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When an Artist’s Public “Critique” of Another Artist’s Work Ruins it for Everyone

April 20, 2010

DiscoveredArtists.com BrandMy first job out of college required that I attend a three month training program. Even to this day, I practice one of the main points our trainer continually drove into our brains:

“Never bash or talk-down about the competition. Doing so makes you look unprofessional, the company disreputable and, ultimately, the customer will never do business with you. They may even go directly to the competition.”

Here’s a real-life example of this in action:

A good friend of mine is an art collector. He budgets $15,000 – $20,000 per year for new art.  Chris was attending a large, well-known art show here in Chicago. He found the piece he wanted to buy that day, approached the artist to initiate the sale, and two minutes into the conversation, the artist says:

“I don’t know who the show curators are this year, but the majority of the artists in this show are crap. I’m embarrassed to even be here. Look at the work from the guy in the booth next to mine – what an amateur, he calls that art.”

This artist managed to accomplish five things with her snide remark:

  1. She bashed the competition in front of a prospective customer.
  2. She discredited the curators of the show – whom selected her for inclusion.
  3. She lost the sale.
  4. She made Chris (the customer) feel insecure about his own taste in art (he liked much of what he saw at the show.)
  5. She watched as Chris bought an $8500 piece from the guy in the booth next to hers.

This type of bad artist behavior runs rampant across the web, too. Nasty criticism from “artists” about other artist’s work can be found on art blogs, Flickr, YouTube; all across the web.

Here are several examples I’ve complied from our own blog and other online venues where we have presence:

  1. “As an artist myself, I can say this artist’s work is sh*t.”
  2. “Boring- from a slide projected onto a canvas. wow mind blowing. zzzzzz.”
  3. “While the lay person may be impressed, as a painting major, i still see paint. keep practicing mr. shub. (This one was sent from a self-proclaimed “art major” directed at a 40 year professional artist.)
  4. “Everything in your gallery is crap. Get some real artists”. (From a small-time, struggling European “artist”)
  5. “sh*t”
  6. “Fu**ing horrible painting. You should look at my work to see what real art is all about.”
  7. “Amateur art that has no chance of ever selling.” (This “artist” comment was directed at a 30+ year professional artist who, at last count, has sold in excess of $400,000 worth of her paintings.)
  8. “Looks like somebody took a dump on canvas. Have a look at my work (URL provided). “
  9. “boring piece of bronze sh*t – I think I’ll go take a nap now.” (This comment from a self-proclaimed “artist” was directed at a $500,000 bronze sculpture that took 14 months to complete and sold to a well-established collector.)

And many of these nasty and bitter “artists” defend their comments as art critique. This is not constructive art criticism. This is bad social behavior that many of us would sternly punish our children for if they behaved this way.

One of the trends that emerges from these types of comments is a self-serving “look at me”, Napoleon-complex mentality. These comments serve only to cause pain by demeaning other’s hard work in an attempt to build-up the obvious low self esteem of a bunch of losers who loosely refer to themselves as “artists”.

No wonder the phrase “starving artist” exists. It’s a self perpetuating phenomena brought on by bad karma having its way with those who put negativity and bad energy out there for all to consume.

So, if you’re one of these “artists” who has nothing better to do than write nasty, useless comments about another professional’s art: STOP! Perhaps you should be painting instead – we’re quite certain that you need the practice.

Meanwhile, the rest of us – true art professionals- will continue on fighting the good fight by painting, photographing, promoting and marketing – and ultimately protecting the very foundation of the entire art business.

Stay out of our way. Stay off our blogs. Stay out of our shows. Stop calling yourselves “artists” – you don’t deserve the professional moniker. And, keep your blatantly hateful comments to yourselves. Nobody cares to hear your poorly-written, self-serving criticisms – that you call “art critique”. You’re attempting to ruin it for everyone else. Something we’ll never allow you to do.

Brian Walker, Owner DiscoveredArtists.com

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22 Comments leave one →
  1. April 20, 2010 1:37 pm

    I see this kind of online behavior all the time. I’m glad someone has spoken up. I’ve personally made it a point to maintain a positive blog, do all I can to encourage other artists and provide only constructive criticism when it is asked.

