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Responding to Negative Feedback About Your Art

by Jason Horejs on September 4, 2013 · 72 comments

I recently had an email conversation with an artist who had just been through battle on her blog. After years of extensive blogging, she received her first negative comment, an inflammatory comment about a post she had written with some derogatory  comments about her art thrown in for good measure. The level of vitriol in the comment was a bit dumbfounding, especially since it didn’t seem to be coming from a dissatisfied customer, rather from a random visitor to the site who wouldn’t seem to have any good reason to be so  . . . blunt.

After the shock and pain wore off, they were replaced by outrage. The artist dashed off a heartfelt response, countering point by point each of the charges  in the comment. And thus began an epic battle in the comments section of her blog, with fiery comments flying back and forth over several days. I’m not going to post the comments here – I don’t wish to draw any more attention to them, but I’m sure that many of you who blog, have a website with a guest book, or participate in social media can sympathize with this situation. There’s nothing more disheartening than a brutal criticism of you or your work.

I’ve been blogging for about five years now, and I’ve certainly run into my share of negativity online. Really, this kind of behavior can happen anywhere – on a blog, one a third-party website, via email, and even in person. There are people out there who have a chip on their shoulder and like nothing more than to stir up a fight.

In the online world, this kind of person is called a “troll”, and they pop up all over the web. Rarely do they add anything of value to a conversation; they are usually composing their comments with the sole intent of stirring up an argument.

Dealing with Trolls

So what should you do if a Troll sets his sights on you? My advice, coming from experience, is to ignore them. Responding only feeds the fire. If you have control over the forum (if they’ve posted on your blog, for example) I recommend removing the post. Your website or blog is your personal and private property, not a public forum, and you should feel no obligation to give their comments an audience, especially when it comes at your expense. I go a step further and moderate comments before they are posted on the blog – allowing me to prevent any inflammatory comments from ever seeing the light of day.

Try not to dwell on anything said in the comments. It’s easy to let a negative post ruin your whole day. Don’t.

Trolling is a widespread problem on the internet – NPR recently had to change their entire commenting system to deal with the issue (read about that here).

Responding to Dissatisfied  Customers

But what if the comment or email comes from a real customer? It’s one thing to dismiss the rantings of a troll, but handling the negative feedback of an actual customer is another thing altogether. I’ve been fortunate to have very few unhappy customers over the years. We’re celebrating our 12th anniversary in business this month, and I can count on one hand the number of times that I’ve had a customer unhappy with a purchase or with the service they received. On the rare occasion where I do have to respond to a dissatisfied customer, I try to keep the following in mind:

  1. My goal is to get the customer back to a happy state – I will go to extremes to make that happen (although there are limits)
  2. I don’t argue with customers (or anyone else for that matter). I believe that as soon as an argument has started, the battle is already lost. Let’s be honest, it’s pretty rare that someone will change their views because of a persuasive argument. I prefer to take the diplomatic approach and try and find a common ground.
  3. Ignore the harsh stuff. If a client has used foul language or leveled strong criticism against you or your art, don’t feel compelled to respond to those parts of the communication. By responding in a civil, professional manner, you’ll likely calm things down, or, at the very least, you’ll feel better about the whole ordeal.
  4. Provide a liberal return/refund policy. Because returns are so rare in the gallery, I’ve found I can afford to be very liberal about my return policy. On the occasion when it needs to be invoked, I’ve found I can smooth over almost any situation by being generous in the return policy (paying for the return shipping on a piece of art, for example, as well as refunding the purchase price). There may be a cost involved in being liberal in this way, but in the long run, it’s worth it.
  5. Move any negative comments from a public forum to a private one. If you have a customer post a complaint or criticism on your blog or other public venue, try to get in touch with the customer privately – via phone or email to resolve the issue. Even though you are going to try to smooth the situation over, there’s no point in broadcasting the interactions to your other customers.

Responding to Critics in Public Forums

What if you don’t have control over the forum where a negative comment is posted? Several years ago I watched two artists battle it out on an artists group’s website. Apparently the two artists had a long-running rivalry in real life that moved into the comments section of this website. One artist would post an image of a new painting, and the other would jump into the comments and write what was wrong with it. The first artist would respond, and they were off – thousands of words flying back and forth. In the few posts I read, I felt like I should have a bag of popcorn since the comments had become so absurd that they were almost entertaining.

This is an extreme example, but you may have run into a negative comment about your work in a public forum and been unsure how to respond.

I’ve had this experience with the two books I have written selling on Amazon.com. Though both have been largely well received, if you look in the reviews you’ll see a few comments that aren’t 5-star, and a few that are downright negative (if you’re curious you can read them on Amazon.com)

Since you can’t delete the comments in a forum you don’t control, you’re going to be even more tempted to respond. Again, I would urge caution. It’s even worse to feed the fire in a public forum.

Keep the following in mind:

  1. Try not to take it personally. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and for everyone that has a negative opinion of what you’re doing, a dozen will have a positive one. 
  2. Try not to get emotional. It’s hard not to take it personally, and even harder not to let your emotions take over. The problem is that your heart is far more likely to get you into trouble than your head is. If you feel compelled to respond, I recommend waiting a day or two so that you have time to calm down. This has the added benefit of allowing your tormentor to calm down as well.
  3. Let your fans respond. Often, if you wait, your friends and fans will take care of responding for you, and it looks a lot better to have a third party responding than replying yourself. You might even alert your friends or fans to the comment via email. If you do, ask them to step up for you, but to keep it civil and avoid combat.

Responding to Critics in Person

Dealing with online negativity is hard enough, but it’s even more challenging  if the critique comes in person – say at a gallery opening or other public event. So what do you do if someone makes a derogatory comment to your face? Basically, all of the principles above apply – try not to get emotional or take it personally.  Depending on the situation, I will try to laugh it off “I’m sure glad not everyone agrees with that opinion!” or I will ask for further explanation “I’m curious about your opinion – tell my why you say that?”

No matter what the situation – online or off, remember that your critics don’t define you. Being a glass-half-full kind of guy, I like to think that each critic is helping me thicken up my skin, and for that I should be grateful, I guess . . .

Have you Been the Subject of Criticism or Negativity?

Have you ever been the recipient of negative remarks or harsh criticism? How did you respond? What have you learned about dealing with negativity? Please share your experience and thoughts in the comments below.

 

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About 

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of reddotblog.com, and founder of ARTsala. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business.

