If you don't accept criticism, you won't improve

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hibbary's avatar
This statement is, to be blunt, incredibly stupid. I see it repeated around DevianART and, as bad as it is hearing it from the general public, I have to laugh uproarously when I see it coming from an artist. I usually try to be more diplomatic, but sometimes my inner Snape just can't be contained.  

Here is the reality of the situation. A person who is building a set of skills can improve without feedback of any kind. Through trial and error, a human being can identify their own mistakes and, with honest work, rectify those mistakes. To say that this is not possible is so counter to reality as to be absurd. I could give thousands of examples but I'll just say this:  if it were not for an individual's ability to invent skills from within themselves we would have absolutely no skills to pass on to other people.

Is this a good reason to reject any kind of negative criticism or criticism in general? Does this mean that criticism is useless? Absolutely not. This idea is equally stupid, and while an individual has every right not to listen to criticism, they are giving themselves a big and unecessary handicap. If artistic improvement is the goal, taking in any information, including the input of others, is a very very good idea. It will help the artist get much further much faster than if they worked only out of their own head.  An artist might make a mistake a hundred times before they finally catch on whereas an observer will spot it and point it out immediately,  sparing the artist many hours and much harrass. Having others giving advice saves an artist from having to reinvent the wheel over and over again. This is super valuable.

What actually handicaps an artist the most is avoiding hard work. A person who studies on their own can improve, but only if they approach their own work honestly, see their own mistakes, and fix them. When an artist flounders and does not improve, it is often because they are lazy or frightened of appearing inept and prefer to pretend the mistakes don't exist. It is because they are not studying on their own and not making a serious effort.  Yes, this cowardly approach to making artwork often coincides with rejecting and overreacting to criticism, but it is not the rejecting of criticism that causes them not to improve.  (I'd like to insert a little caveat to say that there are some situations where a person is earnestly trying to improve but just doesn't know where to go next and it is not because they are willfully avoiding learning. In this case, an instructor, or at least a good book, is very useful. I'd like also to say, because there was some confusion in the purpose of my statement, that those people who choose not to improve simply because they do not want to or because they do art as a hobby are not being cowardly.)

On the other hand, those artists who DO accept criticism and utilize it are usually already working hard. The criticism is supplemental, not the sole driving force improving their work.

The danger of tricking artists, especially new artists, into believing that they absolutely need criticism and nothing else is that they spend all of their time hunting (often fruitlessly) for feedback instead of actually working on their art or learning to be serious and critical about their own art. They sometimes become so tied up in what everyone else is telling them that they are eventually divorced from their own artwork until they lose all interest. I have seen a lot of younger artists who have been made positively helpless by the idea that they will improve only through criticism, unable to move forward until someone else tells them what to do, and it's always incredibly sad.  MOST of an artist's time should be spent working very hard, doing serious research, listening and responding to the inner critic. After that, criticism and comments from others is a very helpful bonus that should never be ignored.

I have no problem with people telling artists to learn to accept and use criticism. This is good. Keep it up. But for heaven's sakes, approach the problem with reality in mind.

tl;dr: Think more critically about those threadbare statements that drift around DeviantART and consider the impact of passing on something that is obviously untrue. Be a human; not a parrot.


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DawnFelix's avatar
If you idiots do not want criticism, then do not post anything online and leave the comment section open. So stop acting so self-righteous about it and takes responsibility. Everything you post on the Internet becomes public domain, so if you people do not want any criticism, then disable the comment section or do not post anything. rlly? plz

Blocking people over trivial reason it will only show how sensitive and immature and insecure you people are. If you people can't deal with other people on the Internet, then I can't imagine how you going to deal with other people in real life. Seriously Tempest
LarioLario54321's avatar
But I Don't Want to Except Criticism; Because I Don't WANT to Improve; I like my stuff just the way they are!!! Why Should I Care what people like it or don't; It's not THEIRS to Like!
WarpingMysteries's avatar
If you're experienced enough, all the mistakes are seen without anyone telling you. It's always peoples subjective opinion, almost none of them even understand how to draw. And in today's broad internet space you can find all the tutorials, look at all art styles, improve as much as you want.

Understanding what you did wrong and what you did right is the basics of self improvement, no people needed for it. Everyone nowadays calls themselves and artist just because they can fluff a few lines on the paper. It's a title that you earn through your life, and only a few can achieve it.
TheBlueSonata's avatar
This is actually quite true. Artists improve in their own unique ways. They can improve through positive interactions over the course of 4 or 5 years (i.e. me) with very little criticism.

In fact, I went from having very poor digital art skills to beyond "what-the-heck-am-i-doing?" Because I taught myself to get better at digital art. Traditional art is the same thing for me. I'm sure it's different for everyone here, but when I took my first art class...
I hated it. I couldn't improve on the skills I already have. We were stuck doing... backgrounds? Human faces? I just overall disliked it. Some self-taught artists don't mind, but I was in there doodling what I wanted instead. It's supposed to be an art class for art. I was being taught skills I didn't want because I won't use them.

