Whose feedback matters for an artist?

Updated: 5 days ago

My Mom makes me feel hilarious. It is unlikely, though, that I am as funny as my Mom thinks I am. My Mom would be the wrong person to consult for in a comedic career.

5 Steps for Finding Truly Helpful Feedback

  1. Take a class.

  2. Read reviews of work like yours.

  3. Don't hang out with Dipshits.

  4. Develop internal dialogue.

  5. Thicken that skin.

Take a Class

Some cool people teach courses. Use them for skills you need supervision to master, like soldering. The tools are there for you to work with without investment, and their over-your-shoulder feedback is invaluable.

In more advanced courses, look at the instructor's work. Is it compelling? Once you get past the necessary skills, an instructor's artistic choices matter. If their artistic choices leave you cold, move on.

Photo by Albert Dera on Unsplash

Don't Hang Out with Dipshits.

I took Color Theory Classes from well-known painter Roger Winter. He taught only in the spring semester because he successfully got away with painting in the fall. Roger walked into the first day of class and said he knew we would ask how to become a famous artist, so he wrote instructions down. The list he handed us said:

How to Be A Success Artist




don't hang out with dipshits

Confused? So was I. Over time, I realized what he meant. Who you surround yourself with matters:

  • Dipshits will push to sell too fast.

  • They lack patience.

  • They use selling as a barometer even though you can sell just about anything.

  • Dipshits talk about finding "their creative selves."

Don't hang out with Dipshits.

Photo by Tom Crew on Unsplash

Look at Product Reviews for Products Like Yours

Vicarious feedback is valuable. I make jewelry and browse Sundance Catalog reviews. And Carbon to Cobalt and 32 Bar Blues. Customer feedback for work like mine helped me discover that:

  • 8" bracelets are too short for larger men

  • Magnetic clasps add value

  • A piece that breaks is crazy frustrating

Use feedback others have endured. It's embarrassment-free.

Photo by Jana Sabeth on Unsplash

Development Internal Dialogue

Even my sons will say that art is subjective. It's not. Developing taste takes time and work. Be your honest critic.

  • Look at other artists' work but don't copy.

  • Look at more artist's work and steal ideas.

  • Review earlier ideas you had. Something that seemed wrong earlier may just be an idea you had prematurely.

  • Be patient.

  • When you hit on something you will know, like hitting a golf ball 200 yards, you will know.

Thicken That Skin

Probably the hardest thing to do.

  • Embrace acquaintances who use shoulder shrug emojis as a reply on your Instagram.

  • Don't ask for feedback from your friends.

  • Wear your work and note unsolicited stranger advice.

  • Take your work in-person to a shop you admire. If they don't respond to your work, that is valuable feedback.

  • Do something you love. Do something you would do if no one liked it but you.

Photo by Logan Fisher on Unsplash

Cover image: Photo by Photo by Sensei Minimal on Unsplash