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{ 72 comments… read them below or add one }

Debra Trafton September 4, 2013 at 11:29 am

To this day, I still struggle with a comment given to me years ago in which (in the past) the person was close to me … The person made the comment that it was about time that I was going somewhere with my art … The sad thing is, at the time, many years back, I hadn’t accomplished even a fragment of where I am currently with the progression of my art. I never heard back from this once-close friend in over 7 years – now at a time when I AM emerging as an artist and have many devoted collectors of my works … Thanks for listening … Debra ;)

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Davis McGlathery September 4, 2013 at 11:31 am

Excellent advice which can be expanded to life in general, not just art!
Thanks, Jason!

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kathryn September 4, 2013 at 12:03 pm

I’ve actually never received any bad comments on my blog, FB fan page or via email. But I did learn a long time ago (because of an ex-boyfriend) NEVER to respond to harsh, hurtful emails right away. You are absolutely correct, it just adds fuel to the fire. If something should ever arise I would give it a day or two to cool down, find a new perspective and not take it personally. That I learned from Don Miguels, The Four Agreements, a must read book for everyone!!

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Steve Haas September 4, 2013 at 12:08 pm

While critiques are uncomfortable they can be quite valuable. When an artist passes into the ‘established’ stage it becomes rare to get a direct criticism. The internet is a wonderful asset when seeking information but when unsolicited information is offered I find it generally useless. Trolls, while mildly entertaining, are a waste of time.
Keep up the good work Jason!

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Dineen Serpa dba Linza September 4, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Hi Jason,
Here’s one that comes up a lot. It’s never directed at me( cause I’m not usually there to hear it– I get told about them later), other artists or even the gallery employees, but is usually overheard in a loud manner. “oh, I could do that”. Or worse: “my five year old could paint that(or better than that)”. That person is not usually an artist, almost never purchasing anything and would be mortified to have anyone actually respond. The best response is probably to ignore it, of course, but these visitors(I won’t call them customers) say these types of things loudly so other customers can hear them. How do you handle it?

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Jason Horejs September 4, 2013 at 1:16 pm

I used to have clever responses for this kind of comment – “I’d love to talk to your five year-old – here’s my card!”, I’ve tried educating, but I now just try and change the subject and move the “prospective client” on to something else. I would love to hear others’ responses on this one!

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Elizabeth September 4, 2013 at 4:28 pm

This is an issue at the largest art event in our area, Artprize. A fun, crazy three week event with over 1500 pieces of art and lots of people viewing art for the first time. Many feel they need to say something critical, even rude, to the artists who are often with their work to answer questions. But I must say, it’s toughened me up and taught me not to seek approval from strangers:) Fortunately the event is making efforts to educate the public on how to look and interact with art instead of just giving it a thumbs up or down. Funny, the schoolkids who go through the exhibit ask better questions and are more curious than the adults.

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Sallie Wolf September 5, 2013 at 8:50 am

I often sketch in public places and people look, then say nothing or something so bland as to “damn with faint praise.” I’ve had to learn to sketch for myself, not for public approval, while remaining friendly and inviting, if not encouraging conversation. What I am realizing is that most people do not know how to talk about art. It’s not in our educational system. They approach it from a “good” or “bad” judgmental point of view. So now I ignore comments from people who appear not to understand art and I encourage conversation from people who seem interested, curious, or are artists themselves. And when I teach art workshops, I work hard not to use judgmental woods like good, bad, or even beautiful. Rather I talk about what I see–the red sky, the purple grass, the interesting drips, the burst of energy from these lines. I do convey that I may like a piece with words like interesting, wonderful, great color combination, but I am focusing on specific aspects of the work, not a general blanket judgment. That kind of speaking allows for a conversation with the artist and encourages student artists to talk about what they are doing and how they feel about their work.

Sorry to be long-winded here. The gist of it is to remember that not everyone knows how to talk about art, they feel intimidated by it, and their comments come from that uncomfortable (for them) place. Whatever we can do to put them at ease and open up the art for them is a service.

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Calvin deRuyter September 4, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Whenever I hear this, and I know that it is somehow said loud enough to elicit a response, I try to use it as an educational moment. I explain that even though I am not primarily a non-objective artist, that abstract, non-objective art is, I believe, the most difficult of the genres. I explain how you can paint anything in a landscape and people recognize it as such… but to have a great non-objective work, you must actually understand and utilize all of the rules of design, and proceed to go into those rules. Often, the people who say such things have glossed over eyes by the time I get to “rules of design” and can’t wait to “move on”. Doesn’t change their minds, but it may make them stop and think before they say such an ignorant thing again, just on the outside chance that another “me” is within ear shot! SMILE

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Julie Bernstein Engelmann September 4, 2013 at 4:34 pm

As an abstract artist, sometimes the subject of the 5-year-old comes before me in sincerity, and I answer it this way: “You may be assuming that the highest quality in art is skilled labor. But actually, for many collectors, the highest quality of art is its feeling. When you are choosing a piece to live with, you may prefer a feeling of ease and freedom more than a feeling of hard work. And you know what? If you were to try it, you would find out that it takes years of hard work to make a painting look easy!”

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Alyson B. Stanfield September 4, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Yes! Ignore the trolls! I do the same with nasty emails. DELETE. I’ve learned that responding is like throwing gasoline on the fire.

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Andrea Clarkson September 4, 2013 at 1:06 pm

I enjoy reading your insightful posts. Your positive perspective on common experiences is very helpful. This post reminded of a workshop I participated in a few years ago when a fellow student, who was not very seasoned, unleashed on the 20-minute figurative oil sketches I put up for review. I was surprised the instructor allowed the tirade to go on as long as it did, because it was a little venomous. I was left speechless and bewildered. I could not see a reason to get worked up about what another person accomplishes in 20 minutes. Afterward, a few artists quietly chimed in to balance out the harsh criticism that came from left field. Fortunately, my skin was already pretty thick at that point. If I were the instructor, I would like to think I would have been more responsive.

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Jason Horejs September 4, 2013 at 1:12 pm

I have a hard time understanding the thought process of someone like this. Do they feel better about themselves by putting others down? Do they think they are somehow being helpful? I imagine the instructor was as surprised as you and didn’t know how to handle the situation. Glad you let the tirade roll away – we all know who looks like the fool in this kind of situation.

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Vanessa September 4, 2013 at 1:14 pm

I agree with all that you write Jason and Kathryn too. I also think The Four Agreements is a must read book and the idea in the book of taking nothing personally, bad or good!, is transformative. I do oversee any comments so am in control not to post anything however I have never had to do that so far (fingers crossed). On a Facebook fan page you can also delete any comments and ban any users which I have used quite extensively – not for negative comments but for the many people who just leave a comment advertising their own website and products – this gets very tiresome. There are some presets in settings to hide any post that mentions a website, however people and getting wise to this and will write “dot com” to get around it. I had one man post his website yesterday on 14 on my recent posts and images – I think this is just so rude!

