big' but it is based off an actual picture. The measurements are perfectly correct. Maybe the forehead does look too big. But that's just what size it is and if you try to explain this some people wig out on you and say you're 'too sensitive'.

I get that a lot.

I'll admit I am touchy about this because my art is my entire life. I love my work and it's a part of me like no one that is not an artist can comprehend. It's as if tiny little 2D children run around that are each so dear to me that I can barely stand it.

But even worse than regular "bad" critiques is what one of my friends suggested: snide comments on gift art. I just had this happen to me and it hurts a lot. The problem is when I was drawing the art I decided to style a part of it as I normally would in a simpler way. It didn't mean I couldn't render something. My form is usually very "easy" with flowing lines. The art got drawn the way it did because it was how I decided to do it. I didn't even think about it; it flowed on the screen and was completed that way.

What did I get in return? You'll love this.

I received a comment back about how 'hard' it was to draw that certain thing, wasn't it? (Insert wink emoticon here). ;)

I gaped at the screen, astonished.

And then I decided I've trusted people too much. I'll never draw gift art again, it's more of a waste of my time than it is anything else. It never seems to be appreciated. I usually get my art spanked when all I do when I get a gift is say "My goodness! THANK YOU." Anyway, after my hormones had cooled down and I vented to my husband a bit, I was calmer. The next day I sat down and in exactly 5 minutes fixed the thing that was "so hard to draw". Obviously it wasn't that hard. The hard part was my heart after that incident. I had drawn something for someone that had given me a surprise piece of gift art themselves. They didn't expect the return gift, it was just my way of thanking them. They had responded with the usual 'thank you' but also that hurtful jab that hovered on the very verge of insult. Please people, think before you comment.

What would you want people to say to you?

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