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  1. #1
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    How to stay humble as an artist?

    I'm bringing this up after reading a post a few seconds ago. I'm usually afraid to give oppinions or crits to people i know in school now, because they might think I'm an ass, or give me a lack of respect for even having a conflicting oppinion. How do you become humble as you progress, and just feel good about yourself and others even if someone gives you a hard time. I really think if pros, and amateures (sp?) will benefit from this discussion a whole lot please help out.

    I learned that you should only give oppinions if asked or insinuated, and always try to make a compliment first before you try criticising them. But, what if they take it to personally, and all the want are compliments? A lot of people seem to think this way.
    "One needs a certain humility to learn, arrogance never does good." Chiseledrocks.com article


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  3. #2
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    I say that the entire art community needs a large kick in the ass as far as all that goes. You never "arrive" with art, you just keep getting better, and for me, there's never a bad time for crit, a lack of crit just encourages stagnation. And I do see that not all artists, especially while not online, think as I do, but I just can't see any good reason to avoid crits, and I can't see any reason to avoid critting people. The best thing you can do for someone is to tell them whatsucks, as far as it's the kind of whatsucks that anyone can fix with practice, like anatomy and proportions and stuff like that.

  4. #3
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    Wisdom, I am personally in an institution right now where crits are standard practice of the day. There is a very diplomatic and practiced way to crit which I see every day.

    1. Stay neutral in saying "I" as in you are not making a general third person observation which is speaking on the behalf of anyone else. Offer the compliment first (which you mentioned) then begin to find areas of concern which you see as being open for improvement.

    You need to be able to read people, the light which they are holding their own work in, if they are casual about it and would seem to care less then you can take the same approach which could be said as "safe".

    BUT tearing the work apart is much better in my opinion though this is only is you feel passionate about the work as well and honestly believe in seeing it improved.

    1. Offer no compliment, offer no way out, grill the shit out of them and let them know where you think they have failed. THEN let them know what it is which is giving you a glimmer of hope that the work may have potential.
    Lock them in a room for a week with only their sketchpad a pencil and a maglight.

    Again, I think this is only an option if YOU honestly want this work to succeed, if there is no drive to do so roll with option 1.

    Wisdom, bottom line is that many people who are happy with their work do not want to find crits which may disrupt that self centered image. But listen to the artist, if they honestly want a hard crit give it to them but if they don't and you think they need it as you believe in their work and the direction they are taking it then let them have it.

    There are so many classes I have been through where these soft little crits take place and NOTHING comes out of it, two weeks later the exact same work shows back up with no changes though there are even obvious perspective problems or continuity issues. This past semester a particular proff tore three students to pieces, one left crying and the other two were so pissed off they didn't return for another two classes, but you know what, when they did come back their work was much stronger. Now, it might have been that they were just pissed at the proff and wanted to shove those words back down his throat or they blew off the steam and really listened to what was said, then made the improvments.

    In the end, these artists are asking for one thing, FOR CRITS, if they are not ready to be shaken a little by their peers or public they are in no way ready to be professionals.

  5. #4
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    I've been called an ass on more than one occation. Asshole even. A besserwisser and a destroyer of confidence.

    But i just call them as i see them, and the people i "offended" with my harsh and honest crits thanked me afterwards, when they came back as evolved artists.. So i rest my case.



    Ps: there are people who refuses to listen to crits no matter what. But that kind of people will never get any better until they start listening to what people have to say. And if they dont... well, atleast you tried.

  6. #5
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    I think its not a matter of how you give criticism, but how one recieves it. Too many people get way too defensive and offended about it. First you have to consider the source the criticism is coming from and its accuracy. Does the person who is criticising you, is he/she qualified to tear your work apart? Are they good at what they do or do they suck and just give you opinion, where there is no relevance.

    One of my drawings got picked in a student show at my college. The guy who picked it was a photographer and he chose my drawing but he also tore (criticised) the drawing apart. Now I asked him for why he chose mine drawing and he mostly said bad things. But also my drawing was picked as best of show by faculty. Out of 80 pieces only seven made it and my drawing was one of them. So I'm not saying he was wrong with his opinions but I don't think he was qualified to give me hard core advice on drawing where he does not draw.

    So its very important to recieve advice and criticism but also be careful not to let it go to your head. Because there are people who want to help you succeed and many others who want to see you fail. Which is "lobster effect", where if you put 2 lobsters together in a bucket and one starts to climb out the other will pull him down. People love to do that also. So just be very open and filter the good from the bad.

