By Ellen 'the Alaskan' Million.
Giving critical reviews can be more frustrating than getting them. You just don't know what to say, you don't know how much is enough advice, you don't know where the line between style and inaccuracy is, and it may seem like every time you try to be helpful, the advice you give is interpreted incorrectly. This is a comprehensive solution to those problems; an all-users guide to giving out the dirt without burying the artist (or writer, in all cases).
What to Say?
The first problem you may have is that you simply don't know where to begin. Maybe you're not an artist, maybe you don't have that perfect witty remark, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't say anything! Leaving even a short comment, or even a criticism, usually makes an artists day.
One good recipe for comments is to find one specific positive point, one specific helpful or critical point, and finish it off with a general feeling about the picture. Example: 'Her hair is really lovely, though I think her hand is a bit small. There's a very peaceful feeling about this picture.' This gives the artist a wealth of input, letting him know a strong point, a part that needs work, and an idea of whether or not they got their overall message across.
If you just don't feel comfortable about pointing out weaknesses, stick with the strong points. Find specific things about the piece that just 'work.' If you are familiar with the artist's work, find things that are unique about this particular piece that you like. Or mention that you love the way she does all of her feet. It can be as helpful to an artist to know what elements of her art are successful as it is to know which elements simply don't work.
Being 'mean' nicely
Your mother's advice still stands: if you can't think of something nice to say, don't say anything. That doesn't mean that you can't point out weaknesses or be critical, but it does mean that you don't have to be cruel to do so.
The 'mood' parts of a comment are the beginning and the end. The beginning sets the tone for the review, and the end is the feeling that the artist goes away with. If you begin a review with a positive comment, and end it with a positive feeling, you can generally cram a lot of advice in the middle without hurting an artist's feelings.
Don't make ultimatums. 'You need to...' is a lot different that 'I think you should...' Adding a little extra bit that makes it clear that it's your opinion will make a huge difference in how the review comes across to the artist. Adding phrases like 'I think,' 'I would,' or 'What if' will keep you from sounding conceited or demanding.
Don't make things personal by such statements as 'You can't shade well.' Refer to the picture itself, saying instead, 'the shading here could use work' or 'this picture needs more shading.'
Helpful pointers are even better than just telling them what's wrong. Saying 'that leg is wrong' is not as useful as saying 'I think that leg is too thin, you can make it thicker without making it look too muscle-y by doing such and so.' The artist you're commenting on will probably be very grateful for the tutelage.
What Not to Say
'Cool!' While positive, also pretty useless in terms of helping the artist improve.
'This sucks.' How does it suck? What can the artist do to improve it?
'Kawaii!' Avoid using slang or words in other languages that the artist may not understand. (Kawaii, incidentally, means 'cute,' but remember that because a word is commonplace in your own vocabulary, it doesn't mean your audience will understand it!)
'I'm going to cry now, you're so good.' Or any 'you make me feel bad about myself' stuff. Your loss of self-confidence (however exaggerated) doesn't do you or the artist any good at all.
Anything with 'u r' or cutesy spelling, including z's at the end of things. Any of this will lower your professionalism in the artist's eyes, often to the level where they may dismiss your ideas as invalid, even though you may have something valuable to offer.
A string of '!!!' or '...' or any other nonsense characters may not have the same meaning to the artist as it has to you. While :) and other characters are fairly widely understood on the Internet, there are plenty of obscure symbols that should be avoided.
Avoid 'sheep' mentality. If seven other people have commented about something, a 'me too' comment is not going to be helpful. Find something new to comment on.
The artist probably doesn't want a long-winded recital about your aunt's dog's chew-toy just because it happens to be the same color as their picture's background. Before you start your comment, ask yourself what you are trying to say, and how it will help the artist.
Note that adding an email or your gallery link will improve the likelihood that the artist will take your comment seriously. Anonymity is often a cloak for someone who doesn't want to take credit for something, and if you don't credit your own opinion, why should they?
Recognizing Style and Opinion
Everyone has a preconceived notion of what an elf or a dragon is supposed to look like. It is difficult to set aside the picture that you may have in your head and judge a picture on its own basis. It is important to recognize the difference between a flaw in a picture, and simply an opposing opinion as to what it should be.
If you're not sure whether your input is a style issue, just say so. A preface like, 'this may be a style issue, but...' will allow the artist, who knows more about what they were trying to accomplish than you do, to judge for themselves, and it will be clear that you aren't trying to dictate their vision.
Taylor Criticism to the Artist
Not every artist is looking for the same thing. Some of them desire very detailed criticism, some of them want suggestions for completing a piece, some of them are looking for praise, and only want positive input. Sometimes, you can figure out what an artist is looking for by reading their picture description. Sometimes it is only detailed in the bio. Sometimes it's not mentioned anywhere, and it's up to you as the commenter to decide how specific, how detailed and how positive you wish to be. It is usually a safe bet to mention just a few key things.
If an artist specifically mentions wanting advice on a particular aspect, make an effort to accommodate them. This doesn't mean you shouldn't comment on other things, or that you always have to stay on that single topic.
