Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login

Featured in Collections

Journals by OrcaOwl

Text by chibitracydoodles

More from DeviantArt


Submitted on
March 24, 2012
Submitted with


193 (who?)
This statement is, to be blunt, incredibly stupid. I see it repeated around DevianART and, as bad as it is hearing it from the general public, I have to laugh uproarously when I see it coming from an artist. I usually try to be more diplomatic, but sometimes my inner Snape just can't be contained.  

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.


Commissions are closed
Add a Comment:
KalineReine Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yes, I agree completely. :nod:
CrypticMachine Featured By Owner Edited Aug 16, 2014  Student General Artist
I am not sure if I agree with this 100%...I don't know where you are getting at and i did read the whole thing. I admit I did get far on my own.Sometimes I need some people to look at my work and tell me what they think..

I can only get so far on my own.I need a fresh pair of eyes.Accepting criticism is important to me.I wouldn't have known what was wrong with my anatomy.

I agree though studying hard and looking at references through trial and error can help.I am my worst critic but,I would at least hear what people have to say.
hibbary Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2014  Professional General Artist
I'm not saying it isn't good to have artists and other people to help you look at your work from a different perspective. It's VERY good. But a lot of people have made up this really strict narrative that you HAVE to, and you really don't. 
CrypticMachine Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2014  Student General Artist
Ah, I see.Now I get what you mean now.I honestly didn't get it at first.I misinterpreted somethings,but thanks for clearing that up. I can see what you mean about hard work though it's very important.
TotallyDeviantLisa Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Let this be a lesson to all of us.
rujiidragon Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2013  Student General Artist
I don't think its a problem of not accepting criticism, its a problem of "getting" criticism.
elmenora Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2012  Student General Artist
The reasoning behind the "accept criticism or never improve" statement is, it seems, to get people to look critically at their own work. If you can accept criticism from others, it means you can accept the idea that you have things to work on... and will then start looking for things to improve all on your own. Criticism doesn't necessarily come only from the outside. The frantic search for someone to give feedback comes in the gap between not accepting any advice and trusting your own eye.

IDK, what really bugs me is when people who ought to be giving criticism (teachers, classmates, etc) don't. I don't expect help from online - especially DA - but if teachers don't give feedback why take a class? Might as well study at home.
Falcolf Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2012  Professional Filmographer
Hear hear Hibbary! :)
anotalenthack Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2012
Accepting criticism doesn't necessarily mean bowing to it.

Yes, an artist MUST be able to accept criticism in order to improve. But sometimes that means ignoring it-- or even better, defying it. :)

An artist's sensitivity is the stuff of legend-- after all, they need such sensitivity in order to create.
Nominus-Expers Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2012
"Be a human, not a parrot." Very good advice.

Something that bothers me about critique is that it's unusual to find someone who is both willing and able to give accurate and constructive criticism. Very few people ever critique my work and find something at fault that I'm not aware of, and among those who have, two individuals stand out. One person never gives me any advice other than that my work "needs more polish", and the other person went over my entire FA gallery and ripped me to shreds; I lost my creative drive for weeks. It was emotionally devastating, and I'm not even sure why anymore, but as a result of all the useless and negative feedback I've gotten I don't usually invite it at all.

It's also worth noting that many people these days don't seem to be all that capable of critical thinking. It's not a skill that's emphasized in the public school system as far as my limited recollection of my education goes, but it's so important, I can't stress it enough. And all you have to do to think critically is apply one maxim to your everyday life: question everything. The key to productive self-appraisal and thus growth is to question whether you're really happy with your work, and to change things if the answer is no; at least, that's what I find. Experimenting is vital. Mistakes are vital. Neither, however, is any good if you can't learn from them.
I hope any of that makes sense x3
Add a Comment: