How to Handle Criticism as an Artist

If you’re an artist or an aspiring artist, you’ll eventually find yourself getting faced with criticism. Some of the criticism will be constructive, while other times it will be too general to be useful. Criticism can sting, but it’s important to learn how to filter through the feedback you get so you don’t get too discouraged – and so you can improve in the areas that really matter.

I’ll admit that when I first started promoting my artwork online and exhibiting in galleries, any bit of criticism was pretty painful. It took years to learn how to filter through those comments so I could focus on what could improve my craft as an artist, instead of being crippled by any outside negativity. The reality is that as an artist, not everyone will enjoy your work. So you should focus more on the people who do enjoy your work, and how you can help them like it even more.

Here are some tips on how to handle criticism of your artwork:

1. Take note of the critique and push it aside.

This helps give you some distance from the criticism, and makes it easier to not take it personally so you can approach it with more of an analytical mindset. Being an artist is a personal experience. You put yourself into your work, and when it gets picked apart, it’s hard not to take it personally. So the first time you hear a critique, spend some time away from the comment. Then later, with a clear mind, revisit the feedback you received and see how it can be used to improve your craft.

2. Analyze what was said and figure out what was useful

Did the critic make a general statement without referencing anything specific? If so, no need to mull over their words since it won’t help you constructively.

3. Keep a file of any compliments or words of encouragement about your work.

It’s useful to look over this any time you get discouraging criticism, to serve as a reminder that other people do in fact enjoy your work.

4. Remind yourself why you’re an artist and keep creating.

It’s important to take every piece criticism with a grain of salt, so you don’t get too frustrated with your work. With art, it’s all too easy for others to be opinionated critics. Art is really subjective after all, and it’s important that you remind yourself what you love about your own work, so you can keep moving forward by growing in a direction that truly matters to you.

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