The increasing celebration of mediocrity in western society


Something that’s been bothering me increasingly over the last few years is this disturbing trend in society today where mediocrity is applauded and celebrated, resulting in a culture where everyone is told how special they are, where any kind of critical appraisal is increasingly considered inappropriate for fear of hurt feelings - a culture where everyone is handled with kid gloves, resulting in skewed, poorly-developed senses of self awareness and self appraisal of skill.

It’s not that I think we should all be cruelly blunt to one another, as there are certainly both good and bad ways to deliver a critique on a piece of work, but the increasing shying away from any kind of critique whatsoever is becoming all too commonplace. Instead, people are patted on the backs and told to “keep at it”, without being given any real guidance whatsoever. So they do keep at it - and stagnate at that point without progressing.

This is demonstrated really rather perfectly by talent (and I use the word talent in its loosest sense here) shows like The X-Factor and American Idol - we all cringe at the horrendous opening rounds of auditions where people, convinced they’re amazing, embarrass themselves with their appalling performances. And while one could argue these are televised in a somewhat exploitative fashion, the fact remains that those people were bolstered with confidence because they’ve been surrounded by people who have applauded their lack of skill, playing the role of yes-men who who’ve ultimately contributed to that person’s inflated opinion of their own ability.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but you can see this happening on art websites, including this one. Artists post work which is clearly, deeply flawed, but they’re convinced that it’s good. Because of this, their ability to learn is obviously impaired, as you have to be able to recognise and acknowledge your weaknesses if you’re to improve. And yet, to make matters worse, these people are encouraged by fanboy responses, patting their backs and telling them their work looks good, when, let’s face it, their work may actually really suck. I’m not saying this to belittle the people posting these, because frankly I can’t really blame them for not knowing any better when we’re living in a culture that’s telling them they’re brilliant.

Some of you may be aware of a phenomenon known as the Dunning-Kruger effect; for those that don’t, it’s the way in which unskilled people assume they’re more skilled than they are (and, conversely, truly skilled people are often plagued with doubt). Dunning and Kruger’s research demonstrated the inability of an unskilled individual to recognise his/her own shortcomings, essentially because that person lacks the metacognitive awareness to recognise their own lack of skill, resulting in illusory superiority - because indeed one of the most fascinating things about this phenomenon is that not only do the unskilled not recognise their lack of skill, they actually often overestimate it to the point that, when comparing their own work to work that is in fact superior, they rate their own work as the better of the two. It’s that bad.

This cognitive bias, combined with a society that basically stokes it, is ultimately harming artists. I mentioned above that society today tends to treat everyone as a special little snowflake, and this is particularly common when it comes to creativity. Now, don’t get me wrong - I think creativity is extremely important and I think that pursuing creative outlets is good for people, generally; people should definitely be encouraged to indulge their creativity - after all, kids are pretty creative and I think modern schooling systems often beat the creativity out of them. But that’s another discussion altogether. The point I’m getting at here is that we now live in a society where every shitty photo on Facebook is given loads of thumbs up and “wow, amazing!” comments, “artists” like Tracy Emin and Damien Hirst are given the Emperor’s New Clothes treatment in response to every piece pretentious, talentless garbage they produce, and every kid with a laptop and Frooty Loops is suddenly a musical genius.

If everything is art, then art loses its meaning. It’s like if everyone is special, then the word special ceases to mean special, because it just becomes the norm. See, it’s not that I care that people are posting “wow” comments to strangers’ work. It’s that this attitude is ultimately devaluing art. If every kid with a cracked copy of Photoshop and a Deviantart profile is suddenly a graphic designer because they’re making “cool” signatures and avatars for people, how are the truly skilled designers supposed to make a decent living? If every person with a blog on Wordpress is a cool, modern guerilla journalist, how are real journalists meant to earn a decent wage? If every person with a camera is the next Cartier-Bresson, then how are truly skilled photographers meant to persuade their clients to actually pay for their work? £500 for a wedding photographer?! Your cousin Sid just bought one of those fancy cameras with the detachable lenses and can shoot the thing for free, surely. Taking photos isn’t hard!

