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July 8, 2004
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Someone recently commented on my previous Journal entry, about "The nerve-wracking business of offering comments and critique", saying that I seemed to be a "no bullshit" kind of person.  :lol:

I have to admit that that wouldn't be entirely inaccurate...  ;)  ...although I do lean more toward being as tactful as possible, and packaging critique in a "sandwich" form.

So, since my original reply to their comment was so long that it seemed to merit a Journal entry of its own, here it is:

"How to Make a Critique Sandwich"

First I try to comment on the piece's strength(s), *then* on the areas that would probably be the best place to focus on improving (in my opinion), and then I try to finish off with an encouraging comment, making it clear that since everyone can always improve, having places where one can improve is not necessarily the same as having "weak points" in the piece.

I do think that people tend to respond to critique best when it is offered in a really appreciative and supportive way -- but I've never seen the point in making no comments other than "ooh, aah, ohh".  :lol:

So if I can't find *something* positive to comment on, I tend not to critique a piece;  after all, what's the point in telling someone "this is a complete piece of dogbarf, with no redeeming qualities whatsoever";  in a case like that, I couldn't make any suggestions on how to improve it, without starting with "make an entirely different piece of artwork, which looks nothing like this one".

On the other hand, if I like the concept, that constitutes a strength on which the person can build, and making a suggestion or two on how to start improving the execution can be balanced and justified by that strength.

Sometimes people create artworks that are incredibly beautiful, and in which I can find no flaw, and about those, I have no compunctions about going "ooh, ahh, ohh" -- after all, knowing our strengths is just as useful to our continued improvement as knowing which areas most need improvement, because it is our strengths that we need to build upon, in order to keep improving.

But, the more perfect an artistic creation is, the smaller the flaws which I will critique, because they are all that is left standing between the piece and perfection.  :)  That's not to say that I believe in nit-picking a piece to death, though;  I prefer to limit the number of suggestions I make with regard to any given piece, because I think one of the important things to remember when offering helpful critique is not to overwhelm the person, and make them feel that the piece is an utter botch, and not worth the work of "fixing".  I see critique as being less about "fixing" any given piece, than about the artist's growth over time.

I guess what it comes down to in the end is that I try to give the kind of critique I would like to receive.  That means things like focusing my suggestions on the points that are easiest to improve, so that the artist can *see* their progress, from one piece to the next, and will have more strengths to build upon, when they take the next step forward.

We don't tell a baby "okay, that was a good first step, now here are all the things you're doing wrong, that are keeping you from running like Cathy Freeman".  If they could understand what was being said to them, they'd probably sit down and howl and never try to walk again.

Growth happens in steps and stages.  Respecting that is, in my opinion, a big part of giving *useful* critique.
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:iconsilwena:
silwena Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2005
I feel encouraged by Your comments, I saw on *questingraven gallery..
If You have some time and You are bored.. please check my gallery. I dont like critique left by ppl who dont understand idea of this. But I would be honoured if YOU would like to critique some of my pieces :blush:
I think I need some kick. Soo.. please?
Unfortunately I am non-native English.. and I am from those who comments: oh ah yay :rofl: Forgive me :giggle:
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:iconcopperphoenix:
copperphoenix Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2005
There is a place for "ooh, ahh, ohh..." -- as long as it's not the only feedback a person gets. Having given in-depth critique, I know that it takes time, and I can't always give it (or think of anything useful to say). But I also know that I (as an artist) value getting *some* feedback, even if it is not in-depth every time, and given the choice between saying nothing and a brief word of applause and encouragement, I'll take the brief word. :)

I happen to like getting (and giving) more guidance than that, and I'd be glad to stop by your gallery and offer you what input I can. :) But enthusiastic appreciation is helpful to an artist, too, and I value it myself, as validation of my own artistic progress.

I am coming to be of the opinion that we need a mixture of types of feedback; getting nothing but critique can make a person feel like their work is never good enough, while getting nothing but praise does not help them identify their problem areas, and work towards getting better at those things.

Getting some "attaboys" and "wow, how lovely" comments amid the more indepth comments and critique helps to counterbalance the occasional person who will do nothing but tear the artist (and their work) to shreds in their derisive comments. The important thing is to have the balance of encouragement and incentive (and better yet, guidance) that each artist needs in order to grow.
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:iconsilwena:
silwena Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2005
Of course .. You have right. I have one problem: I almost never see mistakes.. cos even if I 'thnik' it may be one I assume that it is made by artist 'as' a part of art. That it is not shortage of skills but it was made especially.. as 'style' kind.. like for example anathomy: many advicers give critics about manga anathomy which is funny, especially when they have no idea that manga gives almost 'free hand' in that question. And so long.. not knowing some canons of comic art, pin up art or artist own style make give critic useless.. that is why I very often 'trust' in artist vision and look at art like something which has everything right: from up till down. And I search what can I learn from pic.. not what I can critique. :D

I hope it was quite understable ^^; I am not sure that my explanation what I 'feel' about this is correct in language form :D
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:iconquestingraven:
QuestingRaven Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2004  Professional Traditional Artist
*skiesofchaos refered me to you. I'm needing some help with PHP programming for an upcoming web comic, and he thought you might be able, interrested or willing ... I'm offering a free comission in trade for the PHP coding if you'd be interrested.
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:iconjohnnyjinx:
johnnyjinx Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2004  Professional Traditional Artist
Hi! I found you through Procritique.

After reading your comments on other peoples art (love that "activity" button) I think your critiques were delivered with kid gloves. If you could write more brashly do you think making comments would be less nerve wracking?

Your medical and design training is evident in your critiquing style which places heavy emphasis on design elements, positions, and anatomy.

Do you have a favorite art genre? Who is your favorite artist on Deviantart?
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:iconathenatt:
AthenaTT Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2004
You should join ~ProCritique, if you haven't already, they could sure use you
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:iconcopperphoenix:
copperphoenix Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2004
I'd never heard of them ( ~ProCritique ) before this message -- I'll be checking them out, thanks for telling me about them! :)
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:iconyahuli:
Yahuli Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2004
:clap: Here! Here! That's a very moving entry. ;) That most certainly is the best way to comment on work. Comments from you are definetely more helpful than others I get. :handshake:
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:iconcopperphoenix:
copperphoenix Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2004
Thank you! I'm absolutely delighted to help...

...but at the same time, I'm sorry that your other commenters don't seem to realize how rewarding it is to be part of another artist's growth process. Whether they are more skilled than one's own self is, or not, is irrelevant to this, IMHO, though it can be particularly rewarding to find ways to help an artist one admires, just as it can be rewarding to mentor a beginner whose work shows promise, and who may need a little reassurance in order to keep their confidence up.

In my view, no matter what the artist's skill level, offering useful and supportive critique far more rewarding than commenting with praise that could be practically computer-generated, or with negative comments that tend to have the same effect on creativity that tromping around on the plants would have on the garden. :) :hug:
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:iconennaedwyn:
Ennaedwyn Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2004
I enjoy getting critiques and you're one of the people I look forward to getting some sort of feedback. I think people should remember its how you as the individual take it. I tend to take feedback on the positive side, too much negative in the world, plus it helps me grow artistically. I think constructive critisim is very helpful and your "critique sandwich" merely illustrates this. :hug:s to you!
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