Constructive Critique

8 min read

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realitysquared's avatar

Can you handle it?

I don't actually know if I've ever spoken about my opinion on the state of the constructive critique around here within recent memory, or indeed if I have ever spoken about it at all publicly.

I'm in a position here to see a lot of reaction from people, both in giving and receiving what is commonly labeled "critique"

Sadly, a vast bulk of it amounts to little more than vapid congratulatory comments plastered over everything from crudely drawn scribbles to jaw-dropping professional artwork and the mind numbing sameness of it seems to have an affect on some people.

I actually saw an image the other day which simultaneously demonstrates two distinct but related versions of this exact affect;

Now the first version of the mild altering affect of vapid, meaningless, constant praise it that someone out there just suddenly snaps and decides that since so much mindless praise is heaped upon every single submissions regardless of how crudely it may have been rendered  that it simply must be their destiny to be The One Who Gives Brutally Honest Critiques.

Of course we, the lesser bystanders, cannot understand this Duty they must preform and because of our lesser station and lesser understanding of their Destiny we of course mistake their Brutally Honest Critique as a campaign of deliberately insulting amateur artists; we should be forgiven for failing to understand how calling somebody's crude Sonic the Hedgehog fan art "garbage" and how telling them to throw their art supplies under the next bus is actually a Service To Mankind.

Seriously though it is amazing how many times I've seen a blatant campaign to insult "bad artwork" passed off as "critiquing".

Now the other reaction which is cultivated by a steady diet of mindless praise, which is equally ridiculous, are those people who cannot actually accept a piece of valid constructive feedback.

Someone who gently suggests that your anime character's head is the size and shape of a misshapen grapefruit, that you should try drawing the breasts smaller than a pair of volkswagons, or that you might actually want to familiarize yourself with human anatomy and muscle structure and maybe practice a hell of a lot more is not harassing you.

I swear if I see one more valid opinion or piece of constructive criticism called "harassment" I'll have to stick my arm through the Internet and smack somebody.

Yes; it's your Art and you obviously have a huge amount of personal feelings invested in it and nobody likes it when somebody tells you that you just aren't very good but at least try to realize that maybe it's true, maybe just a little bit?

Now I know neither of these situations happen all the time, but I really wish they wouldn't happen at all.

On the one hand we have people who just lose it and decide to attack people and on the other hand we have people who collapse into whineybabies the moment somebody tells them they could use some more practice.

Granted, we have precious few people who are actually qualified to give an actual Advanced Critique but we have a ton of people who are qualified to render a valid opinion or give useful advice or even just a simple idea or suggestion; I just wish more of you would actually do it.

Now, I should be the last one to talk because I really can't remember the last time I actually left a comment, let alone an actual opinion or critique on anything around here but I really think that the ability to leave a comment and effect someone's course and development as an artist, and to be able to receive that comment, is a vastly underused resource around here.

I understand that maybe some of you don't want to hurt the feelings of an artist by being more honest, or that maybe you don't feel qualified to speak, or even maybe that you don't know any better.

I'm a big advocate for stating your honest opinion; not everything is fantastic or great or phenomenal. The fact is that a lot of stuff that is submitted here is just average or even below average and you don't do anybody any good by suggesting that an 'average' piece cannot be improved. I think it's okay to actually say, "To hell with your feelings, this character has major anatomical problems and NO I am not going to excuse them as 'Your Style'".

For you people who don't think you are "Qualified", that is a lame excuse. Everybody is qualified to offer an opinion or a suggestion. It doesn't matter if you can comment on the technical aspects of the finer points of the anatomy of the common sparrow or quote quantum physics while sipping tea, the fact of the matter is that you are perfectly capable of saying what you like, what you done like, and even suggesting something that you'd like to see next time from an artist.

Hell, you could just take the time to point out the best parts for that matter. I mean, exactly what does "Great Job" really do as feedback anyway? How about 'Nothing'?

Don't be afraid to be the one person who stands out from the sycophantic crowd who are busy commenting while on cruise control.

You people who "don't know any better", I don't think I can help you.

I suspect that you've fallen completely into the trap of commenting just to comment, and I doubt you are actually seeing the artwork. Oh, you're certainly looking at it, but it's probably more like the way you look at a billboard by the side of the road when you're traveling at highway speeds. Out of the corner of your eye. At night. In the fog.

Maybe we should all take a week to look at the way we look at the Art around here, at the way we offer our feedback and even if we are offering anything in the first place. Do those cats up there represent you when you leave or read some feedback?

You have the ability to critique, guide, advise, suggest and spark entire new ideas just by saying something with a little thought invested in it. Are you wasting it?

I've said it before numerous time and I'll close with the same statement;

Stagnation kills; an artist who isn't moving forward is essentially dead.

© 2008 - 2024 realitysquared
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RegnoArt's avatar
This is pretty true, more people need to read this :)