Would you like a compliment sandwich?

For years I edited newspaper articles. Some reporters were more open to constructive criticism than others. I thought it was a personality thing until my own work came under review. Yeeeouch! Needless to say, I like my criticism served sugar-coated.

When Bryon Wilkins sent me his first sketch of my avatar, he said this: “Either you’ll like it or hate it. I’m pretty thick skinned, so don’t hesitate to say what you think; good or bad.”

Brave man. I liked it, so it was all good.

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Today’s question for the comment contest is this: Do you enjoy having your art critiqued? If yes, would you rather it be done by peers or an expert? Is your skin thick like Byron’s, or do you need your ego coddled a little like me?

Answer in the comments and have a chance to win Poser Pro, Manga Studio EX or Anime Studio Pro. We’re giving away a copy every day this week (starting last Friday)!


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35 thoughts on “Would you like a compliment sandwich?

  1. I don’t mind having my art critiqued by anyone…the critique helps me perfect my craft; however, it also depends on how that critique is delivered. If someone came along and did it with such a juvenile & unprofessional attitude…I would dismiss it.

  2. Compliments, who doesn’t love them! I like to have my work critiqued, preferably by my friends who can coddle my ego! Sometimes though I want a serious expert, smash my ego with a hammer opinion to put me in my place and make me rethink what I think I know. Those are the critics that send me back to the drawing board to relearn, rethink, restudy. Usually something fabulous comes from it and I’m thankful even though my ego has been smashed to bits! After all critics are what keep me striving to make something better and keep searching for the perfect program to make it happen. =)

  3. I write and cartoon, (though not a lot lately). And I have to say:
    Enjoy a critique? nnnnNot so much. ;o)
    But it’s *necessary*. You can’t turn out good work in a vacuum and you can’t grow as an artist without feedback.

    I think you need a 2-to1 ratio (at least) of peer/pro to civilian. The pro can look at it with a practiced eye, while the civilian won’t care about your homage to Bloom County, but WILL know whether they like it or not. (Never seek out an “expert.” Always look for the working professional, BTW. The pro may also be an “expert.” But will never label themselves as such.)

    My skin is somewhat thick, but can still be pierced by an ignorant jab. A well-thought-out review/critique can be hard to hear sometimes, but shouldn’t bruise you unnecessarily.

    (And if it matters for the drawing, I keep hearing good things about Manga Studio — from Byron, for one! And I’d love to try it. C’mon Lady Luck!!)

  4. It really depends on the feedback rather than the person who gives it. Some critiques (and that includes professional reviews) really just say: “I’d rather read/watch/hear something else entirely, and this book/movie/CD is bad for not delivering that!” On the other hand, I’ve shown my comics to peers who weren’t very familiar with comics. Often, they couldn’t really phrase what bugged them, but if you know what you’re looking for in their feedbacks you can find valuable insights despite that, sometimes even because of that.

    I read all the reviews I get carefully, but, well, critically: Do the reviewers “get” what I’m trying to do or just compare my stuff to an image of what they think I should be doing instead? If it’s the latter, the review usually won’t be any good no matter how positive or negative it is. If it’s the former, they may contain some valuable pointers for me to improve my work – again, no matter if it’s a friendly review or a negative one.

  5. Geez, sometimes I’d like ANY reaction. Sometimes I’ll facebook something I’ve done and much of the time there’ll be no comments about it. I figure it either really sucks or it’s so impressive, my creation leaves people speechless. :)

  6. Not sure exactly. I’m working on figuring that one out…still working out some of the bugs in the system!

  7. I don’t mid having my art critiqued. But I’d rather have it done from a pro. Meaning they know how to give professional advice, even if the art is good or bad. Most of the time when I ask my peers what they think of my art, I feel like they don’t want to say anything negative so they don’t hurt my feelings. Kind of like showing your art work to your parents when you were a kid. It was going up on the refrigerator no matter what it looked like.

  8. I see critique as something necessary rather than something enjoyable — my skin isn’t that thick! I have no preference between peers or experts. My preference is that it be criticized by someone who can offer more than “I like it” or “I don’t like it” as feedback, and someone who has specific suggestions or ideas to try.

  9. Critiques always hurt but are a necessary part of improving your skill base. I use to take it to heart pretty hard in my 20’s and 30’s but now I just see it as the fastest way to make myself better at what I love to do. I think you just have to remember to balance the criticism with what you really are trying to accomplish in the long run.