  2. April 20, 2010 1:48 pm

    Fantastic, Eduin!

    We’re frankly fed-up with these people and their attempts to dilute our marketing efforts on behalf of professional artists with their snide remarks.

    I don’t believe in censorship, so we leave their comments up. Our recourse is to bring the issue front and center, address it head on and hope that the message gets through.

    Thanks for commenting.

  3. April 20, 2010 3:38 pm

    Perfect post Brian, nobody can say is better than other, we are only different, or more or less trained.

    Everybody deserve a positive feedback. The people that insult other’s work have a very sad mentality…

  4. April 20, 2010 5:18 pm

    Thank you so very much!!! I applaud you for addressing this matter. I am so sick of all the snarky remarks. We should support one another as a community rather than castrate our fellow artists.

  5. April 20, 2010 6:09 pm

    Hi Brian,

    What you say is so true.
    Not everybody is supposed to love every piece of art – it might be still art.
    Well – I think there are many books been written about what is art and what isn’t.
    But like almost everything – it lays in the eye of the beholder (or as some people would put it – in the content of the vallet).

    Again – you are absolutely right – bad “critique”, specially born out of jalousy – is never going to achieve anything good.

    Cheers Peter

  6. Arturo Samaniego permalink
    April 20, 2010 8:43 pm

    Hi Brian,

    I enjoyed reading yor well thought-out post. It is a part of every serious artist’s training to develop a critical eye. This helps us to constantly improve our own work , and to learn from other’s. However, it is totally unprofesional and counterproductive to post unitelligent “critiques” that amount to nothing more than jealous smears.

    The job of the artists is to put out the best possible work you are capable of, and to let it speak for you.

    Arturo Samaniego.

  7. April 20, 2010 10:15 pm

    Very well stated, Brian!

  8. April 21, 2010 4:27 am

    thank you, for your information

  9. Bibi Zarate permalink
    April 21, 2010 10:16 am

    BRAVO!!

  10. April 21, 2010 10:24 am

    Brian,

    Well said! I’m Director of Social Media for Artexpo New York and Artexpo Chicago. We have over 12,000 fans on our Artexpo New York Facebook Fan Page, and when I post images of artwork by exhibitors, it’s always fascinating to watch the comments roll in. By and large, the feedback is upbeat and positive, but every now and then there are some ugly remarks.

    Certainly, tastes vary from person to person, but as Henri Matisse once said, “Creativity takes courage.” Shouldn’t artists band together and support one another? The payoff: a supportive creative community (and as you point out, in some cases, a winning attitude can lead to sales).

    If you’d ever like to write a guest blog for Artexpo, I’d welcome it! http://artexponewyork.com/blog/ Feel free to email me.

    • April 21, 2010 11:19 am

      Yes! A thousand times yes.

      I know you asked Brian the question, but I’m throwing in my answer.

      “Shouldn’t artists band together and support one another?”

      Inasmuch as it’s tough enough to compete in today’s (or any past day’s for that matter) art market there’s no real positive outcome for trashing other people’s work. Especially if you fall somewhere in the realm of “emerging/struggling/starving/starting/learning artist”. And quite frankly, if you’re a successful artist, whose fame and glory and work truly is above the work of your peers, you only do yourself a disservice by comparing your work to others, as there would, of course, be no comparison to begin with.

      Brian makes many great points throughout this piece but the one thing that stands out, to me, was: “She made Chris (the customer) feel insecure about his own taste in art (he liked much of what he saw at the show.)” Which only hurts the art collecting community.

      And for that…you shame the entire art world.

  11. April 21, 2010 10:47 am

    Thanks for saying this; it needed to be said. I actually received discouraging comments from a curator where I atttempted to submit work for a show. I still receive calls for art from this gallery but very hesitant to submit a application. I can’t afford to lose money in application fees just to be told my work is “unfinished” when in fact, it wasn’t. It’s not just artists saying discouraging words it can be curators as well. There are lots of ways of saying the same thing without a harsh, negative and discourgaing tone to it.

