Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"Will You Critique My Art?"

I get asked many times each week if I can take a look at someone's portfolio, project, drawings, or paintings and give them a critique. I love teaching. I love giving critiques because it's a way I can help others and feel connected. I love being able to share what I've learned because I get such a high from working on a piece that's working. Probably the best thing about helping someone else with their art is watching them make new discoveries and epiphanies.

The problem is that I just don't have time to help everyone who asks. The internet has blessed me with more connections than I can possibly handle. I have my regular freelance workload and I often don't blog about them due to confidentiality agreements. I am usually working on a picture book - two right now and then there's my personal story writing/illustrating that I try to find time for and of course I'm also teaching both online and at the University and then there's blogging and my family who often get left out. I've been blessed with a wife who supports my daily sanity hikes (pictured above) to get away and clear my head but that leaves little extra time to help those of you who have reached out and asked for help.

So I have to say no to everyone to be fair. Please know that it's not because I don't want to - I love talking shop and sharing my thoughts on your work but most nights I don't go to bed until 1:00-2:00 am as it is. I have set aside time to help people through my new online SVS class because I wanted to be able to present material in a logical way and then work through a project.

Some have said, "Well I just need a few pointers so it won't take long." I've known people to make life altering decisions based on a few remarks. I take each critique seriously and realize that a few careless words could have a long lasting impact - so giving critiques when I'm pressed for time is a recipe for disaster.  I want to feel really good about what I think are the two or three things that will really make a difference in the artist's portfolio - which comes with careful contemplation. 

I also get asked to give paid critiques. Again, I don't have time but beyond that I really like the idea of presenting material through a class because many of the questions are answered through the material and then the critiques are better received and have more meaning.

I hope I have not offended anyone with this message and please know that I love getting your emails, letters, and comments! There just isn't enough time in the day for me to do everything I want to do.


  1. Perfectly understandable. Thanks for your informative blog and good luck with your upcoming books!

  2. LOVED reading this because it is so true! You were right to share this message with everyone and I think it teaches us amateur artists an important lesson:
    If you take "the greats" seriously and if you want to take yourself seriously, chose your investments wisely! Balance your time well and if you value something (such as your own art or a critique from someone like Will Terry) then take the time to really invest the time/money/resources needed to give it what it needs!

    Asking for a quick, free critique is not only thoughtless for the experienced artist's needs, but it also devalues your own art which deserves real time and consideration- not just a free 5 min. look over.

    So... since I am enrolled in SVS, I'd like to tell you about this portfolio I've been working on, don't worry- it will only take a second! (haha just kidding, I don't :p )

    I don't always comment on every blog post you make, but I DO read them all and they always inspire me or teach me something new! Thank you for keeping the blog up despite your busy life- those of us not in your college course really appreciate hearing from you so often about art, life and everything!

  3. I agree with the above post.

  4. I, too, appreciate your sentiments. They are certainly appropriate. I had, for some time, been struggling with angst, thinking that I need to get on the fast track in developing as an artist, or so help me God, I will run out of time, and never live up to my potential. Thankfully, I've eased off on myself, and have since come to realize, I AM an artist as I am. Period. Maybe not in terms of contributing to illustrated literature (yet), but my mindset is that of an artist. My thinking process, interests, interactions with others reflect this. I appreciate clarity of vision certain artists such as yourself display. It's inspirational for growth. Even so, I'm not striving for that level. It won't happen. I'd really like it if it would. It's ok, though. I can improve. That is the point, and the message. Your excellent example as both artist AND educator attest to this. It's an amazing feeling to expand your horizons because of the inspirations of others. I, too, am an inspiration to others on different levels. I love this whole synchronicity thing of living and following hunches, and making discoveries because of opportunities seized upon. That is what connects us all. For me, it's a better feeling than hoping I'll some day measure up to the greats. Speaking of which, could you take a look at some of my work?

    1. Haha - I've actually gotten a few of those sarcastic requests since I posted this - love the humor :)...and thank you for all the kind words!

  5. You are sooooo self-centered, taking care of yourself like that! ;)

  6. Saying no is difficult.

    Terry you already provide so many learning opportunities as it is. I have personally learned a lot from following your blog, being enrolled at Foilio Academy, and watching your videos. Thanks!! You have helped me hone my art in ways that a personal critique could not.

  7. Totally understandable. You must work, in some form, practically 24/7. I think being a freelance illustrator is more time consuming than working a 9-5 job. It's amazing that you still take the time to give back to the community and teach (especially since you already teach offline!). Thanks Will, we all appreciate it!


Feel free...