We need a safe word


  • Moderator

    We need a safe word. We, SVS Forum users, as a group are very nice people. We give great critiques, that always consist of a nice thing, then the hard stuff and sometimes finish with another nice comment. BUT, I have noticed, personally and with others, that when an image needs a lot of work, sometimes there will be only one, maybe two, people chiming in to critique. Is it because we can't think of anything good to say and don't want to hurt the artists feelings, so we just don't touch it at all? I trust everyone here, to give an honest critique, so I would not be offended if a critique was a tough one, but reversing that, I would feel bad if I hurt another artists feelings because they thought I was being too harsh, when I would only be trying to help. I believe as a group that we all feel this way. We are artists, we have love and hate for our own work and it is hard to hear the truth even when we NEED to hear it. SO, I propose a safe word. Something that we can place in our post that says to our arts friends here, I am ready for a true critique, hit me with it and I will not be angry with you. AND, that as a critic, we can place in our response to let the artist know that even though we are going hard on them, we are just trying to help.
    Any thoughts on this?
    =)x



  • I think having this there may help people just by knowing this is a tool of communication that they can use if things are getting rough. But what are some scenarios You can think of where it could be used?

    I think examples may help myself and other understand better.


  • Moderator

    @Aleksey Hmmm...
    Example: George posts an image asking for help and he is very happy with it, but its mostly finished. And the composition is not good, or the color and value need a lot of help, the perspective is way off, or the characters are wrong in someway.
    Now, George can put, at the end of his request for help, a safe word that we agree on, that lets everyone know that he is ready for us to really tell him the truth and not pussy foot around, and that he won't quit drawing just because he got a bad review.
    Flip side: If George didn't use the safe word, the critic could use it, to let George know that he is trying to help George and that George should not give up just because he messed up some things in his image.

    @Lee-White has the ability to tell us what we need to hear, and we trust him (i hope) to do this because he is a pro, even if we may not like what he says, we know that he is trying to help. But we are not Lee White. We are basically students, some better some worse, so the trust level is not as high.
    I don't want someone to quit because I was too hard on them. But if I can help, I would like to. I could just go in guns blazing, no apologies. I have been known to be an A-Hole. 😜


  • Pro

    A lot of the time I come to the forums on a short break, or late at night after I'm done working for the day. So if I see an image that needs lots of critique, sometimes I feel like I don't have time to write something in-depth and helpful, or I'm too tired to really take the time to think about it... I can't speak to the others but those are my reasons for sometimes passing over a post and that's not something the safe word would help with - but it's a lovely idea that would clear possible misunderstandings!



  • I propose BANANA as our safe word! That’s always the safe word I hear in TV shows. The hero gets in trouble and has to think of some reason to work banana into the conversation or just gives up & starts screaming BANANA! BANANA! BANANA!! 😂🤣

    Really...who can take themselves too seriously when you’ve had to work the word BANANA into the post, right?!😆

    In all seriousness, though, I agree with the concept. I often shy away from critiques bc I’m not sure how they’ll be taken.


  • SVS OG

    You've raised an issue that I have actually wondered about myself which is why some people's posts get no response while others generate a lot of discussion. When it happens to me, I never know if it's because my artwork is so bad people are speechless and don't want to hurt my feelings or if it's because the subject/style doesn't strike a chord with anyone or if it has just gotten lost in the chatter. I think forums are by nature a weird form of communication because without body language, there is no way to know who is actually listening to who (whom?) or paying attention to what or why something is eliciting a lot of response while other posts hear only crickets. As @NessIllustration said, I'm not sure it's always because people are afraid to give a critique. All of that said, I think the best safe word is exactly what you said: "I am ready for a true critique, hit me with it and I will not be angry with you," and just hope that people believe you.


  • Moderator

    @demotlj Yes! Exactly! 😃


  • Moderator

    @alicia , I was thinking "SQUIRREL" in all caps, in honor of @Lee-White 😜
    😂LOL



  • So you would put the safe word when you WANT people to tear it apart?



  • @Aleksey said in We need a safe word:

    So you would put the safe word when you WANT people to tear it apart?

    Good point. That might make it our unsafe word. 🤔


  • Moderator

    @Aleksey 🤣. Yes. It could work both ways.
    @JerrySketchyArt unsafe word🤣.
    Safe in knowing that even though we are being ripped apart at the soul it is done with the best intentions. 🤣



  • @burvantill Ok what if you had “PRAISE” if you don’t really want a critique, or “CRITIQUE” if you do?


  • SVS OG

    @burvantill I totally get what you're saying. However, instead of a safe word, I propose that when someone wants feedback on a WIP, they ask specific questions. For example: Please look at my... composition, concept, emotion, values, colors, or is what I'm trying to communicate coming through to you?, etc. And if they do not want feedback on something, like if they're still exploring color sketches, they might say, "please don't comment on the colors yet".