    I do think a little sugar is always nice.

  10. I prefer constructive criticism, but I am the sensitive type and it is so much easier to digest of I am also told something I did well. However, I don’t care for piling on the compliments. I know there is ALWAYS something I could improve upon.

  11. I always consider people’s ‘critique’ to be one of an opinionated nature, so whether or not I agree with what they’re saying I can always just say to myself “That’s what they think”. As for who I prefer it from, I find that most friends will just say things along the lines of “ooh that’s pretty smashing innit” without offering any suggestions that you could work on. However, I’ve also met a few pro’s who were so far up their own buttocks that they look like a human-hula-hoop (and I do mean just a few) who seem to get a kick out of saying everything you’ve done is utterly wrong. I’m sure even Da Vinci had guys like that about him.
    Overall I’d say if I was after constructive views and hints on how I could get better I’d prefer to ask a pro, but one who’s not a complete and utter “There We Are Then”. Otherwise if I only really want a bit of praise, I’d ask a mate.

  12. I don’t like it when person tell me I suck and I should give up and I don’t trust people who tell me they like my drawings without giving a reason why.

    I am taking an unusual path to learning how to draw and it can look wrong to a non-artist or a realist. I draw from form rather then from reference and it can lead to some weird poses.

    Go to Dungeon Legacy and see for yourself.

  13. Over the years my thoughts on critiques have gone back and forth. Unfortunately there are critiques that are less then helpful if they are purely subjective. These days for me it’s more about pleasing individual editors so it goes with the territory. I suppose I have grown a thicker skin and gotten used to them

  14. I welcome everyone’s opinion – the price for that is they have to welcome mine in return. Honestly though – I’ve had my work critiqued in print, sometimes beneficently and sometimes brutally. Thick skin goes a long way – for both the kind comments, and the other kind. Best remedy – be working on your next project already. That way, you’re more invested in the work that comes after the one being critiqued.

  15. I would love more constructive criticism of my work. Being almost entirely self taught and learning through trial and error any ‘critique’ is welcome but I get a lots of “Oh that’s lovely” when all I can see is mistakes and faults. Mind you having something you have worked hard at torn apart by someone who thinks they know better can be pretty soul destroying too.

  16. My recent works have all been personal for my own enjoyment and understanding as I am exploring new creative styles and techniques. I have participated in art events when we critiqued each other and I have been fine with it.

  17. I don’t mind people who critiques my work as long as there is a lesson in it, and I prefer getting critiques from experts since they went through what we have went through. They know what to say to us to make us improve our art. Getting critiques from peers are different because they do not exactly how it works and usually they go to with critiques such as “oh I love what you did with the hair”, etc.. unless they are very knowledgeable on what we are doing I would like to get critiques from them , but sometimes the truth hurts and we have to admit it. If we want to learn we must lose our pride and let others come in the picture to help us. We cannot learn alone we will always need somebody.

  18. There will always be criticism when working in the arts. It comes from within and from others. It helps me grow and get better as an artist. I want the criticism fast and dirty, whether good of bad. I too agree with Nicholas. When I have experienced a negative critique, I try to focus on the project at hand and use the “advice/criticism” to push the work forward. Not everyone will see your vision nor appreciate the time invested in the piece. Everything is a learning.

  19. Give it to me straight, I can take it. Also it helps if you get advice on what to improve.

  20. I think we need criticism but I don’t always like it ;)

    “Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing” – Aristotle

  21. I’m medium skinned, so stupid comments by peers who obvious have no idea what they are talking about will be ignored.
    I have nothing against constructive critism by experts, but please sugar-coated served. If friends critize me, it’s another thing – they don’t need to sugar-coat. Sometimes I hear on the crits, and rework images, but only if I wasn’t satiesfied with the image before. If I like it the outcome and someone critize it, I may friendly reply that I wanted it the way it is.

  22. Getting critiques for my art is just part of the job for me – it’s highly necessary for my craft and I accepted that.

    However, I would prefer the critiques be done by experts or peers in my industry – although the average Joe’s feedback could be valuable when you’re creating art for the masses. I’m not exactly a thick-skinned person, but I do not mind sharp critiques as long as they have are informational and/or constructive.

