Tim Sale on critique

“When I was trying to break into comics through the mail, I initially wanted to be an inker, and I would lightbox some pages that I got from John Buscema and I would ink over them. When I learned of the existence of Marvel Age, I submitted my work because they had a part of the book dedicated to new talent. I was accepted. And then they had a working inker critique them. And that working inker was Joe Rubenstein.

I’m biased and sensitive, I’m sure, but I thought the critique was somewhat arrogant and imperious in tone, which is typical of comic book critiques. And I would have said that Rubenstein missed the point of my inks. He used my work as an opportunity to talk about the things that he and Marvel wanted potential inkers and pencilers to pay attention to, which is fine, I suppose, I just felt that he shoehorned my work into external points he was trying to make, and it didn’t always fit…

What I was looking for was constructive criticism. I know it’s a cliche to say constructive criticism, but what that means is not that it shouldn’t be critical, but that it should be encouraging. If you want to get an artist to come to work for you eventually, and do good work for you so that the company can make more money, you need him — or her — to get better. It’s not just out of the goodness of your heart. The way to make artists want to get better is to give them something positive to take away, something to encourage growth.

The pros are so deeply insecure that whatever they say about anybody else needs to somehow reinforce their own position. Having said that, I hate critiquing portfolios, because I remember all too well my own reactions to criticism. It’s a tough thing because you’re being asked to talk about something someone has created, something personal.”

— Tim Sale (via Tim Sale: Black and White)