    When someone asks for any feedback and doesn't narrow down my lens, it can be an overwhelming task unless there are obvious issues.

    Lastly, giving good critiques is an art in itself. It takes practice, time and thought. I usually comment on a WIP if I feel that I can say something of value that someone else hasn't already said. But sometimes, I'm stumped and don't know how to help, or think my feedback may not be very useful or correct. When this happens, I usually just give an upvote for sharing.



  • @Johanna-Kim I like this... learning communication skills

    @Johanna-Kim said in We need a safe word:

    @burvantill I totally get what you're saying. However, instead of a safe word, I propose that when someone wants feedback on a WIP, they ask specific questions. For example: Please look at my... composition, concept, emotion, values, colors, or is what I'm trying to communicate coming through to you?, etc. And if they do not want feedback on something, like if they're still exploring color sketches, they might say, "please don't comment on the colors yet".

    When someone asks for any feedback and doesn't narrow down my lens, it can be an overwhelming task unless there are obvious issues.

    Lastly, giving good critiques is an art in itself. It takes practice, time and thought. I usually comment on a WIP if I feel that I can say something of value that someone else hasn't already said. But sometimes, I'm stumped and don't know how to help, or think my feedback may not be very useful or correct. When this happens, I usually just give an upvote for sharing.



  • This is so hard and something that should be talked about. Really unless you know the person pretty well, it’s very hard to know how they will respond to a real critique of their work because even when some people are asking for a critique, they still do not respond well to critical feedback. I am guilty of avoiding commenting on posts when I see that there are a lot of things that need work because I don’t want anyone to feel discouraged and I have been in critique situations where people have gotten angry, cried, etc because they didn’t like what they were hearing. But really that says more about me than anything. I would be super bummed if I posted something for critique and did not get any comments, so I am going to try harder to comment on more posts. I think SVS cultivates a culture where critiques will be more positive and constructive than most open critique situations or the internet in general and we need to trust that the people who are asking for feedback here want to benefit from receiving constructive comments and the ones who cannot handle receiving feedback will stop asking or leave.


  • SVS OG

    I agree with @Johanna-Kim . Posting a piece for feedback with a specific focus will help facilitate a more productive exchange. If that's paired with feedback that helps the artist make a few steps of progress (or at least recognize some solutions to implement), I'd count that as a successful critique.
    When I played in my high school orchestra, we sounded horrendous anytime a new piece was introduced to us. Trying to tackle every problem at once would have been pretty counter-productive; instead, our teacher would break up the piece and focus on a certain area for a day or two before moving to the next. That focused approach helped even the most daunting pieces become manageable.
    Another suggestion I'll throw in there is if someone is earnestly looking for feedback, and there is an SVSer who they feel gives objective and actionable critiques, perhaps they could tag them in the post and ask specifically for their feedback. Something like "Hey @soandso, I liked what you did in your book cover piece. Mind giving your thoughts on this composition?" It might inadvertently signal to others that they don't want to hear from anyone else, but that could be easily remedied by a simple "And all others please feel free to provide feedback."


  • SVS Team SVS OG

    I could always create another category, something like CRIT WANTED



  • I agree with @Johanna-Kim too, sometimes people just put "what do you guys think?" I know I have before, but that is a little vague and I find it harder to give constructive feedback as I feel guilty if I write a long paragraph critiquing everything when maybe they just wanted our overall thoughts on the piece!

    But in all seriousness, I personally like having really honest feedback (only if it's constructive though) as it helps to grow as an artist and other artists may have better ideas that you never thought of before. So something like 'BE BRUTAL' could work for those who want the honesty and something like 'BE KIND' for those who do get a little disheartened and need a softer approach to begin with - after all, we're all at different levels of learning and some people may not be used to criticism! Fortunately, I was taught to welcome it during University and so far, all I've seen on this forum is absolutely brilliant, informative and kind feedback which have really helped improve some artists and their work 😃


  • Moderator

    @Johanna-Kim said in We need a safe word:

    I propose that when someone wants feedback on a WIP, they ask specific questions

    I agree with all you said. That would be ideal. The problem there is, if the artist is still learning and doesn't really know what that want to ask, do we not say anything in fear that we will crush their budding spirits. 😳


  • Moderator

    @Chip-Valecek CHIP TO THE RESCUE!!! The simplest solution is always the best solution. This way if they do ask a vague, "What do you think", and they are posting in the hot zone (CRIT WANTED), we can feel comfortable giving a good critique knowing that they are prepared for it.
    GENIUS! 👍


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