Whenever I see a thread that says "critique my work" I open it up just to see Mike's comments. Not because he is "mean" or "put them newbies in their place" but because he is very good at giving them.
I had an instructor in college that was an ex marine. He was quite blunt with his critiques. Some kids quit the class because of it. I thought they were great. A good critique is a VERY valuable tool, one not always easy to come by.
I think Mike is doing a great service to the people here that ask for one. He should not be discouraged.
If people want constant, glowing, happy critiques...they can ask their mom what she thinks of their work.
i had a metal shop teacher in junior high. no one really liked him. i really didn't like him. he didn't sugar coat anything. and he yelled at you when you did something stupid or dangerous. but to this day i still remember everything he said. because the fluff wasn't in the way and i can remember it all. the feelings are forgotten but you remember the lessons. while i had other teachers, i don't remember really anything positive about them. like my wood shop teacher that smelled like a gym locker and shouted even when everything was off.
A critique is a lot like exercise. If it doesn't hurt just a little, it's not doing you any good at all.
I think Mike helps a lot of people tremendously, when they're willing to listen.
The ones who are offended should consider that your willingness to tell it like you see it is potentially very helpful.
Anybody who hasn't read his thread on self-editing should do so today. Here it is:
i'm practicing to be on jeopardy, gotta be quick on the button. one of the reasons i can type thing fast is because of the critiques. the site was set up so that if you were the first 3, and someone marked it useful, you get 3 points. and the points were worthless but it was a game. later on the points let you upload more things. by the end of a day i could upload something in the neighborhood of like 15 things. but you had to analyze fast and type fast. it's actually how i learned how to type. i don't qwerty type though, my fingers know where the keys are more or less, and i type that way, provided i don't hit two keys at once. or type when i'm tired and make it impossible to read. i don't proof read, but probably should. good thing for spell check.
I've been through more than my fair share of design and photography crits for my university courses and most instructors don't mince their words. If it looks like crap they'll quickly and bluntly tell you so. As a student you learn to listen carefully and move on. If you come back two days later for the next crit and haven't taken their comments into account the review will be twice as bad.
That said, no one goes out of their way to be rude, but they speak clearly and directly because in their experience if they pussyfoot around the point, the designer might not hear it, or will think it's not that important.
I quit responding to most requests on FAA for crits because so many react poorly. They don't really understand what constitutes a crit. Mike should be commended for continuing to do so despite repeated abuse. He is definitely providing a valuable service for the FAA community.
Mike's critiques are great. Not only does he point out what is wrong, he tells you why - & how to fix it.
We simply can not see what others see in our work because we are emotionally invested. We know what was there @ the time and the place ( atmospheric conditions) or we are intending to convey an emotion - but are missing a few important facts to provide to the viewer.
With the emotions you carry, you may simply not see that your image looks like the inside of a dog's ear to others.
Our Artistic endeavors are for visual pleasure - in most other careers critiques are to save some one's life or to protect their interests.
As a member of photography forums for over eight years, I used to be like mike. Nice, helpful, but straight to the point; i.e. what some call "blunt". But most importantly, correct. (Mike knows he's correct, too, dontcha' mike?)
My intent was to sincerely help people.
Didn't work out. They wore me down. The "we know we're talentless hacks but let's slap each other on the back and make each other feel better" crowd won out.
I no longer do it. If they don't want to grow and get better, to H with them.
"We simply can not see what others see in our work because we are emotionally invested."
The image I posted recently about an image in my head is a good example of this. I wanted to shoot it, I tried for a long time to shoot it, and when I got it I it. Now do I like it because it was pretty hard to get or do I like it because it truly is a good image? I have found out (from my thread) that girls seem to think it is sad.
Great perspective, Janine. *runs out to take a picture of the inside of a dog's ear*
In university there was a printmaking prof who was blunt like that, but very insightful and helpful. Kurt Kemp. He expected us to work our butts off and he didn't take excuses. If he thought your work looked like high school doodles he said so in those words. He pointed out the flaws but in the next breath he acknowledged what you were trying to accomplish and gave suggestions for how you might accomplish it. I took every one of his classes I could, almost changed my emphasis to printmaking. I think we learn more when we stretch ourselves, sometimes too far and let ourselves make mistakes. He encouraged that.
