I actually have the same issue as you do; I have a hard time giving out negativity in my critiques. Dunno if it's because I don't like hurting people's feelings, or because the person hates any type of negative comment on their work.
I don't like being negative with feedback, but I have a magic trick. If I'm specifically asked to critique something (as opposed to prowling around the critique enabled pieces, randomly choosing something to disassemble) then somehow I feel absolved of all guilt or apprehension when I have anything critical to say. Maybe it helps me to convince myself that my insight is actually wanted. Also, I try to apply the venerable golden rule when commenting, avoiding indiscriminately trashing something and steering away from criticizing the artist instead of the art - which is a finer line than some might think.
Speaking of the shift in attitudes, do you mean that being more critical of an artist's work will help acclimate said artist to what it will be like in the cold, cruel publishing world? Are you suggesting some should serve as a drill sergeant to aspiring artists, a la full metal jacket? Because, I can tell you that in that scenario, I'm going to be private Pyle.
EvilDoctorHobbitFeatured By OwnerDec 4, 2012Hobbyist Photographer
I'm an actor, but I think I can still answer this question (since I've basically played around with everything else ). For me personally, I prefer feedback (positive or negative) over no reactions whatsoever. When somebody tells me that I'm not doing something right, whether it's nice, rude, or non-constructive, it still helps me because it gives me another opportunity to improve what I'm doing or grow in some way (even if it's just people skills!)
Of course, initially the criticism stings. It is hard to hear something bad about yourself or your art- especially when it's something you've worked on for a long time (whether it's a monologue, or a story, or a picture). However, I think as an artist, it's important to be able to handle and take all forms of critique - and if there's nothing constructive about it whatsoever, you need to to just let it go and not hang on to it.
To be a critic, however, is another art on its own. You don't want to be the person who only says 'this is bad', but gives nothing constructive. It actually shows a lack in your knowledge. If you know how to fix the problem, tell them. If you don't, admit it but just point out that the problem should be looked at. In my opinion, you can never be too hard on growing artists.
On the other hand, don't tackle obviously new writers (artist, actors) with material and knowledge only the pros have. Everything is learned in steps- as a critic, you have to understand where the person is at (beginner, moderate, etc) and meet them where they are at.
I don't understand the last question, so I won't answer.
I don't critique negatively unless I really know the person and I'm sure they won't get mad at me. I've written very long, very polite opinions and analysis-es (how to english) and got really disappointing reactions so I only critique if I think it's worth my time, ie. the person on the receiving end will view my effort as useful instead of questioning the social background and mating habits of my mother.
Yeah fully empty galleries are "...ooo-kay". I do actually read a lot of books and even write novels but not in english, and I tend to mix up some words or just use awkward/out of context phrases which miiiight make me seem ...weird? I don't think I'll ever try to write seriously in english though. Hungarian is the best
I think we tend to be nicer with new writers, but actually MORE vigilant for defects in their work. Kind of like how when you go to a new restaurant, you are very sensitive to the taste, smell, and look of what you order, but when you to someplace you frequent often you don't pay much attention unless it's really bad.
That's an interesting notion. I always thought we're more likely to nitpick when we can't find any big-picture things to criticize, in part because it's also easier to see small mistakes when not much else is wrong.
Maybe I'm thinking too much in terms of visual art. When I go through my good friend's art, I usually don't scan it for minute defects. Perhaps it is more jarring in writing because when we take in written works it is much like a train, with one piece of information attached to the ones before and after it, while a picture is more like high way with multiple lanes, each with its own distinct flow of information.
Possibly. Also, maybe some influences of formal training? I spent half my life analysing every single word of books, and a good few years doing the equivalent to art. It's easier for me to ignore mistakes on the first glance at art, but by the third look I'll start picking stuff up.
Agreed on the train metaphor, though. Writing is analysed more linearly than art.
As long as I can point out why and give some sort of constructive criticism as well, I can use some amount of negativity. But I get a little soft too, mostly because I don't want to upset anybody. So I guess that makes my critiques sightly dishonest.
But I kind of think that is okay, I'd rather inspire someone to improve than make them hate their own work. Advice is good, but if it's too negatively formulated, it rarely helps much, it just puts people down. If I can get my point across without being mean, then I'd rather do that and be a little dishonest.
As someone else said sandwich theory is great because critique shouldn't just be "this needs fixing that needs fixing" but also "this works really well keep that".
I myself am much more self conscious about my writing than my art. Art you can rip to shreds and I'll probably just keep going anyway but my writing is more.. if you crit it I'll probably just cry and go"I know.. I'm shit... now you just confirmed it".
Thankfully most of my writing is for comic work so I can just dazzle with Art masking my writing. XD I was so nervous before releasing my comic because so much hinged on my story but I'm getting more confident. I think just not having people be mean helps.. I had various people in the past be mean. And not the critique harsh truth mean the "you're just shit" mean.