One could argue that real skill will ultimately triumph but the reality is this isn’t always the case. Rebecca Black’s Friday sold 43,000 copies. Okay, it could probably be argued that some of those sales were for the comedy novelty, but you can bet there were plenty of people out there who thought it great - hell, even the most cursory search on the web will reveal thousands of other truly unskilled people, often with websites that look like they’ve stepped through a neon time portal from the days of Geocities, making money doing shitty work that’s nevertheless considered good. Because when mediocrity is the new excellence, then how does anyone even know the difference between the good and the bad anymore?

And don’t get me wrong here, I’m not an elitist about art. I fervently believe, for example, that anyone can learn to draw - I absolutely hate the common belief that some people are “born artistic”, and that without this innate ability, you’ll always be hopeless (yes, people are born with certain aptitudes, but nobody emerges from the womb with the ability to paint like Da Vinci, because the skill itself still needs to be developed). I believe that anyone who puts in the time and effort can develop artistic skills. It’s just that most people don’t. Of the entire population, it’s a very small minority of people who’ve actually put in the time and dedication to master their various mediums and disciplines, to become good in their artistic fields. And I think that, just like someone who goes to university and spends years studying law to get a good job as a lawyer, someone who puts in that time to develop and master artistic skills also deserves to be able to make a living putting their skills to use.

Invariably, when bringing up this topic, someone crawls out of the woodwork with the tediously inevitable “all art is subjective” chestnut. Sorry, but no, I don’t buy that. There are some things in the world of art that are objectively shite. While taste may indeed be subjective, anyone looking, for example, at the notorious Gallerie Abominate website from way back when, can agree that the work on display there is simply awful. Because as much as we like to appear all progressive and modern with out “anything goes” attitudes, there are reasons why some things are considered more aesthetically pleasing or artistically successful than other things. There’s a reason why the photos at look better than your snaps from your last holiday, just as there’s a reason why Caravaggio’s paintings look better than those of a bored and lazy high school student forced to paint a still life, so let’s not pretend otherwise.

My concern is that if things continue in their current vein, in a few decades we could end up with a world where the truly creatively skilled can no longer stand above the tide of mediocrity that’s swamping them, and that people may no longer be able to make a reasonable living in their respective creative pursuits. I worry that art will lose its meaning to the point that we won’t recognise excellence anymore, instead surrounding ourselves with meaningless creations that no longer truly inspire or provoke. I also fear that those with real potential are being impeded by feedback which doesn’t challenge them to improve, which instead encourages them to be complacent with the level they’re currently at, or, worse, inflating their egos to the point that they begin to suffer from the illusory superiority I mentioned earlier, which is even more destructive than mere complacency. Do we really want to live in a world of Dunning-Krugers?

What are your thoughts?


On a somewhat related note, this really great moment from God Bless America really struck a chord with me:

Obviously this strays into other territory too, but it’s worth watching and thinking about.


I definitely agree. Especially to the point about people who want to get better are held back by people not giving them good critique. When I was in college I was the only one who came in there having spent time learning 3D on my own, everyone else had just started and so my work was much better than what they were able to do. It was really annoying then to receive praise for things I knew to be not very good just because other people in the class were so far behind. I really didn’t learn much in my animation classes that way.

In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone except for skilled professionals online that weren’t easily impressed by simple things.

Kind of makes you wonder though, how there’s a lot of people that are so critical of CG work in movies yet they turn around and tell someone that they’re crappy work is wonderful.


I hear ya but don’t think this is anything new, just that the world’s stage is easier to jump on with the world wide web, youtube and other free services of the sort. There is definately an over saturation of crap- crap music, crap movies, sequels, prequels, and so on with the easy ability to push it. Although this is a growing trend at the moment I do believe it will level off or maybe regulate itself. You may be aware of this, I may be aware of this trend but most kids or oblivious followers aren’t or don’t take the time to become so until they’ve already invested in the notion.

There seems to be different types of artist: Natural (born good at it), Mechanical (Mr Perfect lines that somehow reproduces certain themes to perfection), and Generalist (Sort of good at all of the core concepts and manages to get by)- Yes this is just my perspective however limited.

