Bad Artists Compliment One Another

MT McClanahan

An artist and perpetual thinker, MT McClanahan finds inspiration through connecting ideas across a broad range of topics. He especially enjoys philosophy and how art and life interconnect. He is the founder of TPT and his paintings can be seen at

8 Responses

  1. roopadudley says:

    I cannot see myself complimenting any artist if I don’t like their work. However, when I do see an artwork that is done creatively and perhaps with a message in it, I feel compelled to compliment the creator of that work. I see a greatness in them as an artist and I want them to know it.

    As for your question “Could a bad artist be one that does not struggle to be authentic?” I would say a firm YES to that. Authenticity is the core of good art. Same goes with people we associate with. If someone is authentic even if s/he is somewhat socially awkward, I would naturally be drawn to them than a charming socially savvy individual.

    I have also noticed that I am gravitating more and more towards the living artists then the dead. For example the art of David Galchutt appeals to me aesthetically, creatively as well as intellectually, art of Jeff Faust appeals to me aesthetically and conceptually, and art of Glenn Seemel appeals to me aesthetically and technically. Of course there is a common thread that the art I am drawn to is usually highly creative (not same old boring en plein air, portraits and still life) and visually stimulating coincidentally done mainly by American Artists.

    I believe it is perfectly normal to compliment someone whose art you enjoy although may be different than your own. It has that magic in it that just cannot be ignored. I would be doing a huge disservice to myself as an artist as well as the artist whose work I admire if I refrain myself from complimenting artwork that I genuinely find awesome. I don’t think complimenting other artists whose work I find noteworthy makes me a bad artist. I know what I am and where I stand as a creative artist and nobody can convince me otherwise. I choose to live in a world of ideas because ideas have no limits — just about anything is possible.

    • Yes I go along with that Roopa. I think about the contrast between the main characters in the movie “Girl With The Dragon Tatoo”. The young girl had tattoo’s and piercings and was a free spirit, doing *her* thing. The older man was straight laced and more a conformist. The girl I found much more interesting (though I’d probably let the man do my taxes before her).

  2. Yikes…who made that statement in the first place?!!…someone with a lack of wisdom, talent and good taste? Who gets to decide what is bad art, or good art, anyway? It all changes…and who are we to say what was authentic to another persons heart. I would never give that comment credibility…neither should you.

    • That’s the rub, I think Sunny–each individual *is* authentic in their own way. But, when I say “authentic”, I mean the artist is using their own voice, not lip sinking to another’s song. An artist resting on their laurels instead of searching for an individual voice can lack authenticity, because it relies on seeing through other’s eyes and on technical prowess.

  3. Dawn Fetty says:

    If you are a serious artist…you want serious feedback from other serious artists…and if you are strong in your own path…you will understand where it comes from…I respect honesty….and understand their honesty comes from their perspective…but it also may make me see something I haven’t seen before….

    • I agree with you Dawn that any critique of one’s work can be revealing. I would think that most would want feedback from someone whose work they admire–from someone they think is better than themselves, or with at least as good an eye. I agree too that part of accepting criticism *is* understanding from whence it came; then you know whether to take it seriously, or not so much. If my 4 year old Grandson told me my painting was beautiful, I would know how to calculate that response to my work–as valid or not.

      I think your whole point is to keep the criticism in perspective. Don’t take it personal. But I tell you to this day it still bites a little, but only for a moment once I get my legs back under me, then I find it quite useful.

      This too makes me think that the quote’s author must have meant something other than we shouldn’t critique each other’s work. That seems quite ridiculous. But there is a difference between critique and compliment. Aha! Maybe that is it, “good” artist’s give useful feedback, not warm fuzzies. You may have hit on the gist of it Dawn!

      • roopadudley says:

        I welcome both Marcus — a cold critique as well as a warm compliment. I like to hear especially what children have to say about my work as I respect their opinions because it comes straight from their heart not from an intellectual or technical perspective like that of an adult (which is also good to me depending upon who that adult is).

        I like your analogy about that movie ‘A Girl with a Dragon Tattoo’. It is amazing how much we can learn and grow as artists if we stop taking things so gosh darn personally and rather see it through the eyes of the person looking at our work.

        • Interesting that you would say that–“if we stop taking things so gosh darn personally”; I’ve thought about that too. It really does make us blind, doing that, or worse it makes us see what isn’t there.

          It’s human nature, or just learned good manners, not to criticize someone’s efforts. We artist’s I think yearn for feedback, honest feedback, and that’s where the authenticity comes in.

          Just thought, maybe the author meant that “bad” artists go well together, like complimentary colors. Probably not.

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