Giving and Receiving Critiques

Seeking feedback is necessary for artistic growth, but it is also possibly the hardest thing to find reliably. Good teachers and excellent peers can lead you on the path to having a thorough understanding of your craft.

Being a helpful teacher yourself is another acquired skillset. How do you know when you have helpful advice, or just a personal preference? It’s worthwhile to make the effort to be a helpful peer to your fellow artists. You’ll make good connections, broaden your appreciation for different art and ideas, and strengthen your understanding of art concepts by verbalizing them to others.

How do I give a good critique?

A good critique tries to consider the artist and their goals. Give context for your opinions, and try to be objective about what is technical vs. your own personal tastes and biases. Ask artists what they want to improve on, and be curious about their interests. Try to frame things positively, and push people to have hope and want to work hard.

“I like this pose, but the shoulder is looking dislocated. You might need to move it forward to make it feel more natural, like in this reference.”

“There’s a ton of detail going on here, but it can be better to have a few places of lower detail to balance out the composition, here’s an example.”

“What sort of art do you admire? I feel like you are aiming for this style, but knowing more about your goals might help us give advice.”

What are examples of bad critiques?

Bad advice does not consider the person receiving it. Crits shouldn’t be designed to crush someone's spirit or make them feel hopeless. If something just isn’t your thing, it may be better to let people comment who are more experienced and interested in that area of art. Even if someone is picking up concepts slowly or getting frustrated, it’s not an open invitation to treat them poorly.

“There is nothing I can say to you other than read lots of Loomis books.”

“Stop drawing anime.”

“Fan art is unoriginal.”

“This style is a fad that will go away, you should just do something else.”

“You just need to try harder.”

“You’re too much of an amature for me to even start critiquing”

How do I get useful feedback on my work?

Help us cater to your artistic needs and goals. When posting work, consider including this information for context:

  • Tell us what your objectives where with the piece you want critiques.
  • Share anything you were struggling with while you were working on it.
  • Tell us what your goals are as an artist. Are you a hobbyist learning landscapes for fun? Putting together a portfolio to get into art school? A professional refining your skills in a certain area?
  • How long have you been practicing this form of art?
  • Who are some artists you admire who's style you strive to have in your own work?

How should I respond to criticism?

There are a lot of ways you can respond. Generally, it is polite to show that you appreciate that someone took the time to give you feedback on your work.

It’s important to keep in mind that critiques on your work aren’t personal attacks. Feedback is meant to help you see things from a different point of view. An artist might be trying to guide you away from mistakes they feel they made in the past.

Arguing with the person critiquing you won’t be productive. It is their opinion based on their knowledge (or lack thereof). Think of them as simply opinions intended to help you out.

You don’t have to accept every critique that comes your way, especially if the critique is subjective rather than objective. With time and experience you’ll have a better understanding of where you want to go with your work. Try to keep an open mind, but also have confidence to shed advice that doesn’t serve you.

If someone is being hostile and rude or is actively trying to discourage you, report it.

Keeping your ego in balance

Egos come with being an artist. It is just a fact. If you didn't feel good about your work and didn't enjoy creating it, why would you do it? The sense of accomplishment is a great feeling, and you SHOULD feel good about the hard work you do.

In communities, it’s easy for egos to get a little out of control. When a bunch of artists in a room, each with their own opinion of what is good art and what isn't is always bound to lead to a bit of head butting. This is a community that is meant to be friendly and helpful. Be proud of yourself, be proud of the work you do, but keep it in check. Be respectful to your fellow artists who are different from you.

As much as possible, be open to criticism from people of various skill levels. Whether you choose to use them or not is up to you, but be open to the fact that they're going to happen. If you accept them with courtesy and grace, and maybe try to learn a bit from them and open your mind, you will help make this a strong community.

If you choose to disregard everyone who gives you advice because you consider yourself better than everyone here, then this is not the community for you.

Finally, people who post rude, off point or otherwise useless comments posed as criticism will be penalized by the mods. If you see posts such as this, use the "Report" feature to get the attention of the moderators.

Wait, but what if I think I suck?

Everyone has to start somewhere! Art takes hard work, and it doesn’t help to get down on yourself. Being humble is fine, but remember that having a little confidence is sometimes needed for motivation. Believe that you are worthy of kindness and that your art has value, even if it's just to you.

Find enjoyment in learning and studying, it’ll guide you through the times when you are getting down on yourself. Just remember, begging (or demanding) praise, attention, or sympathy won’t generally go over well with your peers. Wanting to work hard is what gets you support. Embrace your work ethic and show effort whenever you can.