The 4 Ps of Art: New Pathways for Improvement


We're feeling overwhelmed by the current state of the world, and so we turn to art to find peace. Unfortunately, we often find ourselves in a comparison loop, feeling like we have to reach a certain level of technical perfection in order to be content with our art and find peace.

Last month, I was tasked with understanding the use of members on an Art Feedback Discord channel. We wanted to find ways to improve the experience of both giving and receiving feedback on art pieces. I want to share with you a sample of my findings, which I believe can help reduce emotional load and improve the way we do art.

Disclaimer: I'm an artist, and while I love researching and asking questions, I'm not a researcher. My methodology might be a bit wonky, and my findings may be specific to the Discord server I studied (which had a focus on illustration).

Part 1: Technique is Anxiety

Many of us here are artists in the entertainment industry, and we're familiar with art communities. We've all asked for feedback and critiques in the past, and often the critiques we receive are focused on fundamentals like perspective, anatomy, volumes, and values. We're trained to think that being ready for work is tied to being technically perfect, and this leads to the idea that our artwork is either right or wrong, with no in-betweens. This creates a hierarchy of worth based on technical ability, and it can lead to burnout, anxiety, and depression.

Art is not a race to technical perfection. Asking for feedback and showing a willingness to improve is great, but focusing critiques solely on technique limits the effectiveness of the message. It doesn't encourage artists to develop intention, limits the efficacy and efficiency of the message, and encourages copying and cloning instead of self-discovery.

Part 2: The 4 Ps of Art

Surprisingly, the data I collected showed that artists were mostly preoccupied with four points: Readability, Composition, Storytelling, and Impression. Focusing on giving feedback on these points provides new pathways for improvement.

Readability is the basis of a "good enough" illustration. It's how clear the artwork is, and it should be considered from the audience's point of view. Composition is the fluidity with which we navigate the painting, or how easy it is to read the sentences of a text. Storytelling is how one reads the artwork, and Impression is how one experiences it.

These points are interdependent and can be thought of as a linear progression from beginner to advanced artist, or as a workflow process to ensure the message isn't lost.

Last Words

After two weeks of study, I believe the way we critique our peers' work is deeply flawed. We focus too much on the superficiality of technique, instead of improving the intention of the artwork. Switching from fundamental critique to a holistic point of view can relieve artists from mental breakdown while helping them strive to discover their voices.

If you've read this far, I'm curious to hear your feedback. Do you agree or disagree? Do you have any comments or would like to discuss these points further? I'm all ears and excited to discuss it with you!


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