  7. #6
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    Call for Renewed Crit Week!

    yo wisdom.
    first of all, whatever comes out of this discussion on how to do it, or when or whatever; i would like to write down this conclusion (preclusion?) up front:

    everybody needs crits and comments and everybody - not only the artist of that particular piece - learns from it.

    there are a lot of sites out there that only do ass-kissing and no butt-kicking. people can go there if they want.

    that being said, giving good crits is difficult. we are on the web. if you are out sketching in the subway or in the parc and somebody comes up and telling you exactly whats wrong etc. you might not be ready for that, and tell this guy to mind his own business. on the web its more difficult; we dont know the people and we dont have all the little signals we can use in real life. in the parc we communicate a lot of things that we dont say.

    maybe its like the school situation Presence was talking about:
    there are people who are ready for crits, they stay in class. the others walk out. the same i guess with CA. if you want to learn, see, show, observe and discuss; this is one on the better places on the web. but for that you have to be open minded, ready to be critted.

    i think if you start a crit you shouldnt have to put your tongue up somebodies ass first. if you keep it rational and open minded, point out which parts dont work - and which do, than we can keep this place from being too nice and actually learn something.

    i call for a renewed crit week.

    tensai
    Last edited by tensai; May 16th, 2005 at 12:36 AM. Reason: add title

  8. #7
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    mrawr i dont know, i feel the same way you do wisdom... but the fact is there are the kinds that dislike the critiques but take it anyways cuz they know itll only improve their skills ... and there are those who dislike it and wont hear of it and believe that they're good as they are already. if ur friends ask you to, then do it--if not, then say its good but eh... u may want to point a little thing here or there to see how they respond. if they cry over it, eek, forget it! if they dont, well, once in a while just kinda point out that this needs a little work here and there...they probably wont change it but if u keep saying it they'll maybe take the hint ><

  9. #8
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    Cow

    Hi,
    -about critics, as I feel more confident with my art, it's easier to take them. I suppose that someone who hate being criticized, feel that critic is the negation of what he already learned, (which is wrong).
    -people criticize for many reasons : one by honesty ; one by jealousy ; some kiss your ass because they want to be loved by you etc... you never really know...
    That's why, on CA for ex, when I got a critic, even a positive one, I look at the other posts the guy wrote, just to understand the way he talk. For ex, If guys like DSillustration or MaxBertolini say to me "good", this word has great value, because they use to speak their mind, give strong crits when they want to.

    About humbelness : artist is not an humble person. He pretends to bring something new to the world : a new concept, a new point of view about a question... he's not a discrete person. He is the one who speak high and loud.
    - I'm not humble at all, but the more I draw, the more I see why artists I admire are better than me, the more I want to do as well as them. At school, if I said something like "I'll try to put a vermeer's light in my painting", I heard "impossible, Vermeer is too good, he's from another planet..." Fuck these guys, we don't have to limit our ambition before trying.
    Honesty and ambition are much useful than humbelness in art. A few ex.
    1- when Michel-Ange started to paint the Sixtine, he closed the chapel to everyone, even the pope Jules II ! He didn't want any opinion on his work.
    2- when (by chance) Titian receive his first important order (a religious painting showing the assumption of Marie), he was 26 and thought he could do better than his glorious elders, by adding an unexpected expressivity in the scene. The painting took many months to be accepted, though it was a masterpiece. In a way, he said "fuck the world and the other artists"
    3- same thing for Rembrandt and his first "anatomical lesson of Dr Tulp", painted when he was 26.
    4- When Picasso painted his "demoiselle d'Avignon", he was about to suicide (fuck the world, again...). He showed the result to a close friend, who said "mediocre painting, better find someting else."

    All these artist admires some of their peers, use to look around them, and take crits, BUT they were ambitious, no humble, able to say sometimes "go to hell, I know what I'm doing"

    This was my little word about the question. (sorry for my bad english)

    Bye
    ____________

    = W A N D E R E R =
    C O M I C B O O K A R T I S T

    ++ FLESH AND FOAM ++

  10. #9
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    As for critics, they are problematic because most of the time the only c+c you can honestly give that will help someone is "work harder", or perhaps "work on your gesture". I try to crit when i see someone does something right but overlooks certain points, which happens to the best of us. Then they can take that advice or leave it.

    In the last instance, the only one who knows what you're doing is you. If you don't like someones advice, as an artist it's your duty not to take it, because they can never know the way you work if they are not exceptional artists that have worked for years. I've had a teacher tell me to "work more lightly." Those three words helped me lots. He pointed out where i wasn't paying enough attention as well, and that was good. But many times i've heard someone tell me to work this way or that, and had i accepted their advice i'd have screwed up even more. They didn't know what i was attempting to do, and they were not far enough down the road to know how to really help.

    It's another thing to stay humble around your peers. That's what really gives me a hard time. Because i know they know as much about the world as i do, and their opinions are as valid as mine. It's so hard not to cut them short. It's hard not to brag about the big dreams and plans i have. I know everybody has them, but because of the thing i do my whole world seems to made up off dreams and ideas. Bragging only gives me the satisfaction of claiming a good i don't own, and sell my buddies short for no tangible reason. But then, without those ideals and plans, without those daydreams and projects, i'm not an artist. Those are what i put onto paper at the end of the day.

    Some of my friends are musicians, they face the same problems. We're not part of the same world as those who learn a job they'll stay in ten years or possibly all of their life. It's just so easy to argue about lifestyles, opinions or tastes. Sometimes there's just no way to avoid it arguing about music or art when you (think that you) know more about it than about most other things in life. Most of the time i try just to keep my mouth shut. Often enough, i can't help it.

  11. #10
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    A lot of profound opinions. I'm not sure one more will help, but...

    Like many other encounters in life, this one can be smoothed with the proper use of language. While it’s easy to tell someone to crit like a rabid hound, so many times, especially in person, the recipient will shut down on the first lash application and you’re wasting your time and theirs (and now they think you’re an ass). Not everyone, but many.

    If you can take the “I” and “you” out of it, it will help to depersonalize the process and if the person is very sensitive, express the crit as a feeling. For example, “It feels like the drawing sucks like a lamprey… right about here. And here. But mostly here and here.” It’s a little less aggressive than, “I don’t think your drawing is very good.” If just a little bit of what you’re saying makes it through, you haven’t wasted your time. The slow blade penetrates the shield.

    I think it’s easy to stay humble as there are so many fantastic artists out there. Just look at JoshuatheJames. Many folks think he’s a tad… forward, but he’s been pigging out at Marko’s pie shop ever since the end of last month; ala mode and everything.

    As far as giving opinions, posting on this site implies a request and in life, I would really only crit if asked or if I was compelled and the person was amenable.

  12. #11
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    I agree with dogfood for most part. Try to keep the critique as non-personal as possible. Although there are times I prefer to use "I think" or "may I suggest" rather than point out "this drawing needs more work on this part", especially if I'm not entirely sure if the disformation is a result of a style or flaw, or if I'm not really the expert in that field. I'd rather let them know it's my opinion and not to take it too personally if they do not agree.

    I also agree that it's probably better to only give critique when the artist ask for it. I know the feeling of frustration, when you worked on the piece for a few days, you've repainted a few areas so many times and yet you still fail to get it right. At that point, you just feel like giving up. Then someone came and point out all the flaws which you already know, but you just don't know how to fix them, and that's really irritating. And it just irritates you more when you know the other people simply doing it out of good will and you just don't feel like to accept it. It's better to give the artist a pat on the shoulder when they are in this phase, and better to tell them how to fix it in a very specific way rather than generalize the problem. (i.e. better to give red-line than tell them you need to work on anatomy)

    kgb: I believe anyone can give critique, and artists should accept critique from anyone, regardless of their skill level and profession. However, that being said, expert in your field may give better suggestions as in how to improve your work than amatures. And I have to agree that sometime it's rather bothersome to hear critique from another person who's not as good as you or not even in the same field, especially when the critique is not presented in a professional way.

  13. #12
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    the best way to stay humble is to look at every artist in an art history book, and the contemporary ones working today... if you're better than all them combined, you can gloat.

  14. #13
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    Wasn't it Fonzareli in Happy Days who told Cunningham you can't be tough without taking some licks, or something like that? That said, you can't really be expected to make a valid point unless people believe that you know what you're talking about. Walk the walk, talk the talk.

    I was watching a TV segment on Paul Simon about his making of the album Graceland, and he was saying how much he learned from the African musicians to an extent that he had to toss out quite a bit of his own understanding of what making music was all about. It's easy to be humble when there are others as good or better than you are in your midst.

    -David

  15. #14
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    Considering that it isn't called the World Wide Web (as in the www. before most site addresses...) for nothing, if you don't want crits, then don't post your stuff for the whole world to look at, plain and simple.

