Learning from criticism

Hello all,

This time I’s seeking from feedback. Here’s my story. For whatever
reason, it appears that I’m the only guy in town whose avocation is
the craft of enamelling on copper and silver. (If I’m not let’s meet).
If you asked my wife she would say I’m obsessed, I just say that I
just keen ;-). My training is primarily in the natural sciences with a
bent towards a little chemistry, physics, and statistics. I’ve learned
a little about the history and theory of art from my wife and tours of
museums and cathedrals in the US and Europe (not all, but the
biggies). Our library has also been a great help. I also was a member
of Toastmasters, and this is key, because it taught me the value of

I sell the occasional bit that I make, either artwork or jewelry (as
wearable art). However, I felt that I’m danger of being in a rut, and
one way of avoiding it would be to obtain feedback by paying a
professional artist and teacher to criticise my work and thus learn
about my weaknesses and possibly overcome them. Well, I asked a well
known artist and teacher to visit, we agreed on a price, and after
looking at my work he asked what I did and I explained. He then asked
the rhetorical question that if he read a couple of Popular Science
magazines could he then call himself a scientist, and since not why
should I be called an artist (I don’t my friends and neighbours do).
It got worse as he explained how he spent six years training to be an
artist, etc. etc. Finally he said that Art was about big ideas and I
only had notions. Towards the end he suggested that enamel coins and
sell them. Believe me I’m not making this up. For this I paid $150.
He hinted that if I attended his private classes it might help me.

So my questions are as follows. Is feedback of the type I sought
necessary? Or should I care? Do you have any comments? After asking
around it appears that the art clubs here have no formal system of
criticism so joining one does not seem to be an option.

In any case, after two days of considering his comments, I stored
them in file 13, the circular file, and went back to my bench, enamels
and kiln doing what I enjoy doing. Perhaps I somehow annoyed him. But
it sure would be nice to get some feedback, my motto being “I am able,
and I hold you as able, and I will tell you my truth as I see it, and
I expect you to do the same”.

I sincerely hope that this note does not appear to be a rant, as this
is not my intention. It is to learn.

Thanks for reading and perhaps adding your comment.

David, in Victoria BC

Yikes. How unpleasant. Your idea – to get feedback – was good.
Perhaps your choice of critique-ers was not so good. After you’ve
healed : ) I’d suggest asking the same of an enamelist.

Northern Illinois

Hello David, When getting criticism, one must consider the source.
Being torn down and made to feel bad about one’s work is only done by
a mean insensitive brut. And you should never pay for that. Steer
clear of arrogant “artists”. I’ve helped many enamelers and goldsmiths
as a teacher without tearing them apart to do so.


I am afraid that I must discontinue this thread.

have been following your postings - and I am becoming a little
concerned about your tone.

Now, allow me to clarify my position on this matter. I do not take
sides on the issues presented within the forum, but it is my job to
monitor and contain the interactions that will then be broadcast
across the form. We have more than 3000 subscribers out there, from
all over the world, with different levels of tolerance, who log in
once a day to read postings on gem and jewelry related matters. It
is not my intent to constrain or censor your comments. It is, on the
other hand, my job to keep the forum healthy and maintain the
integrity of the content.

I must ask you all to excercise some restraint with regards to your

Thanks for reading

The first day I went into apprenticeship, I sat in front of my
mentor, and he started talking and giving me all kind of advice “do
this, don’t do that…” He took a sheet of paper, white, nothing on it,
he just tossed and squeezed it, then unfolded it and showing it to me,
he said: " some people would say this is art. I have just created
something with my hands, but is it art?"

Not everything one creates can be called art.

Art in jewelry has to have: beauty, balance, harmony in lines and
colors, wearability, durability, uniqueness, attractiveness, emotions,

Need some feedback? first ask your customers, if they are willing to
pay for your art it means they like it. ask specific questions: is it
the right shape? would you wear it? Is it too big or too small? do you
like the color combination? do you think it’s too flat? too heavy ?
too much metal not enough metal? too many stones, not enough
stones?.. Specific questions gives you more sincere answers. I had
clients who loved the thing I did " marvelous, exquisite, haven’t seen
anything so beautiful" they said. “Would you buy it” I asked. “No”.
Why? " It’s not my style, I prefer something more classic, something
I could wear easily" they answered. I understood I was making good
art, but not to the taste of everybody. with a little tune-up I
managed to do art people would like. Ask your customers first. Your
family can give you feedback, but it isn’t always objective. If you
want to ask someone who is an artist, listen very carefully: if what
he says seems to be honest and sincere, he is giving you invaluable
But if you feel he’s holding back and he’s not very
sincere, he might be jealous of what you do and would give you wrong

Paying someone for a feedback ! No. You need feedback from hundreds
of people not just one, and it should be free. Just ask for it and ask
specific questions.

Fady Sawaya 3D jewelry designer