Amazon are having to remove a lot of negative comments in their new art section as people are leaving negative, inappropriate remarks on Monets etc. So that just proves even more not to take anything personally!!

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Desley Rolph September 4, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Oh, this does take me back to a gallery opening I had a few years back. When I arrived early for the opening, the gallerist came up to me and whispered in my ear, “don’t worry we’ll get rid of him, I’ve called for a taxi”. Lucky there were only a couple of guests who had arrived and the room was not yet full.

An old gent was sitting in a chair and proceeded to hone in on me. Was I the artist? When I said yes, he said he saw a photo of my work advertising the show in the paper and decided to come along. He then proceeded to tell me that the light was all wrong in my paintings, especially that one, the figure is too light (well, she was supposed to be sort of suggested, ghostly). Lucky I have a thick skin and have always valued critique by people I respect. My first thoughts were, who was this guy, was he a retired lecturer perhaps or a well known artist? He then asked me where I studied, so I told him. So then, I asked him where he studied and was he a lecturer or similar. His comment, no, he was someone who likes to paint but gives all his paintings away to his relatives or friends. So, I thanked him for coming and moved away, then the taxi arrived and my gallerist helped him into the car.

Well, I did sell that ‘one’ and many others in the show at very good prices. :)

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Jason Horejs September 4, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Great story Desley – and I’m sure it made the evening even more memorable. I love how you turned the tables.

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Judith Monroe September 4, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Yes, indeed, consider the source and treat it accordingly… :)

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Jeni Bate September 4, 2013 at 5:40 pm

I think that is just the right response – to ask the critic to justify themselves and their credentials. I once had a rude critic make some comments about the way had painted some leaves on a tree – the tree was in the distance so it was ‘generic leaves’. The only part that bothered me was that it was only after he had left my booth that it occurred to me to question whether his doctorate was in art or botany.

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Diane LaRaja September 5, 2013 at 6:09 am

Sounds like that old gent was jealous!

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Donia September 4, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Sometimes it can be VERY difficult to curb the natural desire to defend oneself/one’s work, so I try my best to remember these two sayings (attributed to various people so I won’t source them):

“Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.” and…

“Never argue with an idiot – they will drag you down to their level, then beat you with experience.”

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Jason Horejs September 4, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Great quotes! Thanks Donia!

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Bud September 4, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Happened to me many times. I will just name a few for laughs.
Once in New York at an awards dinner for an art contest, I was personally insulted about my prize-winning work which appeared at a nationally traveling show. The person who won 1st prize (whoop dee doo) made a really rotten statement about my art at a large table full of artist prize winners. Later on I realized that she was just a very unhappy and hate filled angry person who couldn’t wait to try to get under someone’s skin. I kept my mouth closed (except to eat the italian food) and later saw that this “critic” had almost directly copied her “masterpiece” from a syndicated work done by a major film production company. I did not say anything .
Another time, at a separate occasion, I was at my doctor’s office. The doc happened to see a watercolor sketch I had done (n0thing fancy) and the doc said he really loved it, so I framed it and gave it to him as a gift. Another patient saw it (the doc keeps it in his office) and actually wrote a list of how I could “fix” it and told the doctor to give it to me next time I saw him.
The doctor gave me my “Painting Improvement List” and I laughed all he way home. I am serious, I laughed out loud in the car on the way home. Those occasions won’t be the last either, it is a natural part of life.
My two cents on one of the reasons people do it is because it gives them a feeling of power. I have run into similar comments at other venues.
The thing that confuses a “critic” the most is if you flash your teeth, raise the corners of your mouth and smile when you are supposed to be upset. Don’t get heated, remain calm and dignified. After all, the reflection is on them. They OWN their “criticism”. They eventually will realize that they where a bit rude. They eventually come to terms with and figure out why they acted that way on their own. I think that most of the time it is a form of jealousy because of your special gift, or talent, something that they will never have, your uniqueness of style somehow bothers them. Smile at them and let them run their mouth. Remember, every word is a “Compliment” in disguise.
b u d

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Jason Horejs September 4, 2013 at 9:15 pm

Great stories Bud, and great advice.

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Leah Fasten September 4, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Thanks so much for this post! I love it! About a year and a half ago a small e-blast (35 people) was sent out to potential clients. By mistake, we coded the first name and company field wrong in the mail merge. 35 people received an email with “Hello [First Name]“! So embarrassing. But it didn’t end there! One of the 35 people on that list runs an anonymous, fairly influential blog and posted the email on the blog explaining how bad my marketing was [in a fairly patronizing way]. Even after a nice note apologizing, she didn’t remove the post. I left it at that. I think when people openly criticize and try to humiliate other people it says way more about the critiquer than critique-ee. (and as an aside, I booked a great job after a hilarious exchange with another person who received the same botched email.)

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Jason Horejs September 4, 2013 at 6:43 pm

Ah, Leah, so embarrassing, and we’ve all been there. At the time you want to crawl under a rock, but luckily time dulls the embarrassment. Hopefully it didn’t deter you from future email marketing.

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Donna Godlove September 4, 2013 at 2:42 pm

It is hard but I smile and say that I appreciate all comments and will take his/hers seriously. If he/she continues, I will say “glad not everyone feels the same.”. I will try to walk away. If that doesn’t work, I catch the eye of a friend and introduce he/she to my friend and then walk away. I don’t response to negative email, comments public or private any other way. I’ve never had a return policy but I’ve never had anything returned. The worst one ended up being a friend. Go figure.

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Jacquie Gouveia September 4, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Yes, agreed, just ignore them. This is why I am a firm advocate that an artist needs to be comfortable in their work and know who they are as an artist. It helps let the negative comments roll off easier – of course any negative comments or energy may jolt you for a moment. But if you are sure of yourself and your work, it’s a lot easier to deal with. My skin gets thicker every year! Great post.

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Judith Monroe September 4, 2013 at 3:47 pm

As an instructor who runs critiques regularly, must say I’m sorry the one Andrea mentioned didn’t step in – I usually lay down ground rules beforehand to help students feel safe, especially since I teach a lot of beginners.

As for harsh words for my own work, I’ve learned that everyone is going to have a different opinion… That being said, I try to look first to see if the critique has merit and if it doesn’t, then I toss it out, literally or figuratively, as appropriate.