    Opinions are like assholes, everybody has one, but some stink worse than others. If you post your art on an art forum, people are going to form opinions about what they see. The less inhibited amongst us are going to post those same opinions. Don't want 'em? Then don't provide us with fodder. Go upload your lens flare masterpiece over at Elfwood, of DA, or Wet Canvas, or any of a hundred other ass-kissing sites, where everything is OMG! ROXORZ! You Rule!!! The opinions you receive may be good, or they may stink, but if you play "looky what I made!", you're gonna get them. It's the way that Forums, and the Web in general, work...

    On the same subject, if you feel that your opinion regarding a work is worthy of your comment, for god's sake grow enough of a set of cojones to post a proper crit! The lamers who can only post trite, hackneyed crap like "Draw more from life" over and over again, with absolutely NO clarification as to where this overly vague piece of sage advice is to be applied to a work (WHY? Arms too short? Head too small for the body? Joints not realistic? WHAT?!?) provide NO real useful advice to anyone, and end up being about as helpful as a sign over a staircase saying "step up." If "draw more from Life" is the best help you can give, and you can't even be specific about why you say it, go ahead and save the bandwidth.

    As for the generic "perhaps blah-blah-blah," instead of "I think," unless you have enough professional experience (as in making money at it) under your belt, or are a licensed instructor, it is pretentious and phony to try to pass your opinion off as cast in stone by the general populace. I try to point out the things that I see, which, based upon my education, experience, and personal tastes, stand out when I view a piece. Is my opinion valuable? Maybe. IF the artist is struggling with a piece, unable to see what's "wrong," but recognizing that something is not right, what I point out as working or not working to my eye as an anonymous viewer may help provide some insight to the artist. IF the artist is simply posting a work for ass-pats, and instead garners a less-than-glowing crit, maybe a small dose of "get over yourself" will be beneficial, but if not, at least the reality check will remind them that this IS the Internet, and it CAN be a somewhat harsh place. But regardless, I state my opinion as mine. I don't hide it behind generic nudges, although I will try to politely point out areas of contention that I see. Criticism should be "non-personal" regarding the artist, not the art. How can anyone critique something in a non-personal way, when all they are doing is expounding on their own opinion? That's about as personal as you can get, giving YOUR opinion. Just don't critique the artist, his/her upbringing, family, intelligence, or personal taste. Some artists LIKE their people with longer than average torsos. As long as the rest of the body is proportional, and the figure fits with the environment, that's fine. But when one arm is longer and fatter than the other, and the head is 1/3 too small, a good crit will point that out, and an honest critic will preface it with an "I think," or an "I feel," to acknowledge that the opinion they express is theirs, and not necessarily the rest of the world's.

    This brings us around again to the "humbleness" of the artist. Artists should NEVER be humble, although they should be reasonable. You cannot truly create art unless you do so freely. Humbleness is (as defined by Mirriam-Webster)
    1 : not proud or haughty : not arrogant or assertive
    2 : reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission <a humble apology>
    3 a : ranking low in a hierarchy or scale: INSIGNIFICANT
    How on earth can you create something awe inspiring, breathtaking, fascinating, or magnificent if you are not assertive, or are deferential or submissive, or if you view yourself or your work as insignificant? Why do you even bother creating then? Reasonability, on the other hand, allows you to step back from your artistic ego and appreciate the viewpoints of others, whether you agree with them or not, and enables you to actually apply some of the opinions and suggestions you are given regarding your shortcomings and strengths displayed in the works you share with the world. If your fragile little ego is either too dense, or too lacking in self-esteem to accept viewpoints that might not agree with yours, then you should not be posting your works on a public, world wide Forum, period. Hide them in your closet, and stroke them gently when you are alone in the dark, because they are your only real friends...

    And, if you post your works with the arrogant attitude that you are perfect, your works are perfect, and there is nothing anyone can tell you otherwise, you will certainly gain little in the way of artistic respect or friends, as crap work will remain crap work, but you will never learn to recognize or prevent it, and even if you do have some talent, your lack of reasonability (not humbleness) will preclude you from ever attaining recognition of your skills, because why praise someone who already thinks they are at the top of the heap?

    The Web cannot properly convey body language, intonation, facial expression, or anything else beyond the written word. How you choose to read it is an individual thing, which is why IM slang and abbreviations tend to make the poster seem less intelligent, because unless you are paying by the letter to post, full spellings and semi-decent grammar are the way of communication, not quickie messages. People who read your lack of effort in clear communications will either judge you as either
    1. A fool too lazy to put some effort into communicating, or
    2. A mentally challenged individual unable to comprehend how to clearly communicate. Both of which may reflect unfavorably on your artistic efforts when presented to the same audience.
    To be reduced to tears or tantrums over a negative crit that is not insulting, but that specifically points out areas needing improvement (besides just "draw more from life," or "your anatomy needs work"), is even sadder than posting 15 minute scribbles and then expecting raving reviews. This is not to say you won't get them, some people love absolutely everything people post on the web. But such "Looky!" posts don't help you as an artist, because you are not presenting your skills at their best. It's okay to not be as good as many of the greats on this, and other forums. It's NOT okay to try and pass off old works (anything older than 3 months) or doodles done in school (when you should have been paying attention) as something worthy of praise. That's being unreasonable...
    Change is Inevitable, Growth is Optional
    I am The Choosen One!
    Jason sez: Draw more from Life!