Where critiquing is concerned I first try to work out what the person wants, then help them get it. When someone wants to be a pro and make money you can have different points than if someone just wants to draw a nice little cartoon between 2 of their characters. Same in writing or anything really.
I know if someone wants to make a beautiful drawing I can help them make that within the realms of their current skillset. There's no point in me harping on about multiple light sources and colour temperature when you have a newer artist who is having issues just getting one colour to work for them. It's just a bit douchey. Instead I settle for something that they can work for right now, and add to their skillset, such as one light source or some colour theory, before tackling more complex ideas.
As for my self consciousness simply doing my comic and having people like it is nice. Makes you feel like your ideas do matter. As I tend to write for art related things part of my writing/storytelling is knowing what drawing to put where. I find it difficult to write proper prose because I would rather draw the story, and for a long time I tried to keep forcing myself to write prose or 'proper' writing (or so I thought) but now I realise I can write a story with pictures better than I can write with words alone, which is fine by me.
My general key to coping with any critique is understanding that no matter what people say about my work, I don't have to listen to it if the critique and what I want from my work doesn't line up.
Yeah, for sure. My starting assumption for anyone who enables critique was that they wanted to be the best writer ever, but I've met a couple of people who were doing it to be even bigger attention whores. So. Well.
Right? I usually tell the kids to try a reference or suggest contour drawing if it's the lines they're having issues with.
Not everyone needs to have every skill set, woo!
Exactly. Although if the critiquer is trying, I make sure I at least respect what they've said. (And remember the work != me.)
As a recipient I try to see where the critiquer is coming from. Then I assess if that point of view is something that would be useful to me.
Such as towards my art someone might say "I think your idea would look better with more realism" to which I would look at it, and go "would the idea look better? what do they mean by that? Is it useful? Is it what I want?" I don't just go "you're a moron" and leave them hanging XD
The hardest thing for me is when I come across someone who says they want a critique or an honest opinion but they don't. Them I usually leave a lone. My critical assessment is "not ready for Pyro" XD
You tell by critiquing anyway. You got some writing/critiquing practice out of it if nothing else.
I critiqued this artist once, she was really good but I saw a really obvious flaw, fairly popular too. She was doing ink drawings but cross hatched everything including the face, which made the face look like beardy and such when it should have been a woman.
So I pointed it out and moved on.
6 months later I get a reply. The artist said something along the lines of, "I was so angry and upset when you critiqued me because I want to cross hatch everything I like it. But then every time I started drawing your words popped into my head about texture and trying different ink marks. And now my inking is so much better even though I hated you for months but now I'm thanking you."
In my experience the critique that made me angriest has been most helpful because it stuck a chord and wouldn't go away even though I loathed the critiquer for a while.
I'm very much a fan of the "sandwich method" ~angelicpersona suggests. Try to start with something positive, then point out problems and suggest things to change, and most importantly finish with something else positive. You know how people sometimes get a critique and think they're being trolled? Sure, they could probably do with growing a thicker skin, but the whole fiasco could be avoided if people just took the time to mention that certain elements of the work are good and that the comment shouldn't be taken to mean that they're a terrible writer.
That's a very good point. I kind of feel like most people who actually wanted to fix something would notice the meat in the sandwich, but it doesn't do to sugar coat things to the point that they're not clear any more.
...this metaphor is getting weird. Weird, and a little bit mixed.
I tend to have trouble giving critique on pieces where I don't know how to say anything EXCEPT negatives. Recently, I made a go of it on someone's piece, and apparently managed not to sound like a complete dick while saying, "Look, everything about this piece needs to be improved, and there's nothing I would keep that is currently here except maybe the topic. And even that needs to be better..."
I give the person I critiqued credit for taking it in stride.
So I suppose: I'm good with being negative, but to a point. If I feel like I can't say anything positive, I'm not sure what to do.
Not gonna lie, some of it is just that SO MUCH of the can't-say-anything-good-about-it-lit I encounter seems like it could use almost exactly the same critique, and that idea is just exhausting, and makes me want to stay home in my pajamas, watch old Star Trek TNG episodes, drink lots of tea, and pretend the world doesn't exist.
Yeah, same here! I end up commending people on their enthusiasm when really I'm kind of thinking 'oh god why,' but it makes the rest look better. Also if they're a new writer I end up leaving it big picture or give them a couple of points to focus on first. You can't get universally better overall right away...right?
I ended up making a basics of poetry writing tutorial (in which I am ashamed to say I used the word "enjambment" wrong and I need to go back and fix it....) SPECIFICALLY for all those poems I could critique that essentially need the same critique (aka, your imagery is crap, you've sacrificed diction for rhyming, your rhythm is inconsistent, poetry doesn't HAVE to rhyme to be poetry, you've used virtually no imagery at all, this is so cliche I'm going to scratch my eyes out, etc.), but it feels kinda tacky for me to link that many people to it. I end up worrying they're going to think it's just me trying to promote my own stuff...