If you find yourself around an artist and they share there work with you please show them the respect that we all deserve. The creation of art is a very courageous, emotional, spiritual and psychological labor. When commenting about someone’s work keep in mind, that work is most often a part of the person who created it and to a great extent represents that person in some way. Now I’m not saying that constructive criticism is not important and needed, I myself find it very helpful. It is common in art courses to have group critiques of everyones work and there are rules that are followed. These rules make sure that the critique is constructive and most importantly not destructive. Since many have never been involved in one of these or have forgotten the rules, here are some guidelines when speaking to someone about there work.
Always remember that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Don’t make sweeping statements like those colors should never be together, the composition is all wrong, the proportions are not right, or no one is going to buy work like that. Statements like this do not help anyone and after tall there are truly no rules for creating art. There are guidelines, but artist accidentally and purposefully bend or even break these guidelines all the time. Some of the great innovators did just that and now there work represents great artistic movements such as surrealism and Dadaism.
Ask the artist about there intent. If you understand their intent you can now speak to them with that in mind. Perhaps they used some seemingly conflicting colors to make a point or strayed from proportional guidelines to express something in particular.
A term you hear in management often these days is a compliment sandwich. Start with something you like, insert a constructive criticism and end with something else you like. Such as; I really like the colors you choose for this, perhaps the composition could be a bit stronger but the piece shows off your skills with texture.
Don’t speak in unequivocal terms like; it is, you should never. Use words like I think, I feel. After all there really is nothing unequivocal about art anyways and using unequivocal terms only shows you are ignorant to that fact. Art is an expression and no one has the final word.
Ok so you’re asking, why should I pussy foot around about what I think about someone’s work? Well I guess it’s up to you, but try to keep in mind just how would you feel, and remember that it takes a lot of guts for an artist to put their work out there and thereby them selves out there also. It makes no sense to crush someone when you can help lift them up. Who knows; you may be stomping down the next great artist or you could be a part of helping lift up the next great artist.
Finally I would like to share with you that as an artist many damaging although often well intentioned things have been said to me over the years by friends family and yes even art instructors. As with many artist when I sit down at that drawing table staring at that blank white piece of paper working up inspiration from deep inside my soul the stupid negative crap from others crept in and has many times blocked me and left me frozen. Creating is so emotional and extra baggage never helps.
PS. For all you artist out there who find them selves over analyzing your work because of words from the past. Keep going, the process of creation is a beautiful thing and just doing it will help clear out the garbage. Always remember there are no rules, only guidelines that you choose to follow or not to follow. Well there is one rule always follow your gut and be free. Maybe that’s two.