"Dealing with Criticism of Your Artwork" by Jennifer Lueders, M.F.A.
Updated: Jun 13
During your art career, has anyone ever discouraged you with words of negative feedback? This happens to most professional artists at some point and can have upsetting consequences. However, if you listen carefully to what is being said and how it is being said, you might gain tremendous insight into your own artwork and how to improve it.
The phenomenon of artistic criticism happens for a variety of reasons and can have both good and bad results. Your perception of yourself, your life, and your artistic calling, determines how you accept or reject the criticism that you receive.
The first question that you must ask yourself when receiving any type of feedback is does the person giving it possess credibility? Do they possess a higher education in the field of art, or do they work as an art professor, or an art critic? Are these critics merely an overzealous art lover who enjoys offering criticism without having much knowledge of what really goes into a piece of artwork? Has this person ever had any actual success as a working artist? While an art education can be wonderful and open doors that lead to future job opportunities, having hands on experience as a successful artist can be just as valid, if not more so. Having said that, a self taught artist could have just as much value and lengthy art making experience as does someone that is highly educated. You might have to look at each critic on an individual basis and decide if what they are sharing makes sense to you. So, basically ask yourself is this person offering something of value, what is their experience, do they have a teaching degree, or have they had a lot of success in their artist endeavors, whether they have degrees or not?
Secondly, is the person who is offering the feedback speaking from a sincere and honest perspective? Constructive criticism can be both good and bad. When criticism is bad it is often offered in a rude and unproductive manner This should cause you to wonder if the person is jealous or, simply a negative person who has very little good to say about anything. To offer benefit of the doubt, maybe they are just having a bad day. I will never forget displaying my monotype prints at a local collage. I was told flat out that my art sucked and then the student spat all over it. While, I hope that you do not have to endure this form of feedback, it taught me two things. It taught me how to respond calmly to sincere and honest feedback, even if I disagreed with the critic. It also taught me that art can be subjective. That student's individual taste meant that he did not care for my artwork, however several others offered constructive and positive feedback. I didn't waste my time defending my artwork, I did listen to what he said, and took my prints home to clean and forgot all about the nay sayer by the next day.
Wholesome feedback results in growth and change. Clarity, new ideas, informed artistic feedback, and the ability to think more critically are among the benefits of constructive criticism. Constructive criticism can also be termed as positive feedback. An artist can grow tremendously from positive feedback.
Everyone will experience constructive criticism at some point in their art career. The point is, is this criticism positive or negative? Only you get to decide what to do about it and how you react or respond to it. I find it wise to say "Thank you for your input. I'll give what you say some thought." Then walk away and decide whether the criticism offered is worth thinking about.
In the end, you are the deciding factor on how you process any criticism. You can let it help you grow or you can become downhearted. Remember to be truly successful in your calling, you must stewart your artistic gift. Part of stewarding your artistic gift is deciding to thrive in spite of whatever kind of criticism you receive. Ready your pencil, paintbrush, or pen and get creating!
If you would like me to review your artwork/portfolio, please feel free to message me for scheduling a date and time. Reduced rates for students and military/vets. What are my qualifications? Good question! I have two art degrees and many years teaching and exhibiting my artwork.