I haven't posted one of these musing in a long time and I was cleaning out and combining old labels I realized I should post another.
As many of you probably know I belong to several circle journal groups and I also run an art group on Yahoo of the same name as my blog. This musing relates directly to the challenge of saying something to a fellow artist about their work. Namely is it "up to par" or is it "less then successful"? I have had several swaps held on my Yahoo group where a player has contacted me and said they were unhappy with the item they received and should they say anything or am I the bad guy that gets to deal with it? First of all I have to tell you that in these instances it was a swap where I just set up mailing partners for a one on one item swap. I usually do it this way for one item swaps because it's much easier to assign a partner and have them mail it directly. The drawback to this is that I don't see what the persons partner is going to be sending out.
So the question is how did I handle it, what did I say to the person? Well the answer is not a very simple one. First of all it depends on how well I know the person in question. If I have known them for a while and they have actually asked for my opinions in the past I would probably say something. If they are new to the group and I have never really dealt with them I probably will find another solution. In case you're wondering about all of the swaps I have hosted where I physically swap out the art I have never refused an item. Some have come in damaged and I have fixed them or I have contacted the person to see if they mind if I add something to the art to enhance it. In other instances, if I know the player is a "newbie" and the item they sent in reflects that then I try to match like art skills with like art skills when I send them back out. I know some people may not agree with this and feel it should be a random swap out but I think it is only fair to the advanced artists in the swaps that they receive art that they would be happy with. I'd also like to think that less advanced artists that receive art back from the same skill level of a player feel that they are not alone in being a "newbie" and they will be encouraged to continue signing up for swaps. Nothing like getting back a really intricate piece of art and felling dejected because suddenly you realize that what you sent in was not that stellar. (I'm not making any judgements... I am just trying to be fair and see both sides of the coin.)
So you are probably still wondering what the other solution would be to a complaint about a player that I am not very familiar with. I have had this happen to me once when the Yahoo group was only about 9 months old. I knew the person from a previous group who had contacted me about the art she received and I knew that she was probably not exaggerating when she said the art piece was a tragedy. I had her send me the item and luckily I had one that I could send her that I made as a sample for everyone to see what they should be purchasing to decorate. I have to say that the item I received was a bit of a tragedy. Without giving too much away it looked like a 3 year had done it. Now the person that made this tragedy I don't believe is still a member of my group and I think she may have been older and had trouble with her hands... maybe arthritis or something...... the point is that I didn't have the heart to tell her that her art was not up to par. I was just thrilled that this person was brave enough to create something and put it out there in the general public. For many that is a stepping stone that they never cross.
In a nutshell, I believe that I am a teacher at heart and I want to encourage others to create art and learn new techniques to express themselves. I always say that art can be a learned skill (To a point.) There are obviously some individuals that have a natural talent and are just creative no matter what they do. Most people can learn to draw, paint or whatever they choose if they just practice. Art is like any other skill... you have to PRACTICE to get good at it. As one that is a naturally talented artist I can tell you that if I don't draw on a regular basis my skill level goes down. So I guess my message to all of you is this... KEEP PRACTICING!! You will never get to the level you want without practice. Even the great masters were unhappy with their art... that is why they kept making art. They wanted to create the ultimate masterpiece. As human beings we are creatures of always wanting to be better then we were previously.
Please feel free to comment on this musing and let me know if you want me to continue doing them.