Ugh. I just watched a fledgling writer leave a group due to an unsolicited, and unduly harsh, critique. This happens all too often. As over the last few weeks the subject of unsolicited critiques has popped up in my craft groups, as well as in my own life, I wanted to take a minute and address the issue.
Look, life as a creator is hard much of the time. Laypeople often don’t value what we produce, they want our work for cheap or ::gasp:: free, and a huge segment of the population looks at art, in its various incarnations, as hobbies, interests, and pastimes, instead of passions and careers.
As creators, we know support is hit-and-miss within our network of friends and family, but we should be able to count on other creators to treat us with respect, if not support.
So here’s my PSA for today:
Unless you‘re in a designated *critique* group, it’s rude as hell, and utterly tacky, to give creators unsolicited critiques. Would you go up to a woman and tell her you don’t like the way her clothes look? Or how she styled her makeup? Would you tell her she really should lose weight before she wore that dress, or you think she’d look so much better as a redhead, instead of a blonde? That you‘d prefer her ten pounds slimmer? No? Why? Because it’s rude AF—essentially the same as giving creators unsolicited critiques. Doubly so when the critique is made in a public forum/platform.
Among my pro tog buddies, we have an ongoing joke about those people who just can‘t refrain from critiquing all they see. Serial critiquing, when unsolicited, is usually indicative the critic is desperate to bolster their own self-worth by proving their (imagined) superiority—just like those really obnoxious guys who use their sports cars to try to pick up chicks. These folks are usually compensating for something they lack.
When the unsolicited critique is given to a newbie creator, it crosses the line from rude to cruel. It’s scary as hell to share creative work when one hasn’t mastered their craft. Each creation, each work of art—regardless of the caliber—is a part of the artist’s heart and soul. Sharing such an intimate part of one’s self with the world is daunting for budding artists. Seasoned artists, too, sometimes. They’re already agonizing on the inside. Then along comes Critiquer McDickhead, who tears their work apart. Not only is the artist devastated, but some are so discouraged they won’t pursue their craft anymore. Meanwhile, ninety-nine percent of the witnesses to these unsolicited critiques now believe Critiquer McDickhead is an utter douche canoe.
If you don’t want to be known as a dickhead or a douche canoe, don‘t share unsolicited critiques. If you have empathy and compassion for your fellow man, don‘t share unsolicited critiques. If you want to support creators in a world that often doesn’t, don‘t share unsolicited critiques.
If you genuinely believe you are doing the creator a service by providing an unsolicited critique, still don’t. If you absolutely must, reach out privately to the creator and *ask* if they’d be interested in hearing your critique. Anything else is bad form and paints you as a jackass.
Same goes for reviews. Sure. Leave an honest review of art in the appropriate forums, but for the love of G-d, don’t tag the artist. Don‘t post your poor review on the artist’s platform. Don’t share it on their marketing campaigns. That’s *your* review. Share it in review sections, on your own platforms, and with people who ask for your opinion.
In short, don‘t be a jerk.