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Thread: How to take critique/criticism well.

  1. #1
    Bunnies & Rainbow Socks Array Kayness's Avatar
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    Jun 2012
    9w1 sp/sx

    Default How to take critique/criticism well.

    Ok so I'm a freelance digital artist.

    I'm on this other forum. It's an art forum frequented by both students and industry professionals.

    They have this subforum where you can submit a sample of your works so that you can get your portfolio critiqued by the pros.

    I consulted @Stephen first, because as much as I'd like to get feedback from the pros, I know that I am also my own very harsh critic (I'd say harshest), very perfectionistic and strive to be very meticulous. While I do enjoy the process of painting, I must admit that there's always this little feeling of nervousness bubbling just below my subconscious. I'm very nervous that I'll get criticism because it makes me feel ashamed and obsess: why didn't I realize this earlier? Why didn't I preempt and foresee these problems? I can't believe I'm so sloppy...etc.

    You can say that my Ennea One-wing comes out very strongly in this area: I want to be perfect and so good so that nobody can criticize me. I know that realistically I'm not so bad (I'm decent enough of an artist to make a living out of it) but still, it makes me burn with shame every time I see somebody else tells me that there's something wrong with my art. I'm not angry at them, I'm just angry & ashamed at myself that I couldn't be better.

    He said that I should, and so I did.

    So I submitted these pictures:

    Critiques that I got so far:
    • too many clashing/bright colours
    • too flat
    • not enough values (greyscale)
    • anatomy is my weak point
    • lack of focus
    • perspective not quite right

    and wow they really haven't even tried to mince their words >_<

    As painful as it is for me to be told that what I do isn't quite up to par in some ways, I'd rather know now, so that I can improve, rather than being in my own happy-happy little insulated world doing the same mistakes over and over again.

    I guess what I'm asking is that - how can I just take it so easily, like, "oh, thanks for the critiques! really appreciate you pointing them out, I'll work on them!" rather than burn with shame and wanting to crawl into a hole and hide there or something?
    9w1 4w5 5w4 sp/sx RCUAI
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    "I set about seeking a style in the realm of legend. Something that might allow me to give free rein to my juvenile sense of romanticism and the beautiful image"
    - Leni Riefenstahl

  2. #2
    Senior Member Array Etherea's Avatar
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    Jun 2012


    Maybe they're not providing enough positive feedback to go along with it? I find that criticism goes down a lot better with some nice compliments. For instance, I actually love the clashing and bright colors personally. Especially in the second pic, where it helps add to the feeling of whimsical fun. I think your art is great and if you were to take the suggestions (not criticisms ) of your peers, your art would be breathtaking. Remember, people aren't saying your work sucks or here's why I don't like it, they're telling you how to be better. Since that's what you want anyway, they're on the side. I hope this helps a little, I know it can be tough to hear negatives about something you put a lot of work into.

    Additionally, I also think you're really good at adding emotional depth to your work. I think that's amazing. Maybe it's because I can barely draw stock figures (seriously, ask @Phoenix, he's played pictionary with me), but I'm blown away by how well you can really make your art come alive.

  3. #3


    I'm not an art critic - so, I can't counter-critique ---- but quite a few on the list about just seem more like personal gripes as opposed to proper art critique.

    I guess what I'm asking is that - how can I just take it so easily, like, "oh, thanks for the critiques! really appreciate you pointing them out, I'll work on them!" rather than burn with shame and wanting to crawl into a hole and hide there or something?
    Since you're a core 9, I don't think you would be as likely to react with shame/counter-shame as react with an inner surge of anger, and then by trying to repress that anger.

  4. #4
    Nips away your dignity Array Fluffywolf's Avatar
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    Mar 2009
    9 sp/sx


    Uff, I'm not much of an art critic either. Every drawing depends on the intentions you had in mind for it. From above pictures, I assume the polka dot dress beign done that way is artistic impression?

    Anyway, you have your own style, that in itself is worth something. If you want to do something with it, find something to do with that style.

    Like for childrens books and such, I think your colorful style would particularly suit that well.

  5. #5


    In order for me to be able to accept criticism I have to feel like the other person is accurate in his or her critiques. Otherwise I just feel like they are attacking me.

    My high school art teacher would say something like "you need to make these shadows darker, then the three-dimensional form will really pop," and I would try it and would usually come to see the reason behind the statement. But sometimes different people just have different opinions of how something should be done.

    So for me, what has worked:
    • Separating identity/self from the work and strategy (as much as you can)
    • Be willing to at least try a new suggestion to see if it's valid
    • Accept that there are different approaches
    Your kisses, sweeter than honey. But guess what, so is my money.

  6. #6
    .~ *aĉa virino* ~. Array Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Apr 2007
    549 sx/sp
    LII Ni


    Quote Originally Posted by Etherea View Post
    . Remember, people aren't saying your work sucks or here's why I don't like it, they're telling you how to be better. Since that's what you want anyway, they're on the side.
    I think right there is a useful framing comment.

