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Thread: Giving good criticism

  1. #14
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    Just something to add that I don't see here posted (yet). Just hope it helps and comes off as coherent.

    [Blind] Praise is not critique. One of the worst things you can do to an artist (especially a beginner) is give them too much of such, ignoring flaws and whatnot.

    Most people here already know what I'm talking about (insert popular art site here) which is why it's not said, but to elaborate for the hell of it: You'll often see people who like an artist's work go up to them give said artist a pat on the back about how good said work is (with varying levels of writing quality) that, ironically, doesn't give any indication on why it's good. While not bad in themselves (if not numerous), giving such when an artist is actively looking to improve is counterproductive, and should be replaced with actual advice. Unless the artist looking for straight up encouragement, in which case have at it. <_>

    The problem is that these comments in stupidly large amounts from all over the place whether they're on purpose or by accident (even here, even by hypocritical Artsy people), and it's up to the artist's job to sift through whats the "right" kind of critique and what's the "wrong" kind. To that end it's all about how objective you can stay in an every changing environment, and how much you can improve yourself when you take advice to heart.

    I hope that helps...
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  3. #15
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    I only say 'Shut up and draw' or 'Go learn your fundamentals' or 'Draw more things' because it's physically impossible to reach through the screen and start slapping.
    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).
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  5. #16
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    Google needs to get on that: googleSlap.

    The mobile version will be iSlap.
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  7. #17
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    Lots of good responses. I have just a few things to add:

    Lead your crit with praise. Always. Find something to like, and say it or write it first before getting into the meat of the crit. Art is personal, a kind of surrogate self, especially to young people who are not yet in possession of themselves. They must be led to understand that the critique is given out brotherhood, rather than animosity. Or else they will react instead of listen. And the whole process will be frustrating and a pointless waste of time.

    Secondly, if you are not a professional, tell your first impressions only. Do not attempt to analyze. Art can be notoriously tricky to figure out, and most people who make at least some of their money at art are completely clueless about composition, drawing, values, color, expression, and much else at at a technical level (relying instead on vital instinct to make their works work). Don't be the guy who gives wrong directions just because they "wanted to help."
    Last edited by kev ferrara; December 7th, 2012 at 07:49 PM.
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  9. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by kev ferrara View Post
    Lots of good responses. I have just a few things to add:

    Lead your crit with praise. Always. Find something to like, and say it or write it first before getting into the meat of the crit. Art is personal, a kind of surrogate self, especially to young people who are not yet in possession of themselves. They must be led to understand that the critique is given out brotherhood, rather than animosity. Or else they will react instead of listen. And the whole process will be frustrating and a pointless waste of time.
    Really good observation and advice there kev...something I need to be better at I think.
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  10. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by kev ferrara View Post
    Secondly, if you are not a professional, tell your first impressions only. Do not attempt to analyze... Don't be the guy who gives wrong directions just because they "wanted to help."
    How many pros are there per active amateur here? And how many of those regularly critique Sketchbooks and Critique Center posts?
    ...which is only my opinion.
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  11. #20
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    Well, I spend time in Critique and I'm an unemployed pro. I know it sounds perverse, but in improving my own drawings, sometimes it's more helpful to me to see pictures that aren't working than to see pictures that are. CA is my main resource for both kinds.

    I look at many, many more pictures than I comment on, though. Honestly, for 90% of them, the only good response is, "cut the shit and go draw an apple for about a month." Or, "no, you are not the one uniquely gifted snowflake who gets to dispense with the fundamentals and jump right to the space marine fighting a mermaid on the rungs of a giant geodesic frame made of fire and water floating in the infinity of space."

    Kev is right that if you don't give them a bit of praise, the rest of your message may not reach them. But sometimes I really do feel like reaching through the screen and giving somebody a good slap. When I look at the five-star threads in Finally Finished, or the five-star sketchbooks, or any one of the galleries you reach from the thumbnails at the top of the site...I am awed and humbled. The best art here says to me, "sit up straight and put on your A game, Weasel; this is a serious place."

    Then you go to CC and somebody wants to know what you think of this scribbly thing they spent fifteen minutes on, and I want to go, "what I think is *slap-slap-slap*. Go draw an apple."
    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).
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  13. #21
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    Wait...the thumbnails aren't at the top of the page any more. I didn't notice that with the redesign.
    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).
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  14. #22
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    How many pros are there per active amateur here?
    A: 1:1,000?

    And how many of those regularly critique Sketchbooks and Critique Center posts?
    A: Not many

    But there are pros ready and waiting to help when you sign up for TAD classes, or buy TAD videos. And its good information worth paying for and it isn't all that expensive for the value. The site essentially switched a few years ago from mostly being pros volunteering information and critiques to a paywall model of that same service professionalized into a high-end digital classroom product. My sense is that a number of pros stopped volunteering information once other pros were being paid in a professional capacity to instruct through the auspices of this site. There's also the question of the downturn in the economy, and the globalization of digital art, which has simultaneously increased competition and lowered pay, thereby decreasing the free time of many pros and their ability to be as generous with their time as they once were. But these are all my opinions on the situation, and I wouldn't insist on them.
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  16. #23
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    Oh. I didn't realize I was undercutting anyone's paid work.

    There's my joy in tatters.
    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).
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  17. #24
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    I don't think the introduction of TAD actually had that much effect, certainly not as much as some behind the scenes politics and the rise of other forms of social media.

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  19. #25
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    Even if you decide not to post critiques for fear of getting something wrong or offending someone, it is a good exercise to read critiques given to others and critique other people's work for yourself. Looking at other people's mistakes makes you aware of them, and then it's easier to ask yourself whether those are mistakes that you yourself make.

    You should have some experience of your own before giving critique, though, otherwise you'll be totally unconvincing if there's further interaction. It's easy to say "draw more from life" or "work on the basics" but then you're going to get questions like "why life?" and "what are the basics?" and if you haven't thought things through very well you'll just sound dumb.
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  20. #26
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    On the ratio of pros: amateurs...kev is probably right. I tend to offer quite a bit of advice, tips, whatever because I've been fortunate to have a broad career that touches on most things here (though I steer clear of things like animation, sculpting, etc. where I have very little pro experience). I get a bit frustrated from time to time as I sense my comments fall on deaf ears (also when individuals want to nitpick simply to be contrary) - but then I try to remember that there are many who just "lurk" who may benefit from what I have to share.

    Anyway, it's sort of in my genes to teach/mentor and at least try to share some of my experience with others...which is what keeps me here.

    Edit: Oh yeah...and I don't want Stoat slapping me through my screen!
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