Here is the reality of the situation. A person who is building a set of skills can improve without feedback of any kind. Through trial and error, a human being can identify their own mistakes and, with honest work, rectify those mistakes. To say that this is not possible is so counter to reality as to be absurd. I could give thousands of examples but I'll just say this: if it were not for an individual's ability to invent skills from within themselves we would have absolutely no skills to pass on to other people.
Is this a good reason to reject any kind of negative criticism or criticism in general? Does this mean that criticism is useless? Absolutely not. This idea is equally stupid, and while an individual has every right not to listen to criticism, they are giving themselves a big and unecessary handicap. If artistic improvement is the goal, taking in any information, including the input of others, is a very very good idea. It will help the artist get much further much faster than if they worked only out of their own head. An artist might make a mistake a hundred times before they finally catch on whereas an observer will spot it and point it out immediately, sparing the artist many hours and much harrass. Having others giving advice saves an artist from having to reinvent the wheel over and over again. This is super valuable.
What actually handicaps an artist the most is avoiding hard work. A person who studies on their own can improve, but only if they approach their own work honestly, see their own mistakes, and fix them. When an artist flounders and does not improve, it is often because they are lazy or frightened of appearing inept and prefer to pretend the mistakes don't exist. It is because they are not studying on their own and not making a serious effort. Yes, this cowardly approach to making artwork often coincides with rejecting and overreacting to criticism, but it is not the rejecting of criticism that causes them not to improve. (I'd like to insert a little caveat to say that there are some situations where a person is earnestly trying to improve but just doesn't know where to go next and it is not because they are willfully avoiding learning. In this case, an instructor, or at least a good book, is very useful. I'd like also to say, because there was some confusion in the purpose of my statement, that those people who choose not to improve simply because they do not want to or because they do art as a hobby are not being cowardly.)
On the other hand, those artists who DO accept criticism and utilize it are usually already working hard. The criticism is supplemental, not the sole driving force improving their work.
The danger of tricking artists, especially new artists, into believing that they absolutely need criticism and nothing else is that they spend all of their time hunting (often fruitlessly) for feedback instead of actually working on their art or learning to be serious and critical about their own art. They sometimes become so tied up in what everyone else is telling them that they are eventually divorced from their own artwork until they lose all interest. I have seen a lot of younger artists who have been made positively helpless by the idea that they will improve only through criticism, unable to move forward until someone else tells them what to do, and it's always incredibly sad. MOST of an artist's time should be spent working very hard, doing serious research, listening and responding to the inner critic. After that, criticism and comments from others is a very helpful bonus that should never be ignored.
I have no problem with people telling artists to learn to accept and use criticism. This is good. Keep it up. But for heaven's sakes, approach the problem with reality in mind.
tl;dr: Think more critically about those threadbare statements that drift around DeviantART and consider the impact of passing on something that is obviously untrue. Be a human; not a parrot.
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