  12. April 21, 2010 10:58 am

    The old phrase in educating the next generation of educators was very simple….

    Praise full & loudly and in a public arena…

    IF you have to do the opposite…only do it quietly and in private behind closed doors…

  13. April 21, 2010 11:04 am

    Years ago I went to a well established local (at that time) gallery and asked for marketing advise…I was told to do real sculpture in like bronze. Many years later that same gallery owner showed up in my new home state and I was in a show that he was helping to produce. I had a new work in my medium of choice, and the man looked at me and said I told you to give up that medium years and years ago. I was wrong.:) LOL I also now do bronze and many other mediums, because of his little voice in my head. But he still doesn’t want it in his gallery and I am very okay with that.

  14. April 21, 2010 11:18 am

    Such an unattractive trait in an artist, musician, author, photographer – actually anyone. I don’t know where it comes from. It has no merit, nor does it elevate the person who is making the statements.

    I have usually noted that the ‘artists’ who have the desire to spew hatred and vile comments toward other artists have their own baggage. Maybe in the day of reality shows like “Americas next top model (NOT), and “Big Brother” and the such, the dissing of the other contestants has become a defacto part of our lives. But, like the crap shows that promote it, there is no future in engaging in it.

    And when I meet someone like that it instantly turns me off from continuing to have any dialog with them. Bigtime.

  15. April 21, 2010 12:45 pm

    Well said! There’s an old proverb that fits here, “Don’t spit in the well, you might drink from it later”.

  16. April 21, 2010 2:07 pm

    If you own paintbrush and paints, put it on a canvas, and put it up, you are not an artist. You just applied colors onto a weave of fabric. If you can sell it, then you are one. It’s that simple…What people see, or are meant to see, is entirely up to you and how much work you put into the presentation. People that recognize good art, or that is, art with a visionary message that is concrete, and has something that makes it interesting, pleasing to the mind/eye, know what’s good, and thus the work gains mass appeal. Not true? How much art have you witnessed in your travels? Ok, out of that, how many were worth the price asked? Why didn’t you buy it? It’s because it didn’t meet the standard of what you’d like to buy and hang, ie what you think is “good”, versus the amount of money asked? … An artist worthy of purchase doesn’t have to prove himself or herself in anything other than what’s there on the canvas, the photo, the sculpture. That said, there is admittedly a majority of shows and galleries that, by appearing to be humanitarian in their choices of artists (and certainly that’s the intention), include everyone that ever made a paint splatter or put papier mache’ on a balloon in the past twenty years. Most of this is due to the community’s own disparity of real working artists. This is because the real wunderkinds of that commmuinty left long ago.. to new york, or someplace much more metropolitan,. Those that run these events and shows take what they can fit to fill the walls… nothing more. This is something that can’t be helped. The harsher of these artists/critics at these shows need do only one thing… move to the place where their work can be appreciated, instead of being a whale in a frog pond. Put their art where their mouths are, in other words.

  17. April 21, 2010 2:56 pm

    You couldn’t be more accurate! Nice!

  18. April 22, 2010 6:55 am

    Thank you for bringing this up. I attended an art show this past weekend as a consumer and was very shocked to hear some of the things others were saying about their fellow artists. Obviously a lot of it is jealousy, they see someone they view as being inferior to them selling work while their work sits in their stall unnoticed. Others seem to be just plain ignorant.

    People should remember that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. There’s no need to bash anyone or their work.

    ~Michael

  19. April 23, 2010 8:06 pm

    Thanks , Great tips!

  20. April 25, 2010 1:05 pm

    well said!

  21. May 14, 2013 9:26 am

    Do you mind if I quote a small number of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources returning to your website:
    https://discoveredartists.wordpress.com/2010/04/20/when-an-artist%e2%80%99s-public-%e2%80%9ccritique%e2%80%9d-of-another-artist%e2%80%99s-work-ruins-it-for-everyone/.

    I am going to aslo be sure to give you the appropriate anchor text hyperlink using your
    blog title: When an Artist’s Public “Critique” of Another Artist’s Work
    Ruins it for Everyone |. Please let me know if this is acceptable with you.
    With thanks

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