  23. I would love a lot of critiques on my art, especially constructive ones, but I don’t seem to get that a lot. Often times I get “that’s beautiful!” or something of the sort without anything specific like, “the color choice is pretty good” or “I love how you did the eyes” or such. Those kinds of compliments are nice, but it’s a good thing to know what I did well so that next time I draw I know what to keep conscious of. It works well for people who say “the face looks a little weird” or “the anatomy is wrong here and here” too, because then it tells me where specifically I need to practice! Though, most of the time I get friends and strangers who simply comment on my work the lazy way without telling me much else. A good artist friend of mine said that “compliments are good for the ego, but not the art”, and it has stuck with me for a long time. So if I were to get critiques, I’d want it from experts, professionals, and strangers who know their thing, not just strangers who glance at it for a moment and then move on. While they may give short compliments that I appreciate because they actually DID look at my work, concrit and the like tell me they actually took the time to look CLOSELY at it.

    Though compliments would be nice. Hehe.

    I wrote a whole article about my feelings about art comments and inspiration for a school publication, you can check out everything on the publication’s website, and my article specifically is this PDF called “Everything Is Anything”.

  24. Oh – to have my ego coddled would totally rock!! My kids just laugh at me (not even bothering to pretend to be laughing at my artwork) :D

    Don’t have the confidence to have someone look at my work yet, but will jump soon!

  25. Critiques! It’s all about the critiques for me – if I didn’t want people to point out what needs fixing in my art (or writing or whatever), I certainly wouldn’t post it on the internet. I’m actually not a fan of compliments at all – my ego certainly does not need boosting and I’m well aware that all of my work has flaws. Anatomical flaws especially.

    I’d prefer to have my art critiqued by experts, but that rarely happens in my fields of study. So mostly I just join forums populated by other artist types and ask for critique from my peers – usually they’re far, far better than I am anyway.

    Interestingly enough, though, I can’t critique art to save my life. Writing, ohhhh yeah I can tear writing to shreds in a million different ways, but a random drawing? Other than pointing out the obvious, I’m pretty useless.

  26. Yeah, I don’t mind getting my art critiqued as long as it helps me improve, and getting encouragement helps too!

  27. Great question! I love receiving feedback whether it gives a boost to my ego, or it knocks the wind out of me. The latter always hurts, but get back up and learn from it all. Sometimes sugarcoating is necessary, but other times, you just need straight to the point advice. Most importantly, don’t ask people for feedback that don’t know what they’re talking about. If they give it to you, take it with a grain of salt.

  28. I’m probably my own biggest critic. I don’t like showing people a piece of work I know is flawed (To a point, I mean, it’s hard to make things perfect.) but on the other hand I know it’s often MORE painful to wait until you have something you think is great only to find out that everyone finds some things really wrong with it.

    Either way, it’s necessary. May not do your ego any good, but if all you have to rely on is your own judgment, you won’t learn anything.

    Of course, I can’t draw worth anything to begin with, but I think the same applies to pretty much everything. :)

  29. I am my own worst critic. I have a semi-thick skin, but sometimes like being coddled. If you don’t network, finding folks willing to comment is like looking for a needle in a proverbial haystack. Getting my ego stroked is good, but it won’t improve my work and that’s my ultimate goal. What I don’t like is when people don’t give a well thought out critique. “Looks nice.” “Cool” & “Good work” does nothing to help me. In depth critiques are always best & if my ego gets bruised, I can get over it.

  30. I prefer an honest critique to being coddled, however I do want that critique to come from someone who actually has the skills and qualifications that make their input valuable. The biggest flaw I find on peer based art sites is that many folks take out their frustrations and jealousies rather than offering a constructive critique. But then, I have a self imposed policy of seldom participating in groups/ threads or activities that are supposed to be peer based critique vehicles, in part because of my previous observation and in part because I don’t believe I am qualified to offer critique to others. If I can’t either tell someone how or show someone how (or at the very least point them to a tutorial) and I can’t produce better results myself, then I’m not interested in tearing apart anyone elses work or in having my own torn apart.

  31. I think having a good detailed critique can be invaluable. Having another angle on a particular piece can give you new ideas and keep the creativity flowing. Finding people who are good at being critiques, though, can be difficult. More often than not, people will just give vague comments that don’t help the artist at all. Telling someone, “That’s awesome!” or “That sucks!”, doesn’t really offer something helpful.