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Larry Berman September 4, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Trying to defend yourself against negative comments is a loose loose situation. No matter what you say, it calls attention to the negative post about you and you’re always coming from behind. What I’ve done in the past is make an uncompromised statement of truth ending with saying that I’m not playing this game anymore. And stop responding no matter what is said. Sine the negative comments are used to bait you, not responding causes the thread to stop dead in it’s tracts.

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Ginny Abblett September 4, 2013 at 4:05 pm

It’s always way more about the critic!! I like this… “It is not the critic who counts, but the one actually in the arena. If he or she fails – she fails while daring greatly.” paraphrased from T Roosevelt

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Mary Manning September 4, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Jason, This piece of advice is so important, whether using it in art or in life. I’ve never been attacked about my art, but had plenty of grief as a journalist, so I learned how to calm down and take it one step at a time. Thank you for posting this one.

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K. Henderson September 4, 2013 at 4:28 pm

Collectors: Yes! You must keep them happy.
Personal blogs : Moderate!
Facebook groups: I ask myself is this person important to me? 99.9% of the time the answer is “No”. So my response is usually, “Thanks for leaving a comment. It’s always interesting to hear another viewpoint”. As you said, arguing is not going to change their mind and being polite usually shuts them up.

And I’d like to add a quote that fits in with Donia’s “Never try to teach a pig to sing. It’s a waste of your time and it annoys the pig”

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julie holt September 4, 2013 at 9:49 pm

thanks jason for this post! k. henderson, i love that quote!

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Jo Castillo September 4, 2013 at 4:40 pm

I worked for the airlines many, many years ago. My boss gave me the best advice for in person complaints. Listen to the whole complaint, don’t interrupt, then offer a solution. In that situation it was rarely personal. It always worked for me. I like Donia’s quotes! Never a good idea to argue.

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Sharon Sieben September 4, 2013 at 6:03 pm

I had this happen once via an email response to a newsletter mailing. It was coming so far from left field that I had to do a double take to see if it was really aimed at me and my work. I apologized for inadvertently including her on the mailing and assured her I would remove her name. The next e-mail was a diatribe on the fact that nobody does anything “inadvertently”. Than’s when I hit the “ignore” button. Worked for me! Lots of good advice from all here

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Kristin Krimmel September 4, 2013 at 6:15 pm

Amazing that you should post this today. Over lunch, a dealer bluntly told me a series of my paintings were “simply unworthy of me” and he didn’t want to deal with them. I suspected by his preamble that some “tough truth” was coming. Therefore your article is very pertinent and timely for me.
I’ve a fairly thick skin, and I know he loves other bodies of work that I have produced, so I let it slide off my back which keeps me balanced. It’s important for me that he represents work that he loves and can be enthusiastic about. If he doesn’t like the work, he won’t have that enthusiasm, so it’s not even worth him holding on to that work. Someone else will, like me, be happy with that body of work and can deal with me personally for it.

So often, it’s just a matter of taste. Sometimes even I don’t like some of my own work! But I will keep it nonetheless as a document of a step in “how-I-got-there” for other work that succeeded to my satisfaction.
Sometimes the person looking doesn’t understand the work they are looking at. It’s easier for them to criticize the work and by extension, the artist than to find out what the artist’s intentions were or try to understand a different way of working.
In an other situation, I have a friend who is bi-polar. When she gets unbalanced, she is likely to turn on those she depends upon and she is very clever at saying very hurtful things with all the authority of her knowledge and position in the art world. When the mood swings back the other way, she doesn’t remember that she said those things. So in this case, it’s not about me the artists, it’s about her and her mood.
If we can be objective enough, we can balance our tender artist egos and continue on with the good work and not sink into a self-defeating depression.
I like your prescriptions for dealing with these situations, especially the one: just don’t respond.
I appreciate your writings very much even if I don’t leap in with comments often.

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Aïda Marini Schneider September 4, 2013 at 6:32 pm

Once during a very well known and respected art festival in Colorado, a man stormed into my booth, obviously on a mission, and started berating abstract art in general and my work in particular. As he circled the space pointing to this and that painting, hardly looking at them, I at first tried to engage him in conversation. It didn’t work because he was evidently exorcising his anti abstract art demons. He was not interested in a reasoned conversation. So I just let him get it out of his system and before long, he bolted out as precipitately as he had charged in. I don’t think he once looked at me.
Strangely, perhaps, it didn’t bother me – I knew there was nothing particularly personal about it. It had more to do with him.

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Joyce Wynes September 4, 2013 at 6:32 pm

I love your posts Jason and reading the great comments they elicit. I agree that you can’t fuel the fire because the results are always worse then ignoring the comments. It really tickled my funny bone about getting a box of popcorn and enjoying the entertainment. On my wordpress blog they give me the option to approve a comment before letting it be shown so that helps but I really haven’t experienced anything negative yet.

Since 1985 my art has always been more on the cutting edge so I developed a thick skin early in my art career especially with my family who felt all art should be old English landscapes with hunting dogs. I learned to discount most remarks unless they were constructive after reading and doing the exercises in The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. She calls these people “crazymakers” because they are the type of people who create storm centers. And if you let them they can take over your whole life especially if they are friends or family. They like drama and they create it. They are poisonous to creative work. They feed on power so any power source will do. I learned a lot from her book and go back to if every so often to retool myself. I am going to get the book by Don Miguels (thanks Kathryn for the suggestion).

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Stephen Baumbach September 4, 2013 at 6:37 pm

In the photographic world, we are constantly being challenged if the photograph is real or just Photoshopped. At first this bothered me but I came to realize that the new age of digital “film” has left the public skeptical. People like to know if what they are seeing is true and valid. When challenged now by viewers, I ask them if they like it. Most times the answer is yes and the conversation lends to technique and they can appreciate the time it took to make the photograph both in pre and post production. Answering a question with a question makes for an exchange of dialogue. I was at a round table discussion once with Annie Leibowitz and a listener commented on one of Annie’s photographs as being too saturated. Annie said the questioner was a good judge of color and that it may be. End of story. She completely disarmed the query and moved on. I asked her later about that and she said the customer is never wrong. They are our bread and butter. So what if that person went home smug in thinking they were right. It most likely made their day.