  16. #15
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    I don't crit much for 3 reasons.

    1. Artist asking for crit is doesn't have anything critworthy coz he/she has just started out and is still trying to figure things out....so even if you do crit, you'll confuse them more. So I usually bring out books or direct them to find books to improve on basics before I say anything.

    2. Artist doesn't have anything critworthy coz he/she is more experienced than I and therefore I wouldn't consider it a crit, rather a sharing of knowledge. Like I'd point out inconsistencies and so on and would leave the composition, colors, designs as is coz they know what they want to achieve and I'm just there to help them nitpick.

    3. I find it hard to crit on the forum. There is only so many times you can say "good job, go read this anatomy book and observe from life" in one day. But if its person to person its easier to talk things through.

    I try to be tactful and choose the right words. But I can also be blunt and kurt. Sometimes it depends on the person on the recieving end of it. You can choose to "share" your points of view...or deliver it from your "superior" point of view.
    ********************************
    There are 3 sides to every story. Yours, mine and THE TRUTH.

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    I believe it's hard to take critisizism when you're young because your only point of reference is grade school, where critisizism is more about ego and domination then it is about helping or correcting.

    Basically, you have to discard critisizism as a form of demeaning, and interpet it as a way of understanding and seeing thru another person's experiences.

    I think most artists that are young, that are good, come off as arrogant because it's probably the only thing they do well and they had to go thru alot of hard knocks to gain that ability........grade school is not the best place to learn to be an artist.....taunts like fag and pussy come to mind. Well, I grew up in a school that was around a military base, so the emphasis was more on being athletic then it was artistic.

    Art is a time consuming rigor. You can't be good without investing alot of time into it....so some things might fall by the waste side.....like sports. And in grade school, sports means everything for boys.

    I took Surf PE 3 years straight. I knew I wasn't going to be a Michael Jordan, and I'm too big to be a pro surfer.

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    Hey everyone thank you for replying so far. Madster, thanks a lot for the lengthy post, you along with everyone else made very good points. The reason why I'm singling you out is because it gave me a kick in the ass about certain things I do on these forums. One of them is, I dont post enough studies all they are is sketches, that i probably didn't spend enough time on. I gotta work at it more.

    i guess to keep this post going i got to ask another question relevent to the issues... but, i can't really think of one... Just so you guys know this thread isnt just about my questions ask some of your own that your curious about...
    "One needs a certain humility to learn, arrogance never does good." Chiseledrocks.com article

  19. #18
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    Go to the Finally Finished section and start clicking on the threads. I usually get humble realllly quick.

  20. #19
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    I've read pretty much stuff here that makes loads of sense. Things that I've never even thought of, so thanks ppl.
    Most of the time I don't get near as much crits as I would like, meaning irl, so when I finaly get the crit I've so been waiting for I get upset and defensiv about my work. And after awhile I start to think about what that person really said and, well the only thing I've learned is where all the faults are, but most of them I already knew were they where, but didn't know how to fix.
    the thing I need is for them to tell me how to fix them. They forget the best crit of the all, the constructiv crit. That's what, atleast I, need at the time when I'm trying to learn new things.

    And about getting humble, it's really hard not to get I the finished section.
    I've tried not to be humble with my class mates. Only got to hear dumb comments in respons, it didn't really make it worth giving them a good crit Their loss I say. Good crits are always worth listening to.

    Thanks ppl, I'm off criting

    Hugs!
    Last edited by P E N Ricklund; May 18th, 2005 at 04:47 PM.

  21. #20
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    How to stay humble?

    Everytime you finish a picture, look for perfection, that tiny slice of heaven that says this could not possibly improved. If you can see it then your eyes are not open.
    [][][][] DRAW EVERYDAY [][][][]>

  22. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by otherside
    How to stay humble?

    Everytime you finish a picture, look for perfection, that tiny slice of heaven that says this could not possibly improved. If you can see it then your eyes are not open.
    That's going in my random quote script on my site.

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