As long as feedback is constructive, both the positive and negative kind can be helpful. As a self-taught artist, it is, in my experience, more helpful to know what I suck at than how great I am. The former generally lets you know where to focus your efforts and the latter is mostly useful as encouragement. We’ll talk about both.
Find a Place For Discussion
Online, places for extended discussion will usually be forums or websites designed around a message board system, like Reddit. In these places, you can find areas focused on your topic of interest, you can ask specific questions, help other artists, and post images of your works in progress.
Discussion encourages detailed feedback, which can give you direction and focus. It allows participants to give long-form, unabridged thoughts and commentary to guide you. It encourages recommendations of resources that might be similar to what you are trying to create, link sharing to study material which could help you, and even visual aid.
Sites designed for discussion are also great repositories. You’ll often find that in old posts and archives, someone has already asked about an issue you’re having and many people have already provided a wide range of answers.
Discussion also opens you up to negative feedback, so you must be prepared to receive that kind of honesty. It isn’t always delivered in a pleasant tone, but when the feedback is constructive at its core, at the very least you’ll confirm the flaws you need to work on. At its best, negative constructive feedback can introduce you to all new concepts and techniques and illuminate flaws in your work that you never would have noticed.
Find a Place for Rating
On the other end of the feedback spectrum, there is rating. Likes, upvotes, retweets, and other quick takes on your work. There’s hardly any negative feedback here, aside from just not receiving any feedback, and even that can be interpreted in many different ways. So, if all you get is positive feedback, how does posting your work to platforms like Instagram help you grow as an artist?
Confidence is a big part of growth. Just putting your work out there to be viewed by strangers is part of building that confidence. There’s an element of accountability, too. You’ll want to put your best work forward, maybe put a little extra effort to clean up your lines and choose bolder colors. You’ll find yourself compelled to share a little more often, instead of hiding your art in fear.
Places with positive rating systems are good for encouragement, and, trust me, you will need it.
Ask Your Peers
I recommend asking your peers for feedback more often than asking your favorite influencer, because your peers may be more familiar with your current struggles than an artist who is more advanced than yourself. Your peers are also more available. Your fave probably has a whole lot of other fans asking questions and yours might get lost in the deluge and go unanswered.
If an artist you admire has an open invitation Q&A session, that’s a good time to ask, but be detailed and specific about what you want to know. Don’t be vague and don’t ask for life advice that they can’t honestly give (like whether or not you should get a degree.)
Other than that, network at your level. Talk to your peers and follow their journeys. Learn from those around you who may be a little ahead or behind you but are going in the same direction. It’s important that you share similar aspirations, whether in style, subject, medium, or career goals, because this will keep your own voice and personality centered. Influencers influence and not always in ways that are best for you. So make sure you are getting advice from people who are doing what you would like to do.
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