I think I'm done here. Sorry ^^;
JNerd300's avatar
Looking back at band class I used to be scared of critism because one of the students said my sound on my flute was terrible. I became very insecure and...ugh but that all change when I went to a graphics class. My Graphics teacher helped me realized that critism is meant to help improve your work. She helped me out along with my classmates. Anyone reading this don't be afraid of Critism like I was!
T04RK's avatar

I'm literally on dA for the purpose of getting critiques. Yet a lot of times, people feel scared to give any out due to the fear that I might attack them like a lot of beginner artists would.
xCJDrawsx's avatar
The only bad criticism is where the critic says only "this is bad" or variations of that without explaining what the error(s) was/were.
Zoroku's avatar
Agreed! That is one thing that annoyed me. -.-
SassySnivy's avatar
God. Yes, please.

There are two extremes.

Artists typically (TYPICALLY) hinder themselves by not taking criticism of others.
However, the artist is 100% NOT OBLIGED TO TAKE YOUR CRITICISM. I get even more pissed off at the people who get all uppity and butthurt the moment someone disregards something.

I understand that criticism takes a lot of time and effort to pump out. Good, constructive criticism, anyway. And it's OKAY to get a little pissed at someone for disregarding it. But that is when you need to be a mature person and just walk away.

In this sense...some people out there who give criticism need to be able to take it, too. ;)
Azurewhiterose's avatar
I come back to read this from time to and what is a shame is that, Many artists don't seem to work hard enough or is just lazy. And I don't get it. I am glad this is still up because there is some things in here that I forgot about.

Thanks so much for sharing this though. It really needed to be said. I seen a lot of misinformation going around in the art world. And then there is artists who get at a certain level and just don't take art as seriously anymore, it's really sad. I think it's fine if art is just a hobby for them but, it's a bit concerning when they are selling their artwork...

In my honest opinion I think that there is always room for improvement.
Captain-Syd's avatar
I know im a few years late on this, but because it's far and few between that I see a perspective on improving without requiring feedback, I'd like to share that I don't ask for critique not because I don't like it, but because I eventually will see my mistakes.
Sometimes I need to sleep on it and look at the piece with fresh eyes and give it time until I can actually see what needs to be edited.
Another reason is perspective i feel. What I see as correct, another person might see it as wrong. Sometimes, I may see a mistake another person can't see or I can't see the mistake another person is talking about.
I feel it's a matter of how we keep an open mind to critique as well.
Azurewhiterose's avatar
:iconisayindeedplz: This is very true. I actually run into a few of the same problems myself.
KalineReine's avatar
Yes, I agree completely. :nod:
Azurewhiterose's avatar
I am not sure if I agree with this 100%...I don't know where you are getting at and i did read the whole thing. I admit I did get far on my own.Sometimes I need some people to look at my work and tell me what they think..

I can only get so far on my own.I need a fresh pair of eyes.Accepting criticism is important to me.I wouldn't have known what was wrong with my anatomy.

I agree though studying hard and looking at references through trial and error can help.I am my worst critic but,I would at least hear what people have to say.
hibbary's avatar
I'm not saying it isn't good to have artists and other people to help you look at your work from a different perspective. It's VERY good. But a lot of people have made up this really strict narrative that you HAVE to, and you really don't. 
Azurewhiterose's avatar
Ah, I see.Now I get what you mean now.I honestly didn't get it at first.I misinterpreted somethings,but thanks for clearing that up. I can see what you mean about hard work though it's very important.
TotallyDeviantLisa's avatar
Let this be a lesson to all of us.
rujiidragon's avatar
I don't think its a problem of not accepting criticism, its a problem of "getting" criticism.
elmenora's avatar
The reasoning behind the "accept criticism or never improve" statement is, it seems, to get people to look critically at their own work. If you can accept criticism from others, it means you can accept the idea that you have things to work on... and will then start looking for things to improve all on your own. Criticism doesn't necessarily come only from the outside. The frantic search for someone to give feedback comes in the gap between not accepting any advice and trusting your own eye.

IDK, what really bugs me is when people who ought to be giving criticism (teachers, classmates, etc) don't. I don't expect help from online - especially DA - but if teachers don't give feedback why take a class? Might as well study at home.
Falcolf's avatar
Hear hear Hibbary! :)
anotalenthack's avatar
Accepting criticism doesn't necessarily mean bowing to it.

Yes, an artist MUST be able to accept criticism in order to improve. But sometimes that means ignoring it-- or even better, defying it. :)

An artist's sensitivity is the stuff of legend-- after all, they need such sensitivity in order to create.
Nominus-Expers's avatar
"Be a human, not a parrot." Very good advice.

Something that bothers me about critique is that it's unusual to find someone who is both willing and able to give accurate and constructive criticism. Very few people ever critique my work and find something at fault that I'm not aware of, and among those who have, two individuals stand out. One person never gives me any advice other than that my work "needs more polish", and the other person went over my entire FA gallery and ripped me to shreds; I lost my creative drive for weeks. It was emotionally devastating, and I'm not even sure why anymore, but as a result of all the useless and negative feedback I've gotten I don't usually invite it at all.

It's also worth noting that many people these days don't seem to be all that capable of critical thinking. It's not a skill that's emphasized in the public school system as far as my limited recollection of my education goes, but it's so important, I can't stress it enough. And all you have to do to think critically is apply one maxim to your everyday life: question everything. The key to productive self-appraisal and thus growth is to question whether you're really happy with your work, and to change things if the answer is no; at least, that's what I find. Experimenting is vital. Mistakes are vital. Neither, however, is any good if you can't learn from them.
I hope any of that makes sense x3
AxisEnigma's avatar
Well, I would say constructive criticism is good, but some people are just destructive, and others misinterpret the constructive stuff
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