Mike.... well, Mike kind of reminds me of him, LOL.
Well, Mike no longer is as blunt and as he used to be, and he doesn't hurt newbies as much any more as he used to hurt them. And ... he no longer pops tons of his own work as being the non-plus-ultra into his critiques as he used to.
So I can live with Mike's critiques ... in fact, when someone posts a post that just a tiny bit sounds like if he'd ask for a critique I smile and wait until Mike chimes in.
AND when Mike is right he's right. He knows a lot about many things !!!
A quick story about my instructor mentioned above...
He would give us an assignment to shoot and required we put two of them up on the board for him and the entire class to critique. Each image was given a "grade", the A's stayed on the board. Being excited about the class I think I had 8-10 images up there. Not ONE stayed on the board.
I didn't get upset, I kept working. I came in early and stayed late to use the darkroom. I kept putting up 6-8 more than the required number of prints while other students came in an hour or two before class to start, and finish, that days assignment.
Second to last assignment came around and everyone put their prints on the board. Everyone did their critiques and when we were done the instructor said "I am going to go around the room and ask everyone what they think is the best image". Everyone picked their favorite. When they were done he took one of mine off the board and said it was the best. He said the image would probably be, at least, a finalist in a national contest. After class he told me about Photographer's Forum Magazine yearly college competition and encouraged me to enter. I did and as you probably guessed it did end up as a finalist. Top 10% out of about 14,000 images from around the world.
I didn't get to that point in one semester because he was "nice" to me. Actually he was very nice, not just when it came time to critique. Had I given up, had I not taken his advice (about my shots and entering the contest) I never would have been a finalist. In fact, if it wasn't for him I wouldn't be trying to make money on my photography right now.
John, what a thrill! My first U. photo prof did a similar thing for me, though not quite that exciting. She advised me to enter a certain multimedia piece to "the big" annual juried show in San Fran that a student had a chance in hell of getting into, Southern Exposure. I did, and it was accepted. She always had a knack of saying exactly what I needed to hear at any given time...
I think when the artist wants to receive a public opinion/critique, he/she must be ready to get it in any way : if it positive or negative. And if the artist has strong motivation and passion for his/her art, any opinion and critique will be taken for consideration, in order to improve . Personally, I do not mind to receive a "blunt" or "rough" critique on my works if I am asking for as I learn a lot from it and I appreciate the artist who gave me this kind of opinion/critique for his/her honesty and time this artist spent to look at my work and write the critique. I think also, that we are ( artists) need sometimes a "fresh eye" to get a different opinion on our art works, as Janine said, because we can "stuck" in judging of our own art and not see the mistakes and weak points, and in this point receive a strong honest critique is very valuable.
I do not think that Mike's critique can be considered as "blunt" , "rough" or "unpolite". He giving his honest and straight to the point opinion without hem and haw around and any unnecessary flattery and hypocricy, which appreciated more than the honest opinion nowadays.
i'm almost certain that i'm a subject in college in some UK school. no one has yet to come to me,but i've gotten a swarm of people once, all looking for information about me. i was starting to triangulate based on IP, but that would never have worked. i still wonder what that was about. they were looking for a wiki, my age, and stuff like that. it was a bit weird.
Mike's comments are some that I always look for and pay attention to in discussions - especially his critiques. There are others as well that I pay attention to more so than others. Critiques are meant to be helpful and if they are done with sugar coating they won't be helpful. Critiques must be to the point and not beat around the bush. Truthful but not attack personally. It's about the art. Mike's comments are always welcome.
my name is mentioned in threads i wasn't even in. i have threads addressed to me that i have no idea where they came from. i'm glad i never installed that light with the big mustache on it. you know the one, it's like batman, but when they want me they shine the thing into the sky.
John, you didn't mention Mike's last name in your original post, yet we all know who you're talking about. Not too long ago Tony Benet said in a radio interview here in Chicago that you know you're famous when someone mentions your name, or makes fun of you, and we all know who your talking about. Thanks Mike! I usually pass up your comments but what I do read and what is said here about you is true.