Stephen

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Suzanne Poursine Massion September 4, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Quite a few years ago, I was at my own opening night reception. 35 of my oil landscapes were exhibited for sale and the event was well attended. I knew absolutely no one and expected the organizers to formally introduce me, either to groups or make an announcement some time during the evening. Never happened. I mentioned the fact to a few of the people in charge and they simply told me not to worry. Did you ever want to be the fly on the wall and hear what art patrons really thought of your work? I had the experience that night. Mostly people were wonderful, loving my work. However, My husband and I saw a large group crowding around one of my pieces listening to a gentleman hold forth on my technique, motivation, inspiration, goals, what I was trying to achieve, etc. We were fascinated and joined the group, asking him an occasional question. It was a most unusual experience. I never embarrassed him by saying I was the artist. I just listened, making use of a rare opportunity to get a real objective reaction first hand. He liked the painting but actually had some harsh criticisms. I don’t know that this fits the “troll” experience exactly but I still remember having hurt feelings and getting over it when the painting sold later. What a sometimes crazy world this art business is. I think about that night when I have a real “troll” have at me on Facebook. Jason is right. The Henry Kissinger diplomatic reaction is best.

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Jason Horejs September 4, 2013 at 7:10 pm

Suzanne, what an interesting experience. Even though I’m sure it was strange, awkward, and perhaps a bit painful, I bet it made you more reflective about future work. Turn every experience to your profit!

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Theresa Bayer September 4, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Been known to gently remove negative feedback if it’s on my blog.
Re. dissatisfied customers, I would offer a refund, because the customer is always right.
I love ambiguity. In person I’d say, “You may have a valid point, and I’ll certainly give it all due consideration.”
When it comes to public forums, I shy away from saying anything controversial, because it is NOT WORTH the mental distraction it would cause me to engage with in a debate.

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Marshall September 4, 2013 at 7:40 pm

I have studied conflict resolution and here are a few things I have learned.

People who have been dominated in the past often act out with domination in order to feel powerful.ie the Trolls.
We become emotionally flooded with hurt or anger as we listen to their criticism and want to defend ourselves, a natural response but a bad idea.
This will lead to escalation. However if we don’t respond it leaves us feeling tense or worse.
So we do need to respond with all the fury we feel but not to the Troll but rather with a caring friend. This discharge will leave us feeling clear and better able to understand the misplacement of the Troll’s remarks.
These negative comments were about the Trolls emotional baggage and not about you.

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Rebekah Sisk September 4, 2013 at 7:49 pm

Fortunately, I’ve never had anyone say anything negative on my blog. I have had a few weird or insulting remarks on my Facebook page. I don’t mess around with insulting people, I just delete them. If they use foul language in the post, they are banned. I won’t tolerate it. Now, if someone genuinely has a serious question or statement regarding my work, then I’m happy to interact with them on a positive basis – whether they like the art or not. Just as long as the individual is civil, I’m happy to interact with them. But if they aren’t, they’re history. Life is too short to be disheartened by rude people.

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Ann Ford September 4, 2013 at 8:22 pm

Along with developing my thick skin, I have developed a mind set which is this: God gave me this talent and in this measure. If mankind can’t appreciate my ability, then I ask the rude people to pray that God will increase my measure to their expectations.
Thankfully, most of my negative comments are about my prices than my quality of work. Some people just want to barter for art as if they were at a yard sale. I won’t reduce my prices for it isn’t fair to my clients who purchase my art at my prices.
Altho negative comments regarding my art are very few over the years, they do sting and are long remembered.
Those who criticize others art often are trying to impress everyone with their vast knowledge. Something about a little knowledge is dangerous.

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Jana Botkin September 4, 2013 at 9:43 pm

One of my favorite current authors is Jon Acuff. He says we need to learn to separate the hate from the criticism: hate wants to hurt and criticism wants to help. He also addresses something he calls “Critic’s Math” which goes like this: 1000 compliments plus one insult equals one insult. Beware of Critic’s Math!

Jason, in terms of percentages, your single one-star review constitutes 2% of your comments. That is practically invisible – to that reviewer, I say, “Bite rocks, Punk.” 8-) There, see? Your friends are coming to your defense!

Seth Godin doesn’t allow comments on his blog because he said it is his living room, and strangers aren’t invited to come into his living room and insult him. I love the ability to moderate comments on a blog (also so I can fix the typos!)

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Miertje Skidmore September 4, 2013 at 10:47 pm

Several years ago,On the opening night of my exhibition I had my then 5 yo grandson holding my hand, ,sharing with me how very proud of seeing our surname up in bold letters he was,suddenly I was approached by another artist who wanted to know my exact process of achieving the details in my work.when I very politely explained a simplistic response and My belief that the final result of the work is more important than the process ,she became irate LOUD and critical as she obviously wanted to Imitate what she saw.I let her rant a bit ,thanked her for her interest in my art,then gestured around her that other people were waiting to have a chat with me.She was suddenly embarrassed by her own rudeness when she became aware of the Amazed looks on these people’s faces and slinked off to a corner with a glass of wine.My grandson commented on what a rude lady she was, and I replied these people come along to teach us how NOT to act at an art show.

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John Russell September 5, 2013 at 3:24 am

To all artists encountering negative feedback:

1. Consider the source. Is the person giving you the negative feedback a professional in the art world? Are they an art professor? A major art critic? An established artist? Or just some clown with a mouth to run who wishes to appear knowledgable? If they are the latter ignore them and move on. If their comment comes in the form of a statement on your blog, for example, then you should have your blog set to moderate comments before they appear and delete this clown’s comment immediately…don’t respond to it, because 99% of the time you will not be able to reason with such a person…and DO NOT LET IT GET TO YOU! Statements from the uninformed and artistically ignorant should not be factored into the equation of your artistic life.

But what about the criticism from a well-known art critic, art professor, or famous artist? Don’t assume that they have your best interests at heart either. Don’t equate fame with magnanimity; I know from personal experience that’s one of the worst assumptions you can make. Do listen carefully to what the knowledgable critic says, and then evaluate it from the perspective of truth. I had one art professor who supposedly gave us free reign in class as to how we would handle an assigned project, but then approached several of us with “constructive criticism” which basically amounted to “This is how I would do this, so that’s what you should consider doing.” When I pointed out to her that she had encouraged our free interpretation of the assigned project she suggested to me that my grade on the project would quite literally depend on me recreating my art into the form that she thought that it should be in, and when I refused she graded me down a full letter grade because I would not comply. (Yes, I protested to her, to no avail.) Not all criticism, not even from knowledgable people, is correct criticism.

2. Consider the content. Is the criticism vague and full of sweeping generalities, or does it contain practical advice that would actually help you to become a better artist? Ask yourself, “If I apply this bit of criticism to my work, will it help me or hinder me; inspire me or hold me back; make my work look better, the same, or worse?” Also to consider: a valid criticism that includes the suggestion to change or modify technique might be applicable to someone else who works in a different style or medium, but might not be applicable to you at all. Sometimes even the pros can look at work and not get it.

