How to show the disadvantages of a piece without turning the artist down (and making them feel worthless)
We all have our own perspectives, and so we all interpret things and, most importantly, comments differently. If Person A wrote a comment and thought they sounded quite calm, Person B could take the comment and perceive it as Person A attacking them.
One way to show the disadvantages of a piece is by reducing the accusing and insulting tone by introducing words such as "maybe/might", "perhaps", "I think", "could be", which softens the overall tone and make you sound less blunt and "in your face".
Additionally, putting a small disclaimer such as, "However, this is just how I see it", or "It might just be me", helps too.
Improvement takes tone one step further. By making your tone less blunt, you could also illustrate how the person can improve and give them an alternative version to the piece, instead of saying, "The face is fat, period".
Why is the face fat?
If you included the reason why you thought the face was fat using the pointers in the Tone section above, you are already half way there.
The next half is explaining how they could improve, which leads to the next topic
Of finding a balance, which is key to making sure the artist doesnt feel as if their entire piece is rubbish.
Dont just focus on what you dont like and what could be improved. After giving a bit of advice on how to improve, list some positive aspects about the piece, too, whether it is the colours, the details or the small things we often overlook.
Another aspect of balance is by matching your comment to the artist and their skill level. If the artist is not advanced in their art, dont write about things that they cant do (unless you illustrate how they can achieve it). Instead, create a balance by picking a few key areas where improvement can be made and balancing that out by the things that they can do with no improvement.
Last but not least, its all to do with how you format and organise your comment. If you list something negative, and then a positive and then end with something negative, how will the artist feel to reading something that starts off positive, which leads to a negative and finally finishes on a positive?
In that way, a great way of making sure your comment feels balanced is by creating a "sandwich":
It really makes a difference as to how the comments are received, because if you start with the negative they read the whole comment in a bad mood and if you finish on a negative they're thinking about the bad stuff when they reply to you. ~ `Itti
Comments Received (How to handle and reply)
First of all, thank them. If they comment positively or negatively about your piece, thank them. If you dont want to thank them for the comment, thank them for the time they spent on the comment, even if their comment is downright insulting.
Because it will hopefully soften the inevitable confrontation that you will eventually have, if the comment is offensive.
If you cant bring yourself to thank them, dont fret about it! Well just move to the next point
Take a step back and breathe
Not literally, though! (Unless you want to)
Normally, seeing things with a new perspective can help prevent any drama that is looming. If taking a step back and breathing doesnt work, dont comment.
There is nothing wrong with leaving the comment for a day and then coming back to it, even though commenting straight away and flaming the other person in return is so much fun.
Additionally, dont hesitate to hide the comment if you dont want to comment and you dont want anyone to see. Nothing is lost or gained, in that respect.
$damphyr posted an awesome guide at %communityops here about feeding trolls, or rather, not feeding them. It is a worthwhile read if you have a spare moment!
Replying to comments
Sometimes, the people commenting do not make themselves clear enough. Due to this, misinterpretation can happen and things may escalate when, really, you were all talking about the same thing anyway.
Thus, if you dont understand a comment or you are bothered by it, think whether it is because the commenter is not making themselves clear or whether they actually intended to insult your piece. If it is the latter, repeat the step previously.
If someone is rude about your piece, the instinct is to fight and be rude back. If you feel this way, try and persuade yourself that the commenter had good intensions, even if it is not true.
Additionally, some people may not be very fluent in English, so they may not be able to find a proper way of expressing their thoughts.
In conclusion, think before replying. If you are confused or disturbed, perhaps you can ask a question to help clarify that, or perhaps you could explore the possibilities of what they meant.
If you have received a brilliant comment and you dont know how to reply, the least you could do is thank them. Some people feel that because the other person has put time into the comment, that they should put time as well into responding, but when nothing comes to mind, it may be a problem.
An idea is that you could thank the person and then go to their own gallery and comment on one of their pieces in the same way, thus expressing your gratitude in a different form.
Overall, though, a comment is just a comment, from an artist who is just an artist. We all have different viewpoints, and like positive comments shouldnt feed your ego (even though it does feel nice), negative comments shouldnt bring you down, either.
A few interesting guides:
doubting your art? - DON'T!
How to feel miserable as an artist
Accept - Don't Deflect!
Getting Over The DA Blues: Help Guide
Building a Stronger Community
How to Improve your Art
Criticism vs Constructive Criticism
The Official CC Critique Guide
Writing a Critique
This guide is by no means accurate or complete and it does not apply to everyone. It was written by %ProjectComment as a Group, by deviants, for deviants in the hope of providing some things to think about.
I would like to thank the following who contributed: ~amaira515, ~ChaoticSkye !Iluvocnj2006, `Itti, !Scarlesaur and ~xblackxbloodxcellx. Their efforts in the making of this guide are much appreciated, and they deserve to be recognised.
Thank you for reading.
^3wyl, posting on behalf of %ProjectComment