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The value of FEEDBACK for artists

The term ‘feedback’ is used to describe the helpful information or criticism about prior action, service, or product from an individual, which is communicated to another individual who can use that information to adjust and improve current and future actions, services, or products. [online definition]

feedback arrows

In the business world feedback is seen as a massive positive force. However, in parts of the art world it can be rather different. The act of creating art usually happens in isolation, with an unknown end result or artwork destination. This is because most artists make their artwork for themselves. Making art is often a very selfish, lonely activity. They might not welcome feedback because it would interfere with the perceived integrity of their creative process.

This applies to a high percentage of artists. And it explains why they don’t sell their work to strangers.

Making art will continue to be lonely and selfish unless the artist seeks and welcomes feedback. Artists need to get feedback to move from hobby to serious, or from amateur to professional.

(Sit back, hunker down and await storm of indignant protest.)

It is not enough to show your work in an annual local show run by other hobbyists. It is not enough to put a couple of poor quality photos onto a free website. Instead an artist who wants to be taken seriously must show their work in as many places as is practical and even more important they must seek and value feedback in depth.

They need to know what people like or dislike about their work. The artist must try to understand how their artwork makes people feel. And I don’t mean friends or family people, I mean strangers.

Why is feedback important?

Making art is a creative act by an artist that results in a ‘work-of-art’. The very act of creativity feeds back, and the artwork itself feeds back. As the artwork progresses the artist gets information, and pleasure, from the success, or lack of it, during the creative process. The finished end-result work-of-art itself provides another important type of feedback to the artist.

ARTIST ..>>>>>>.. ARTWORK ..>>>>>>.. ARTIST

This is the first step in a journey. At the start is the artist and at the other end is the artwork.

A second phase in the journey happens when the same finished piece of artwork communicates with an onlooker, a different person, a stranger. This person only receives input from the artwork. The artwork works, or doesn’t work, in different ways for the new onlooker. There is no ‘act of creativity’ factor for the stranger. And crucially the artist is not involved, and doesn’t influence the event, or get any feedback.


The third phase occurs when the stranger communicates with, and does feed back to, the artist. Did the artwork work? If not, why not? Opening up a channel of communication between artist and stranger is very important.


This phase completes the loop. It starts from artist to artwork, then artwork to stranger, and finishes stranger to artist.

ARTIST ..>>>>>>.. ARTWORK ..>>>>>>.. STRANGER ..>>>>>>.. ARTIST

Feedback can now travel around the loop. Not just in one direction but in both directions. Captain, we have lift off.

ARTIST ..>>>>>>.. STRANGER ..>>>>>>.. ARTWORK ..>>>>>>.. ARTIST

How this works and why this is so important.

Ideally, a two-way dialogue opens up between the artist and the stranger and they talk about the artwork. They will talk about the act of liking the artwork or not liking the artwork. But also when this happens the artist and stranger will be able to talk about the act of creating and showing the artwork. The artist will be able to understand why the stranger was looking at it.

The artist will gain massively by understanding whether and how the artwork worked.

The artist will appreciate that the artwork is for the strangers benefit. And that the artist’s purpose is to create artwork for strangers and not for themselves. And this is a huge step in an artist’s progress from hobby to successful professional.

And even better, the stranger will understand why and how the artist made it. This adds a huge dimension to the stranger’s perception of the artwork, and helps sell the art.


And nowadays it is very possible to get this vital feedback. Artists no longer need to be tied into a gallery system that prevents artists meeting potential collectors.

The galleries interest filters the collector’s reaction through a narrow, biased bottleneck. Artists do not meet the buyers. The feedback is incomplete.

Artists can now create web galleries on their own or in interesting groups. These web galleries can provide a huge variety of artwork to billions of potential collectors. Website galleries can invite and encourage direct feedback. All of these potential collectors are strangers.

And professional artists make their art for strangers. End.


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