Yes, there are basic principles in art, photography, etc., that tend to make for a more enjoyable viewing experience if followed. But a slavish devotion to them will quickly lead to boring, lifeless works of art that no one will enjoy, not even the artist. And, as times change, some of those guiding principles will change too…artistic styles and movements go in and out of popularity, but good art will stand the test of time and the winds of whimsical artistic change.

3. Stay true to your vision. If you have an original style that really cranks your bait, don’t change it just because you receive criticism. If you are 100% sure of yourself and the reasons for which you paint or draw or sculpt, etc., in a certain manner and the results delight you, don’t change! You may or may not become a commercial success, but you will be true to yourself in producing your vision, and your work will be authentic. I may not like someone’s work, but I can tell instantly if they’ve produced it with 100% belief and commitment to themselves and the body of work.

Also, remember: no less an artistic luminary than Monet himself was harshly criticized; from the Metropolitan Art’s web site: “…one of Monet’s contributions to this exhibition, drew particular scorn for the unfinished appearance of its loose handling and indistinct forms. Yet the artists saw the criticism as a badge of honor, and subsequently called themselves “Impressionists” after the painting’s title, even though the name was first used derisively.”

Other criticism of the Impressionists, including Monet, was that their paintings were nothing more than the detritus from cleaning their old paint brushes on canvas. Ouch! :) Develop a thick skin, artists!

4. Reflect on your successes. Whenever your critics attempt to get you down remember your track record. Think of the sales you’ve made, and the positive comments from people who love your work. More than one person who has purchased my art has made this comment to me, and believe me, this has kept me going: “When I come home tired after a long day’s work I will sit and gaze at your painting, sometimes as long as fifteen minutes or even half an hour, and I feel at peace, and it seems like your painting recharges me, fills me with fresh energy, and helps to drain away the cares of the day.” Now that, my friends, dissolves the memory of every negative comment I’ve ever received! Hold onto those comments and let them refresh and sustain you as you move forward with your art.

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Keith Barnett September 5, 2013 at 3:27 am

My college art days was a trial by fire. I’ve always wanted to do representational artwork which has been out of vogue for a few decades now, especially amongst the younger crowd in college. Our class critique sessions generally descended into ego stroking for the “cool” crowd and merciless taunting of those of us that “just didn’t get it”. But there is something about art that rises above the critics and trolls. For those of us lucky enough to have the desire to create art, there is a passion for putting paint to canvas that goes beyond what other people think of us. The greatest wisdom that I have ever learn about art, is the ability to use constructive criticism as a means for improvement, and to use destructive criticism as fuel to start the next canvas.

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Keith Barnett September 5, 2013 at 3:37 am

It has been my experience that critiques of your work by other artists tend to be more about their own artwork than about yours.

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Phyllis Terrell September 5, 2013 at 5:46 am

I have really enjoyed all the comments. There are two phrases that have kept me working as an artist, and I don’t know where they came from: “The road to success is paved with rejections”; and the other phrase is: “If you think you can do something or you think you can’t, you’re exactly right.” I have overheard people say “I could do that”, but where are they? It’s a lot of hard work to get enough art painted and framed and hung for a show. I just ignore them. Everyone has different feelings about your art. A piece that might be rejected for one show might actually win a prize in another show. I just keep on painting and ignore the negative remarks.
Phyllis

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Michael Ressler September 5, 2013 at 6:44 am

Wow…the timing of this blog is amazing.
As you posted it, I was preparing to present my new website (www.CritiqueMyArtwork.com) to an art group.
I am an artist, art educator and software engineer and this website is my attempt to combine my diverse worlds together.

I created and designed the site so that artists could improve their artwork through CONSTRUCTIVE criticism from fellow artists. From the beginning I have been concerned with Trolls so I designed the site that only registered users could leave a critique rating and comment. This eliminates anonymous comments but it won’t prevent trolls or hurtful critiques.

1) May I put a link on my website to this blog article? I think it would help many of my future users.

2) I don’t have a “staff of moderators”, but should I enhance the website so that the artist could moderate all critiques before they are posted by doing:
2a) An artist could report an abusive critique? I as the webmaster could disable the Troll’s login and remove the critique but all of this requires my interaction.
2b) An artist could delete the negative critique? But this would allow them to only keep the highest critique ratings.
2c) An artist could hide the comment text but the critique rating would still be averaged in.

3) Any suggestions on how to keep the website supportive and helpful with constructive critiques? I want the site to be a positive experience.

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Marilyn Mooney September 5, 2013 at 7:30 am

I guess everyone has a story, sometimes funny and sometimes not. I was doing an outdoor art festival many years ago when a couple came into my booth. The husband loudly said to his wife, “You can tell this artists doesn’t know what they are doing.” I was talking to my daughter in back of my booth and heard this. I told her that I had to go and stop this man from scaring away customers. As I entered my booth, I recognized the man. I greeted the couple and said to the man, “I know you. You’re the lector at my church.” The wife recognized me and practically crawled out of my booth from embarrassment and he followed her, thank God.

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Kathy McClure September 5, 2013 at 8:02 am

Is it my imagination, or do people who criticize talk louder than those who praise? When I’m at an art fair, I seem to always hear the people who say, “I can do that,” or “I have a picture just like that!” (indicating theirs is better). And I feel like everyone around also hears them. The praise comments seem to be whispered!

It is true that it takes about 100 good comments to erase or ease one harsh criticism. That’s what makes the bad comments so hard to take.

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Nolan Haan September 5, 2013 at 8:32 am

One phrase that helps me is, “Would you rather be right, or would you rather be happy?” This keeps me out of many protracted arguments.

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Sherry Campbell September 5, 2013 at 10:52 am

When it comes to comments about paintings, everyone has his own taste, including me. The very 1st painting I ever sold was at an art fair. I didn’t want to show it because it wasn’t very good but I only had 10 paintings so I included it. A week later I got the most beautiful letter from the customer asking how I was able to part with it. That letter was so full of compliments I treasure it to this day. Yes I got more letters but never again one so complementary.

“Experts” have their own taste. I had a student that I thought was finally ready to join an art association. Her paintings were rejected. I had to put all my powers of persuasion to work to get her to enter again the next month. She not only was accepted but she got the best of show ribbon. For the next 3 months she got the best of show ribbon from each of those “experts”.

I sold only Pastels early in my art fair shows. One time a woman stopped in front of my booth and said in a loud voice with huge animated hand gestures, “Oh, these are chalk. Soon all that chalk will fall completely off the paper!” I was so shocked I sat there in silence with dropped jaw. Now I include a written description of Pastels and the history of their longevity in my booth.

