Apparently, all users of deviantArt can now write critiques
using the silly critique feature
that was previously exclusive to premium members. However, only premium members can request
such critiques. So, normal users can give
critiques via the critique feature but not ask
for critiques via the critique feature. Back when this first happened, I saw a lot of whining comments about how unfair this is.Doesn't anyone deserve the ability to ask for help and to receive quality feedback?
Yes. But the critique feature doesn't really do anything to achieve that. The only helpful things about the critique feature are that thumbnail will have a "Critique Requested" flag when it shows up in your watchers' Message Centers, and the piece will show up in the "Critiqueable"
feed. This may help some random person who is willing to give you critique notice your art, but I wouldn't count on it. Other than that, the critique feature allows other people to pimp themselves while giving you a standard comment adorned with some meaningless star icons.
Requesting critiques with the critique feature doesn't mean you will get any, and even if you do, it doesn't mean they will be any more insightful or helpful than any other comment you receive. You don't need those star icons to receive a good critique. You are just as likely to get a good critique in the form of a normal comment for free.Yeah, but I've never gotten a critique in a normal comment before.
People do indeed give critique in normal comments. If you've never gotten a critique before, you must be doing something wrong. The reason is not because people don't have access to a fancier comment box.
How do you expect this critique to happen exactly? You post your artwork to deviantArt, sit back, relax, and come back in an hour to find someone has provided you a comment that tells you The Secrets of Art? That's not going to happen.
First of all, writing a critique takes effort. When I am in critique mode, I look really hard at the artwork: I need to really, really see what it is
. I need to try to figure out what the artist was intending
. I need to see what parts of the artwork are
or are not
achieving what the artist intended. I need to try to figure out what could be done differently to make it better
. I need to try to be unbiased
and avoid thinking the way I would have done it is the only right way. I need to make sure anything I point out (such as flawed anatomy) is actually true
. I need to write this all into words that make sense
. I need to try my best to be concise
. I need to try to word things delicately
so that no one takes any unintended offense. This process can take me a good deal of time, with several edits of my comment and several viewings of the artwork (and probably even some outside research or dancing in front of a mirror) before I click submit. It's not something I do when I am taking some time to rest my brain.
On top of this, there is a pervasive anti-critique attitude on deviantArt. While plenty of artists here do actually want critique, enough of them do not that my default view of someone on deviantArt is that they do not want critique, unless they do something that shows me otherwise. I am not inclined to make the effort to critique something if that effort is not going to be appreciated and will merely fall on deaf ears.
Also remember that most people on deviantArt are not professional artists or art instructors or experts in all fields of art. I don't know The Secrets of Art (and, even if I did, they would probably crash the servers if I tried to fit them into a comment on deviantArt). Maybe I can offer you a piece of solid advice, but my comment won't be able to magically transform you into the next reincarnation of Leonardo da Vinci. Or maybe I don't even have any advice I can offer you. Sometimes I look at an artwork and don't see anything that I could critique. Or, sometimes I see something that might be critiqueable, but I am not really sure if my thoughts are valid. In these cases, I won't force myself to offer my critique, because it wouldn't be helpful.
What all this means is, I am not going to write a critique for every artwork I come across. Chances are, I won't be stumbling across your artwork and bestowing you with a critique just because I looked at it.So, how do I get critique?
First, make sure you really want this critique. A lot of people on deviantArt seem to think that getting critique means getting a longer comment about how their artwork really rocks. While a critique might point out some of the strengths of your artwork, a true critique is definitely going to point out where your artwork could be stronger. It can be tough to hear that someone can see flaws in something you worked hard on. It is easy to get defensive or upset, and it takes a lot of maturity to keep these feelings at bay and accept a critique with grace. I know I personally have this problem. The rational part of me really wants the critique, but sometimes the non-rational part of me freaks out when I hear it. If you are not prepared for the worst case scenario where someone figuratively rips your artwork apart, you might not really be ready for it to be critiqued at that moment in time.
Assuming you truly want some actual critique and are ready to handle it, you must ask for it. This starts with saying so in your Artist's Description, but that's not really enough. It's really important to let people know you want their advice, but this still is taking a fairly passive role in your quest for critique.
Next, you should try to alleviate all those things I said were hard about writing a critique. The easier you make it for the person giving the critique, the more likely they will actually give you one.
A vast majority of my critiques are on my friends' artworks. This is because I know my friends ask for and appreciate my input. I do not need to be so careful about hurt feelings because my friends know that is not my goal. I don't really need to make sure I am objectively correct, because my friends care about how I subjectively view their artwork as well. I don't need to worry so much if my friends understand me, because I know how to communicate with them better than with a stranger on the internet. I am also already motivated to help my friends because they are my friends. My friends provide me with feedback on my art as well. So as much as you can make critiquing you like critiquing a friend, then the easier it is for everyone involved.
It is probably best, if you want to get critique from someone on deviantArt, that you start by asking your friends here. Is there someone you watch on dA that you sometimes comment and fav back and forth with? Maybe if you shoot that person a note asking for their opinion on a particular piece, it will be easier for them to comment without any barriers, and it would be more like asking a friend. Sometimes a person I watch will post a journal discussing something that they feel they have trouble with and asking their watchers to give them advice. Your watchers all supposedly have some degree of familiarity with you and your work, so letting them know that you want this help might get you back some response.
As for getting feedback from people you don't already have a connection with... that is a little different.
I do sometimes give random critique to random people on deviantArt. When this happens, it is usually because I saw something right away in the artwork that I knew I could give some valid advice on. It also helps when the artist actually asks for critique in the description and names a specific thing that they particularly want help with. Then I don't need to guess what the artist was trying to do and I know where to focus my attention.
It also helps if the artist sounds earnest in asking for the critique, and if anyone else in the comments has offered up any advice already, that the artist said thank you or maybe got into a constructive discussion with the critiquer. However, it's not a good thing if the artist feels the need to respond with how everything anyone ever says is invalid. Sometimes it is true that the critiquer didn't quite get the point of what you were trying to do, and so their critique suggests things that would go in a different direction than you intend; it is fine if you decide not to follow that advice. But such a critique still tells you that you are perhaps not conveying your intention well enough, so it is still helpful. Also, it is unlikely that everything
comment will be completely invalid. There is probably still something useful in every critique even if they didn't get precisely what you were going for.
Finally, and most importantly, you have to give in order to receive. If you offer helpful comments to your friends here on deviantArt, and respond when the people you watch ask for advice in their descriptions and journals, those people are more likely to return the favor in the future. If you leave constructive comments on a random deviation, that person might look back at your gallery and see something they would like to comment on in return. Doing these things strengthens your connections here on deviantArt and could build you a network of people that you know you can both critique and request critique from.
It's not easy, and it takes time and effort to build such a network. If you'd like to jump-start this process, there are groups you can join that already consist of people who want to both give and receive critique.
I'd like to recommend
. This entire group is based on the idea that you have to give feedback before you can expect someone else to give you feedback, and so you must leave helpful comments on things in the group before you can add something into the gallery yourself. It is a very fair system, and I have gotten a lot of really great critique. You can also easily meet new people through this group. Lots of other critique-based groups exist as well that you could look at and try out.
It's not the easiest thing to get critique on deviantArt, but it is totally possible. Your success largely depends on your attitude, how much effort you put in to asking for the critique and making it easier for the critiquer to help you, and how often you yourself offer helpful critique to others. It does not depend on how much money you are willing to spend or how many star icons are available.