    For you, Kay, it seems that you're wanting to operate from perfection, and anything less is deficient. You make a living from doing art, and I daresay that out of anyone you'll run into online, you're going to be one of the best artists out there. You're already well ahead of the pack. Basically, you're trying to improve your skill from Really Good to Flawless, and to do that, you need to find any nuanced issues with your ability and fix them. So it might help if you drew a picture of a bell curve, put yourself on it, hang it on the wall, and keep looking at it so you could see where you fall (well to the right).

    I mean, yes, if I sit here and stare at each piece, I can see why some of the critiques might have been made, but you are operating at a level far above what I could probably be able to accomplish with art even with some practicing on my end. Don't lose sight of that.

    I imagine if someone were to tell me these kinds of things regarding my piano ability or my writing ability (the two art fields I consider myself very good in), I might appreciate the feedback, but it would also smart a bit. I just try to keep telling myself the same things I've just told you. You're at a level where fighting ahead means suffering some discomfort. I think honing talent is really a "fight" scenario, just like losing weight; you have to brutal and work very hard to fine-tune things; you also have to make painful choices as you compose art, all in order to get better. (A common phrase in writing is "kill your darlings," because often the things we emotionally want to put in will muddy the writing or dilute it in some way, if not derail; it's a brutal process to improving one's pieces.)

    I also agree with @gromit about how sometimes different people will have different opinions about what makes good art. So there needs to be some discernment there on your part. If you keep hearing the same comment about a work of yours, or about your style, then it bears examining. If you discern someone's advice is more about their personal preference, then you can set it on the shelf momentarily. There is no room there for self-protection, you have to be honest in how you organize the feedback; don't undermine yourself by accepting feedback that is just indicative of a preference, but acknowledge feedback that seems to be consistent.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  7. #7
    The Iron Giant


    Kay, there's a couple of things you ought to consider in terms of context here. Firstly, we asked for criticism. That's specifically requesting negative commentary on your art. The idea is to ask a variety of your peers to look at your art and see what they think you could do to get even better.

    Secondly, remember that you are already a professional, with a pretty steady stream of work, who actually turns jobs down because they don't pay enough or your work load is already too full. You work almost constantly on art that you get paid for. Several of the pieces you showed are personal art pieces that you did for yourself, for fun. I expect these are the ones where the criticism about colors was leveled. You certainly know how to use color, and when to make it bright and exciting and when not to. Think about the children's book you're illustrating right now. The client has specifically asked you to make it brighter and more colorful. It's all about what the customer asks for... in the case of your personal art, you are the customer, and you wanted colorful.

    None of this of course detracts from the value of the criticism. You ask me my opinion all the time, and I love all your art, and I'm honest about which pieces I like more than others. Even having studied art myself, and as a former art student, I don't have anywhere near the perspective on the work that other current established working artists like yourself have. I think you've been given a great gift here from these people. If you haven't already thanked them for their feedback, you might consider doing it now. Then you can look at their criticism critically, and decide what you actually do want to work on.

    Remember that an assessment of your work is not an evaluation of you as a person. It's not an evaluation of how hard you're working, it's not even an evaluation of your ability now, or what your potential is. It's just a subjective evaluation of the work you've presented for critique.

  8. #8
    FRACTALICIOUS Array phobik's Avatar
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    Apr 2009


    Quote Originally Posted by Kayness View Post
    I guess what I'm asking is that - how can I just take it so easily, like, "oh, thanks for the critiques! really appreciate you pointing them out, I'll work on them!" rather than burn with shame and wanting to crawl into a hole and hide there or something?
    You'll have to detach your [mind-made] identity [aka ego] from your work.

    Good luck
    To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.
    ~ Elbert Hubbard

    Music provides one of the clearest examples of a much deeper relation between mathematics and human experience.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Array UniqueMixture's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
    378 sx/so


    Both phobik and etherea give great advice. Let their voices help guide you
    For all that we have done, as a civilization, as individuals, the universe is not stable, and nor is any single thing within it. Stars consume themselves, the universe itself rushes apart, and we ourselves are composed of matter in constant flux. Colonies of cells in temporary alliance, replicating and decaying and housed within, an incandescent cloud of electrical impulses. This is reality, this is self knowledge, and the perception of it will, of course, make you dizzy.

  10. #10
    Junior Member Array Manifold's Avatar
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    Sep 2011


    I agree with @Jennifer. One area in which I excel is public speaking. My father was an astounding speaker, and I'm used to astounding people in my ongoing public speaking classes. So, occasionally, when a teacher offers counsel instead of just commendation, when I know that, compared to the majority of people in the class, I did amazingly well on that particular point, it erks me. BUT, comparing myself to others who (for the most part) aren't at the same skill level, doesn't help me to improve and to define my PERSONAL best. I'm pretty certain that those who critiqued you recognized your undeniable talent. But, as @Stephen said, looked for areas you could improve YET MORE since you asked for it. Still, it's hard to take. It will probably always be hard to take. What I tell myself is, "take your time to assimilate the information." It will initially hurt. But, after some time "digesting" you may be able to look back over things and see where you agree that you could do better. After applying the advice, you will possibly feel differently. *Allow yourself* that initial hurt reaction. And also know it will fade.

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