One time I had a family of 2 adults and 1 child purchase paintings from me. As soon as the father finished paying for his painting, his child of about 7 or 8 paid for his. As the child was paying, his father kept telling him what poor taste he had. Again I was so shocked that I didn’t say a word. That was a mistake. What I said in silence was that the child had better taste cause he bought one of my favorites. What I wish I said to the child was simple that I admired his good taste.

As I said at the start, we all have our own taste.

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Carol Lynn Kirchner September 5, 2013 at 11:16 am

You know, when I first read the premise of this conversation I didn’t recall anything someone said about my work that really bothered me. However there was one time…
One of the most important things I remember was from a person with power over my situation. I know there are individuals who say whatever about my work. I listen and thank them for their time. The professors who were mine for a while were the ones I can now look back on who had the potential to shape my reactions. Most of my professors were very good and knew how to critique a students work. There were a couple who were not.
There was one, a fine painter who I had admired. He was not one of my professors but was charged with evaluating our work at the end of the our second year in school. He essentially told me to go home. I was no artist and never would be. This was powerful stuff. I had received a tuition scholarship based on talent. I’m a quiet person and I waited all summer to decide what to do. I finally wrote a letter to the college, gave back my scholarship and looked for another place to study. My parents were furious but I could only think of going around the problem. Perhaps not the best solution but it was the one I chose. I called the new college on the phone on Friday, told them my grades, gave another professors name for a recommendation and was told to wait for a return phone call later in the day. The call came and Monday morning I was in Minneapolis with my portfolio to start classes that morning. It did take half a year to get my portfolio back from the director of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
So I guess artist need to have something in their DNA that tells them to persevere. We can always learn from critiques be they professional or not. After all we set ourselves very bare by exhibiting work we do for all the world to see. Now all of these years later I can see that I gave this professor the power to make me leave but then I was so much younger than I am now. He didn’t really affect me as an artist, just where I did my work. We can always learn. We can always grow.

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Ellen Scobie September 5, 2013 at 11:55 am

I work with digital media and encounter many people, especially at art shows attended by a wider public, with an opinion that indicates they are not my customer base :). With someone like this, when they’re finished talking, I simply give them a bright smile and say, “Thank you for stopping by. I hope you enjoy the rest of the show” and I wave my arm in the general vicinity of the other booths. Then I literally turn away from them to greet another visitor or pretend to have something else that needs my attention. They always walk away. After all, they are not interested in talking to you. They are just interested in voicing their opinion. When at an art show, I try to keep my highest and best energies focused on connecting with those people who are interested in my art.

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Pamela Neswald September 5, 2013 at 1:20 pm

When we had our gallery, I had artists come in on several occasions and “critique” various artists whose work was completed, signed, framed and hanging on the wall at a show reception. They honestly thought that they were helping by suggesting how the art should have been created differently. Perhaps, when teaching is what one is accustomed to doing, it becomes natural to share one’s expertise. Just as a reminder, an exhibition setting is not the appropriate venue for this type of unsolicited education.

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Daniel A.I. Swanger September 5, 2013 at 1:28 pm

When someone refuses to pay for a pencil-watercolor portrait at an outdoor festival, I make the most of the situation and ask if I can use the portrait as a sample–and I do. Once on a facebook comment quoting an earlier artist I had learned from, an unknown critic posted right away “it’s a pity you didn’t learn more from this artist.” I quickly replied, “we can’t all be so great,” meaning both critic and artist, but then decided to just block this person. Blocking a facebook connection can be a good decision unless the person reforms and you see them unexpectedly over and over again! In that case, I would expect the person (an artdealer and artist) is reforming themselves by not commenting on the tepid relationship that ensues. Then I just kind of stay away from the emotional rivalry and try to be pleasant without mentioning the blocking.

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Marcia Berkall September 5, 2013 at 2:00 pm

In all the years I have been selling my carvings, I have had only one bad experience, and boy! was it a doozie. It was a special commission, going clear across the country. I keep a blog with up-to-dat photos of the progress on all of my commissions so my clients can watch and comment as the work progresses. We had a few discussions along the way and I did make some changes for her. All way fine, payment was sent, and the sculpture was shipped. I then got three consecutive NASTY emails from my client, criticizing the eyes, the workmanship, everything. So many people have since commented on that piece…all very positive. My response to her was the I am a reasonable person and I assumed she was as well, so “let’s treat each other with respect and work together to solve the problem”. Because the item was larger commissioned piece, with a VERY limited potential base of buyers, I offered to return to her all but the original deposit, which covered the cost of the wood and my time in designing the piece. She could send it back to me, and if it was returned in the same condition it was in when she received it, I would refund the balance. She sent it back…parcel post. it was in shipping for 2 weeks and arrived damaged. I brought it to the post office for inspection for the claim…the claim got messed up, I sent back a partial refund and offered to help in any way I could to assist her in her damage claim…she had to initiate it. It was the worst experience of my career. My guess is that she had a case of buyer’s remorse, but couldn’t admit it and just had to lash out at me. I spent many hours repairing the piece and now it sits on my piano until I canfind someone who wants a carving with limited appeal. *sigh*

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Adrienne Tybjerg September 5, 2013 at 6:35 pm

I will never forget one art show with one guy who just turned me upside down. He kept asking odd questions, then finally wanted to know how long this painting and that painting took. One took me about 8 hours. The other was done in fits and starts over about 6 months. He gave me a look of extreme consternation, and with heated breath asked me why in the world it had taken so long for that one.

The first thing that came into my mind was to ask him how long it takes him to go to the loo each day. I was tired of the game, and didn’t want to say again that it takes how ever long takes for whatever is there to come out. Of course I found something accurate and vagely professional to say to him. He harumphed and walked away.

Whenever someone asks me a question or makes a comment that makes me feel uncomfortable now, I think of that moment, consider recounting it, then smile a very real smile and think of something polite to say. Life is much too short to get involved with things that make you feel bad – particularly if you are counting on keeping your energy high and happy to make art.

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Clinton Hobart September 6, 2013 at 8:05 am

For years I went without ever having my work insulted to me directly, either online or in person. A few months ago I began getting negative comments on my Blog and FB page from several different people. Upon further investigation, and realizing that the “voice” was similar, I discovered that all of them were actually the same person, someone close to me with whom I had a falling out. This person was creating fake FB pages and Google accounts and leaving comments. At first I just assumed it was “trolling” but the truth actually made more sense. I know this is not the case for many “trolling” instances, but as with any crime, sometimes the first place you should look, is around the room.