As you begin your comment, ask yourself what you're trying to accomplish. If you are trying to help the artist improve, supply helpful comments. If you're trying to boost an artist's self-esteem, provide insight to the positive aspects of their work, and tell them specifically what you like. If you're trying to interpret their work, let them know what you see in it. If you're trying to elevate your own self-esteem by flattening theirs, ask yourself why and deal with your problems yourself. If you're responding to a personal attack, step back, and take your complaints to a more appropriate place (like a private message to the offending party).
Before you post your comment, read it. Does it say what you want it to? Could it be read to say something different? Can it be clearer? Your first draft doesn't have to be the final draft. Your comment will be left for everyone to see (pending an artist taking offense and removing it). It is your calling card, and the quality of your comment reflects directly upon yourself.
Discuss this article at the Woodworks Forum or leave your comment below.
FARP Article Guestbook
|28 Oct 2010|| Lorie Deveaux|
|17 Aug 2011|| David Gr|
I think this is really good advice. I particularly like your "Closing Opinions". To me you could use this for just about any criticism on the web or elsewhere. Using this advice, you make your point without being ugly, i.e. nasty, rude, ill mannered, etc. Would you mind if I posted the "Closing Opinions" my Facebook page?
|17 Aug 2011|| David Gr|
Don’t you mean "Tailor Criticism" instead of "Taylor Criticism"? I bet you put in there to see who would catch it.
|4 Nov 2011|| Anon.|
As a studio artists I understand that very element of artistic license you are speaking of... Perhaps ’critique, ’rather than criticism, would more aptly communicate what you are advocating. In offering a critique of a piece a dialog of questions and feedback as to how the style, materials, tools, and techniques communicate the artist’s core concepts, all geared toward helping the artist to find his or her ’voice’.
|4 Nov 2011|| Anon.|
Oops! That sentence should have read as follows:
In offering a critique of a piece [we begin] a dialog of questions and feedback as to how the style, materials, tools, and techniques communicate the artist’s core concepts, all [this is] geared toward helping the artist to find his or her ’voice’.
Since I don’t recall the name and mail I signed up under I’ll have to put my name here...
|1 Dec 2011|| American Plumbing|
Your post is highly informative. I appreciate your efforts.
<a href="http://www.tamiamiplumbing.net/">plumber Tamiami</a><br />
<a href="http://www.happywaukeganplumbing.com/">Waukegan Plumbing</a><br />
|1 Dec 2011|| American Plumbing|
Nice post.Thanks for sharing.
|26 Mar 2012|| Linshuang linshuang|
wholesale shoes clothing and fashion handbags
[url=http://www.efashiongucci.com]louis vuitton shoes[/url]
[url=http://www.echicclothing.com]cheap louis vuitton clothing[/url]
|21 Jun 2012|| Zibing zibing zibing|
<p>Needless to say, the latest styles of <a href="http://www.replica-raybansunglasses3025.com/">Replica Ray Ban sunglasses</a>, and so far are the classic "yurt" so far is the place in the forefront to become the enduring style of the sunglasses market. Of course, <a href="http://www.replica-raybansunglasses3025.com/">Ray Ban sunglasses 3025</a> are not just look good, its function as the leader in the sunglasses brand. <a href="http://www.replica-raybansunglasses3025.com/">Ray Ban sunglasses sale</a>, the English called the Ray-Ban, Ray as the glare of Ban that is blocking it one hundred percent blocking harmful UV rays and glare become a consumer favorite sunglasses brand. Glare refers to the field of vision due to the unsuitable luminance distribution or extreme brightness and contrast, and hence resulting in visual discomfort and visual conditions to reduce the visibility of objects in space or time. Glare is the important one of the reasons that leads to visual fatigue. </p>
|11 May 2013|| Dsgds|
http://www.coachsoutletonline-usa.net/ coach outlet online coach outlet
http://www.scoachoutletonline.com/ coach outlet usa coach outlet online usa
http://www.newmichaelkorpurses.com/ michael kors purses outlet online
http://www.mk-michaelkoroutlet.net/ michael kors outlet online
http://www.guccishoesoutletsfactory.net/ gucci shoes outlet online
http://www.northfaceeoutletonline.net/ north face jackets outlet online
http://www.monsteroheadphone.net/ monster beats outlet online
http://www.coachstoresonline2013.net/ coach outlet online
http://northfacesalee-uk.webs.com/ north face jackets outlet online North Face Jackets UK
http://mcoachoutlet.tumblr.com/ cheap coach purses coach purses outlet
http://thenorthfacesale-uk.webs.com/ North Face Sale North Face UK
|Page:  2 |
Back to the FARP main page.
The collection of art and writing tutorials in the Elfwood Fantasy Art Resource (F.A.R.P.) is a part of Elfwood.
The FARP logo was created by Miguel Krippahl (The muscular guy in the FARP-logo) and Thomas F Abrahamsson (The text and general graphic design). Those sections written by volunteers are copyrighted to Thomas Abrahamsson and the respective writer. Elfwood is a project once founded by Thomas Abrahamsson.
All rights reserved. Unauthorized Reproduction of the graphics, writings, and materials on these pages is absolutely prohibited! You may consider all material on these pages protected and copyrighted, unless otherwise noted. You may NOT use the images found at the FARP or Elfwood pages on your home pages! All of these images are copyright protected! Everything you see here represent the collaborative effort of the Elfwood community and Thomas Abrahamsson. Please read the Legal Disclaimer for more info on warranties/etc for these pages!