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Submitted on
May 13, 2013


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We see it all the time these days. An artist posts work-in-progress of whatever it is they're working on and they get instant feedback from their fans. Be it on tumblr, DA, through a livestream session or on their websites, this trend of letting fans critique their work before it's finished is becoming so common place that it's almost expected of us now.

Personally I'm a little torn up on the idea. On the one hand all artists need feedback and critique to improve, and if something isn't right with their work it's much easier to notice and fix while it's in a preliminary stage. On the other hand... a creator logistically can't show the behind the scenes work of everything they do. And if an artist isn't being 100% transparent with their art, it's often wrongly assumed that they're trying to "hide" something.

It's been happening more and more lately, fans of an artist being extremely vocal about how they feel the art should be drawn. And while feedback is important, I also feel that artists need to develop their own styles and drawing personality on their own sometimes... something that can be routinely hindered by having "too many cooks in the kitchen" as it were.

Worse still is when certain fans start becoming more invested in an artist's work than they are themselves, resulting in instances where a fan demands changes to be made because they feel entitled to the creator's work. This is actually a pretty common occurrence, especially when it comes to mass media things like MLP:FiM or Adventure Time.

I'm still a bit of an old school believer in not showing the progress of something till after it's done. If you let fans critique your work from start to finish, the surprise and mystery can sometimes be sucked out of things. A joke is less funny the 2nd time you hear it, so posting a work in progress of a daily strip, for example, probably isn't a good idea since by the time you finish the work you'll have lost a lot of the joke's initial impact.

But I also recognize that in this age of instant gratification, communicating and responding to feedback and criticism is vital and important to an artist's growth and development.

So my question to you all is... what do you think is the best way to have this creator/fan relationship? Do you think that fans deserve to have input on how artists draw or create their work? Can fans become too emotionally invested in a creator's property? Are there downsides or drawbacks? Do the positive aspects outweigh the negative in your eyes?

I don't have an answer to these things, I genuinely want to know what you all feel is the best dynamic. I want to move forward with my own artwork, but I feel hindered by my ideals and want to know where everyone else stands on these issues.
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DTJB Featured By Owner May 28, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Fans can give a creator input, but no fan is a creator of someone else's work.
Mro-sen Featured By Owner May 20, 2013  Hobbyist
I believe that the creator should create for the creator, and the reason that his or her fans like the creator is because of what they create. If the fans change what the creator creates, it defeats the purpose of being a fan; the fan would become the creator.
Those fans should create their own works of art instead of trying to change someone else's that they already enjoy.
daraku-shita-tenshi Featured By Owner May 20, 2013   General Artist
i believe it's ok to show work in progress, but only sometimes. I personally think that doing it all the time is like trying to make the fans happy just to get their approval and it feels like they're becoming more in charge of what you do, than you yourself. And also, you'll slowly become more dependent of their critique rather than you making something yourself and learning how to critique your own work. But like i said, it's not bad at all, just doing it all the time might be a little detrimental.
juha91 Featured By Owner May 18, 2013
Hmm... I-I think that artist shouldn't show behind-the-scenes-stuff from EVERYTHING he/she does. That might lead to copyright problems and the artist's personal touch deteriorating.

However, I think that it's OK for artist to show his/her works OCCASIONALLY. Not everything needs to be shown all the time, but sometimes it's fun to share the feeling of working on something with fans.

Long story short: artist should aim for some privacy in creation process, but it's okay to share it sometimes (like twice a year or something like that).

And I think that sharing works better with illustrations than comics, since, as you said, joke loses its impact if it's shown before being ready.
SugoiMe Featured By Owner May 17, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I like seeing the final piece first and then the process behind it afterwards. It's really interesting to see the thinking behind a piece of artwork, or movie, or whatever.

As for this creator/fan relationship, I don't spend nearly enough time online to know just how nit-picky or lack thereof people can be. I think that, generally, when critique, thoughts or concerns are requested, they should be given constructively without pointing figures.
Strudel--Cutie4427 Featured By Owner May 17, 2013   Writer
1) There is no "best" or "worst" way to have a creator/fan relationship, previded you use common sence.
2) The fans can have imput, but it's up to the indevidual who created the work to decide whether or not they'll actually listen to it.
3) Yes, but as long as they're repsonsible with what they do there should be nothing wrong with it. There's nothing wrong with giving a character a backstory, or saying you're married to them (just some random examples) but if you get to the point of getting mad at anyone who has a different opinion of a creator's work, that's where problem's start.
4&5) There are downsides to literally anything, and this is no exception, but again, it's up to the creator to decide what they want to do. As long as you're comfortable with how you go about something, then it's fine. But don't do something because it's "cool" or "the done thing" - do it because that's what you want to do.

I understand you're torn over letting your work be seen or not, but I think it should be your own desicion. Maybe you'll give a preview to your fans once in a while for "good behaviour" or maybe you'll want help with a certain thing in perticular. But you shouldn't feel obliged to just because that's what artists do. Take :iconsebreg: as an example, he doesn't show us any of his uncompleted work (or at least I've never seen it) and that's his personal preference.

I don't show everyone everything, but there are certain people I will ask for editing help with, for my stories. That's just my personal preferrence.

The point is - do what makes you comfortable. You are not obliged to show us anything, nor do you have to keep it all secret if you don't want to. I personally would love to see some more of your unfinished stuff, because it's really helpful to me, but I won't force you to do that because it's your desicion in the end, and no one elses.
Starlit-Sorceress Featured By Owner May 16, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
I post behind-the-scenes photos and sketches of upcoming jewelry designs on my Facebook and Tumblr. I would never post an unfinished piece of jewelry unless it was a photo of finished pieces that I only need to arrange.

If someone were to comment on a sketch and suggest a color scheme, I'd welcome the suggestion, but wouldn't feel like I had to go with it.
Anzeo Featured By Owner May 16, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
There's a big difference from telling an artist that their proportions seem off, and telling an artist that the proportions should be drawn in a certain way. Criticism and demand are two different things, and I believe that stepping into the demand zone is an aggressive move for the fan. People love artists, because of what they produce, not because of what they want them to produce. If an artist changes their style it's not up to the fan to decide if it's okay, as a style is very personal, a representation of the artist. Controlling another's art is no different than controlling a person.
rockpopple Featured By Owner May 16, 2013
Seems like a nice problem to have if you ask me.
CrescoTheEKO Featured By Owner May 16, 2013
I believe it depends on 'what' you're creating/being transparant about.
As you've already said so yourself, showing a sketch of an upcoming (monthly or weekly) comic isn't a great idea, but I think showing some WIP stuff of a big comic, eg. character designs, background sketches and maybe a prototype panel layout (like what most professional artists seem to do) is a great idea. It could spark hype and interest for the comic as you're creating it, instead of just 'showing nothing' and expect everyone to be hyped when the comic hits the shelves. (by which time, it's too late obviously.)

So I feel that: Showing WIP art and/or stuff can be beneficial for 'any project', but it's up to you to decide wether you feel it's a good thing to do.
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