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Peggy Wrobleski September 6, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Last winter I took over teaching oil classes for snowbirds at three developments when another teacher retired. It happened that at the same time I was searching for a home, packing and moving; I was grateful just to be able to keep all the ducks in a row, as they kept trying to swim beyond my reach. One anonymous student critique of my art after the classes had ended totally floored me, since not a peep (or quack) had been made during the classes, when I frequently sought feedback. What bothered me was the lack of face to face comment. It is difficult enough to take over for a well-liked teacher with a style different from my own. It’s another matter to be criticized by my most challenged student. The good result is that I’m filled with determination to make the upcoming season even more exciting. My only quandary is, in the event this student has realized over the summer how much he actually learned from the classes, do I accept him again as a student? Anonymous is never really anonymous; from his phrasing, of course, I know who he is.

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Rooxanne September 7, 2013 at 9:56 am

At a rescent exhibition, someone wrote a very cruel comment in my guest book; of course, there was no signature. It was basically a complete dismissal of my artwork, without any references to the pieces in the presentation to justify the comment. I was a little shocked at first to see it written there & then realized that the comment was more of a personal attack. A day or so later, I heard friends & colleagues talking, as those that visited had read the comment; they were more disturbed about it than I was. Such comments are very revealing &, as my Mom used to say, “… their telling on themselves…” or exposing probably what they think about themselves. It usually comes down to jealousy.
Another way of thinking about it is that if people feel they can attack your work, well then, you’ve made it! … your work is of consequence. Likely such individuals will gain some satisfaction that the public will see something that “they” have done, even if it’s just on the coattails of another person. It’s sort of a “… well, me too” situation.

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Diana Deikman September 7, 2013 at 11:17 pm

Thank you Jason for your thoughtful essay. I really enjoyed everyone’s comments. I am sure I will have a chance to use some of the advice I read today.

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judi sim September 11, 2013 at 6:43 pm

I have been told to my face, BY a fellow artist……..”you know that Piece you have in the gallery that is sculptural, and all white?”………………………. i said; “yes”.

She said;’WELL I HATE IT”.

NOT offended..because; in college a tewacher said; IF your ART JUST gets some REACTION…..good or bad, you have done a good work!”.
Just another way to look at it.
That piece later won 3rd..and sold, at the San Diego Fair to a couple from La Jolla, Ca.
So much for any comments.

GOD GIVES EACH of us the GIFT to do ART.
………………………………………………………………..

DO not listen to anyone…but your creative gift..
SAY; if we were all the same….HOW BORING!
…………………………………………………………………..

ART is a gift ..from God.

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judi sim September 11, 2013 at 6:59 pm

MY comment to the unhappy critic?
I said;
“You have the right Not To like It.”

Period.

My GOAL in my ART GIFT;

BE 10 percent off center. Do my BEST..SHARE My GOD GIVEN GIFT with the world, for all time.

Do God’s will with your GIFT and keep doing it!
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
Ignore those unhappy People………As many. WANT TO FIND THEIR STYLE!
THEY realize, you have found yours.

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Natalie Green September 14, 2013 at 8:42 am

I’ve had a couple of experiences that were annoying: one was where I had sent some images to a national art federation in hopes of being accepted into the federation. I’m an artist who specializes in realistic art, acrylics, watercolors, and recently, photography. The feedback I received on one of my paintings was that my wolves weren’t accurate, which was funny, because they were foxes! Another was when I took a week long summer course, and the instructor kept telling me that I wasn’t an artist, I was merely an illustrator, abstract art is the only true art. Imagine my surprise a few years later when I saw some of her new work in my exact style!

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George Miller September 14, 2013 at 10:47 pm

Hello Jason, I am sure this comment will not make the long list of replies but I thought people might find it interesting. Some time ago I sat in on an open adult art class. After one’ sit in’ I was asked to pay for the added 3 weeks…I was happy to do so. The instructor, an excellent artist of many years, wanted to see my work and I was shy since I never showed my art to anyone in all the years I painted…….I am 68yrs of age. He was taken aback when I did bring in some giclee prints. I was told to ask him to visit my home to see the actual works by his best friend and someone who thought we would “hit it off”. In brief, he cancelled 4 times on me and I was very hurt. His friend did all he could to get us together some years later and I told him it really was not up to me as I already extended the invitation. To make this short…..the friend really tried hard but it was oil and water. He later posted an email to me that the artist was willing to take me on as a private student to learn BASIC ACADEMIC DRAWING. My response was “please be sure to thank him for his interest”.

Nothing else ever came of it. Not to brag but I take 3 months per painting and have paintings in 3 countries and six states in this country.

Brief foot note Jason. I must tell you I think your efforts to promote art and knowledge about this form of expression wonderful. Not one art gallery I have been too here on the east coast has even come close to your hard work and devotion. I think I can say we are all most grateful from what I have read here today.

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Tim March 31, 2014 at 5:44 pm

So If anybody leaves a neg. comment you think their a troll. This is the failing of the culture of art, that attitude in itself is a bold development of thought. The price paid for such lucidity, ponderous concept indeed, or perhaps just elegant skirting round of the difficult issues. Troll, such a pugnacious finality. When one reads a blog on art it remains to the reader to determine just how it works in the history and theory presented-what that history and theory depend on. In art and culture of the present there are assumptions about class and one’s place in society. A troll, reaction to a far from unprecedented cultural situation, bluntly, the decadence of a society. Artists and writers must depend in large part for communication with their audiences. If you cannot embrace criticism, would it be a simple solution just not to engage a critic as not to escalate the matter, or has that idea ever pressed the boundaries of your simple mind. Quite simply stated if you cant take the heat get out of the kitchen…..Do not engage. The logic is ineluctable, it holds the critic in a vise,” and time and again it overrides the most impure and ill-advised intentions:

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Lorenzo Irico April 25, 2014 at 8:34 am

Keep calm and move on, definitely the best advice. Do consider though that negative critic is part of life, as is praise and appreciation. Is quite common for artists to have a sensitive core, no one is invulnerable to bad comments. The important thing is to build on it in a positive way, you can always learn something even from your “enemies” rants.
Finally keep in mind that every great artist has been through it, from Manet to Pollock, Schiele to Miro’, and sometimes open criticism has escalated into full blown wars and great rivalry, like the ones of Michelangelo and Raphael, Caravaggio and Giovanni Baglione, Matisse and Picasso.

“To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing” – Elbert Hubbard.

I rather be.

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