Four Things NOT to Say to an Artist


Okay, so here’s a few things I hear quite often as an artist or as other people like to call it, a “drawer”. When you’re “good” at art you hear a lot of comments from people who aren’t “good” at art. Little do they know these comments actually make artists feel upset.

“Oh my gosh you’re so talented.”

No I’m not. Sure, some people just have naturally artistic talent, but that doesn’t mean we’re all coming out of kindergarten painting the Mona Lisa. Talent has nothing to do with how your art looks. Just like sports, or acting, it takes practice. And it does take a lot of it, to get to the point where you can fully sketch something within twenty minutes.

“Can you draw me?”

Every and anytime you draw in public, or with anyone else around. A person will see you drawing and notice you as someone who is “good” at drawing, and their mind immediately goes to the phrase that makes every artist cringe. It seems like something so silly to be worked up about but when you hear it every time you’re out in public drawing, it gets old fast. Not to mention the fact that if I am going to draw you, you have to give me a chance to actually draw you.

“It looks great what are you talking about? Stop trying to get attention.”

Let me ask you a question: When you look at your work for school, or work that you actually care about, what do you see? Is it the flaws? Is it everything you could have done better? That’s what artists see when they look at their work. What could I have done better? So when they absent-mindedly mention how they don’t like their work or think they could have done something better, it’s because they focus on the tiny things that are wrong with the piece. Not everything that’s right.

“I wish I was as good as you.”

Stop please, that makes people feel guilty for being good. You may not mean it that way, and while others take this as an ego boost as a way to feel better about their art and boast but, it just makes others feel bad. Are you trying to make me feel bad for being good? And let’s not forget the fact you could be “as good as me” if you put in the time. If you really want to become a good artist, it’s all about putting in the time and being patient about it.

On the other hand, yes it’s nice sometimes hearing these things. Some people let it get to their head and begin to boast, but more often than not it makes us work harder to become even better for the people who actually enjoy our art. More often than not we’re not noticed much, but when we are it’s nice. These few things though, these phrases, they just make some people uncomfortable. So encourage the artist but please, don’t make them feel this uncomfortable that they have to write a rant about it.