Seven Things You Should Never Say About Your Art

How we talk about our art matters. Words have enormous power to influence the way people think and feel. The right words can elevate your artwork in the minds of your followers, and the wrong words can make it impossible for them to look at your work in a positive way.

As artists, the comments we make about our art have more power to affect our followers’ opinions than the actual work itself. Negativity breeds negativity, and even seemingly innocent sounding words and phrases can create an environment that changes the way people see you as an artist for the worse.

So if you want to been seen as a professional artist, and if you want people to appreciate and maybe even buy your work, here are seven things you should NEVER say about your drawings:

  1. Finally done
  2. Sorry
  3. Took so long
  4. I messed up on
  5. I need to work on
  6. What do you think
  7. Anybody interested in an art trade

These seven phrases are death to the artist.

Let’s put them together and see what we get… An artist posts up a new work. The comment below looks something like this:

Finally done! Sorry it took so long! I was pretty happy with it until I messed up on the eyes… I really need to work on drawing faces! What do you think?

I see comments just like this over and over again on lots of artist accounts. On the surface it may not seem like such a bad comment to make, but let’s take a look at what this type of comment is really saying to your audience.

Finally done = I really have a hard time finishing MY drawings, and if you commission me, I’ll have a really hard time finishing YOUR drawing.

Sorry it took so long = If you commission me to do a drawing, it will take a really long time before you get what you asked for.

I was pretty happy with it = I really don’t like this drawing at all. If I do a drawing for you, I probably won’t like it when it’s done.

I messed up on = I’m not a very good artist. See? I messed up here and here. If you commission me, I’ll mess up on your drawing too.

I really need to work on = I need way more practice before I’ll EVER be any good. Don’t commission me to draw anything because I have a long way to go.

What do you think = I’m super self conscious about my art and I’m not sure if it’s any good… I guess you’re here because you like my drawings, so could you please say something nice to make me feel better?

I work with artists all time to help them get more sales on their Instagram accounts, and comments like the one above are one of the biggest problems I see.

The audience IS listening

When an artist says negative things about their work, they create a negative impression in the minds of their audience. If the artist who created the work thinks the drawing is bad and then tells the audience just how bad they think it is, the audience will believe them.

Let’s take a quick look at a more positive version of that comment:

Finished another one! I spent a lot of time on this to make it just right. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out! I’m getting better and better at drawing faces! What’s YOUR favorite part?

What does this one say?

Finished another one = I make a lot of drawings

I spent time to make it right = I care about my art and work hard to make the best drawings I can

I’m happy = Im happy, I like what I do, and doing it makes me happy

I’m getting better = I work to improve with every drawing I make

What’s your favorite part = Let’s talk! I’m interested in what you like

I’m sure you can see the difference.

Now don’t get me wrong. If an artist really does hate the drawing they’ve made then they shouldn’t say fake nice things about it! They should post it up with no comment or better yet not post it up at all!

It’s better to have fewer works with positive comments than tons of work with negative ones.

I hope you aren’t in the habit of posting comments like this. But if you are, don’t worry! Instagram has a nifty edit feature so you can go in there and get rid of them!

So… what’s wrong with art trades?

A final thought before I go. If you like to do art trades, please don’t advertise that fact in your bio or comments sections. Art trades tell your audience that you put a low value on your work and that you would accept a drawing in trade rather than money. If someone can offer to trade you art for art, why would they ever pay you for your art? Just by having art trades on your account, you are advertising to everyone that your work is for TRADE.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with doing an art trade so long as you do it the right way. If someone asks you for an art trade and you’re actually interested in trading with them, bump them over to a direct message and work out the trade there. That way you can make all the trades that you want without advertising on your Instagram account that your art is for trade rather than for sale.

In many cases, your Instagram account is the first impression you make on a new follower. So look it over carefully, read the comments you’ve posted, and ask yourself what kind of impression you’re making, then do yourself a favor… talk nice about your art, and while you’re at it, be a little kinder to yourself as well. We all have room to improve and we are all worth a lot more than we give ourselves credit for.

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  1. Really helpful write up! This sounds just like my IG account! Something i have never considered before reading this but makes perfect sense. Being pretty much self taught i think it is easy to fall into making up excuses or reasons for my own perception of shortcomings, rather than focusing on the positives of whatever i create. I am never really too influenced by what people say about my art on social media, but do rely heavily on it to help drum up business. More positivity is the next order of business… Thanks Chris

    • Thanks man! Glad you found it helpful 🙂 it’s a tough one to get a handle on sometimes. As artists seeing where we need to imporove is critical to actually improving but keeping that critisizim to ourselves is …well….critical lol! Like you I find negative comments from others easy to deal with, it’s keeping my own negativity in check that is damn rough!

  2. I’ll have to take a look at my account! I despise art trades sometimes, because I’m totally fine with making my friends art (not excessively), but when it comes to trades- I want the art to be just right, and perfect for my “customer”. It usually makes them happy. But then they want me to send it to them………. Eh No. I don’t really like spending money on packing materials and then sending the art out. (This is why I no longer do trades!) Ah and people also abuse my policies. I have no problem with doing my half first, because sometimes if I haven’t done my half then they’re not motivated to do theirs. But then there are those bad eggs that never even do their half- I could go on and on. ? Bye bye trades ?

    • Yeah man, art trades are an odd thing! When it comes down to it I’m not sure why we think it’s a good idea! If I really like someone’s work it makes ME feel good to support them with a little cash! I think the whole art trade system devalues everyone’s work and makes it harder to see our work as having any real value! Glad to seem em go.

  3. I try my best to keep everything thing I say up beat and positive. Thanks for the advice on the trades. Your the only trade I ever did. You made me so happy. Artsyfartsy62. Incase you forgot . We did it private over D M as well. What I like to ask is when selling how do artist price their work? I’m never sure if I sell too cheap or too high.

  4. I have to disagree with the “finally done” part, especially if you’re somebody who does a lot of freelancing work, you might not have a lot of time to work on something you just want to draw for fun. I know a lot of artists who get really excited when they finish a personal work because they are swamped with commissions, so I can’t imagine it would leave a bad impression if they are getting the work done for other people and are happy they got something done for themselves.

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