…but I know what I like.

I found this little list of ways to criticize art. It’s interesting that not until four steps in, the final step, does the list include

  • 4. Judgment- What do I think of the work?

In fact, your personal opinion of a piece of art is the last thing to consider.

working on a nudeThis is a good thing, and a bad thing. I mean, every piece of art is trying to communicate, to get across something- to YOU. You are the viewer, and what you think of the work outside of all formal critique, is really the most important thing. Really. You don’t have to know the elements of design or the formalities of color theory to know what you like.

You either like it, or you don’t. Maybe learning more changes your mind, maybe it doesn’t. But your initial response to a piece, without any external or additional information, is really the meaningful part of a critique like this.

I said it’s a good thing, too, didn’t I? That’s because if you don’t know why you like it or hate it, you can’t explain that to anyone else- most importantly, the artist who’s asking for your response.

Learning the terms for different techniques and processes can help with this, but just knowing basics, such as he gives at the end of this list, go a long way. You definitely don’t need to go to class to learn these things. Fuck, I’m an uneducated/self-taught artist; I think you can learn these things, and how to express them, just fine, by reading online, by looking at art, and taking the time to think about your opinions.

I don’t know much, but I know what I like. And if I tell someone how I feel about something they’ve made I like to try to tell them why I feel that way. A negative opinion expressed by a great critic is the most helpful thing on earth.