I am tired of going to local art shows and observing the popular tents to be full of simple splashs of solid color or cliche themes (here it’s alot of palm trees, waves and flowers BLUGH, tired of it) ALTHOUGH there is a local artist that caught my eye who paints these very themes but does so in a UNIQUE WAY using just a knife and oils- I can’t afford it of course LOL

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so basically if the majority of the population enjoys looking at a classical vacuum cleaner painted neon green and called the greatest thing since Andy Warhol or enjoy some new artist that basically copies and pastes with minor alterations then guess what- they become the bread winner.

But I feel in my heart of hearts that true art- true unique good art will always eventually surpass that and have longevity- the key being that the artist can sustain and once gets the world’s attention can hold it. Sometimes an inspriation only lasts briefly for any artist.

I think that the majority of the population is clueless or careless when it comes to art or anything other than their own specialty.

We are also at the unfortunate mercy of the Corporate Monster- Have always been and probably always will be. We are a consumeristic society- USA was grown on it and made sure that the mold was set for the rest.

Perhaps Computers/TECH have given too many a false sense of PRIVILEGE-

Like everyone and their dog wants to see a vid clip of them pooring milk on their head!

A real trend that appearently is growing LOL.


You and I rarely see eye-to-eye.
But I will agree with most of what you said (with the exception of Rebecca Black. I never heard A SINGLE person consider her brilliant or talented. Maybe her mom).

I won’t go into politics- I’m sure we’ll part company real quick, but I will be vague: I consider this mediocrity a natural side effect of the progressive nature of the siciety we have been pushing for. We keep making big, grandios movements to equalization(s)… to social justice(s)… the ever leveling playing field(s) and more compassion for the sake of getting a warm fuzzy and a self congratulatory pat on the back.

I’m sorry, but in a pursuit of excellence someone must come in behind. Always. Not everyone is equal or the same (and we shouldn’t always want it); toes will be stepped on, sharp elbows will bruise ribs and people wll be offended.

It’s a society where success is often punished, and instead of bringing the lowly up we level things by bringing the higher down. We create different sets of standards and call it all achievement as if all goals are met equally- but that dishonesty is what we call “social justice”.

The rest is good marketing and promotion. I’d like to know how often I have seen positions where I or someone else was suited for a job, but the doofus that was hired better marketed themselves. When their own mediocrity became apparent, employers just rode it out for the expense of training rather than push for excellence and replace the person with something better.

How did Orci and Kurtzman get to write some of the most financially successfull movies made? Some see STAR TREK as being great- but I see flashy VFX and an incredibly flaccid story.

The above rant doesn’t relate to art specifically, but societal things in general. Artistically speaking I just pass over content that I thing doesn’t measure up and only comment on that which I personally think is good. I see this trend as opportunity for true excellence to shine with less competition.


While I do applaud the topic selection, I am confused about it’s central point. It seems to have a few of them.

  1. “Skilled art” not always making money

I think the actual content of media is only but a small fraction of what matters. The real chunk of what matters is, and always has been- marketing. You can produce absolute shite, draw a square or make an atrocity of a song about Friday and convince people it is gold. There is a huge social aspect to media consumption/art appreciation where people will bend their views of what they like if their friends or idols do it. This has everything to do with our brains being wired to live in groups- our sense of what is beautiful is shaped since childhood by people around us. Gangnam Style would’ve never made any splash was it not for a few key celebrities mentioning it to their fans. The word “viral” is an interesting one, it does suggest that “art” may just be a sensory virus :slight_smile: Which brings me to the next point.

  1. Objective beauty

I have to disagree here. As I hinted in previous point our view of what is beautiful is shaped over time, gender, age, and culture and not inherently same in everyone. You argue that some skilled art is objective. There are components which are objective- like photorealism (it’s either accurately shaded/viewed or not) and proportions (anatomically correct) but what appeals to people visually does not always correlate with these.

Bottom line is- if 10 people honestly like a drawing/photograph/song and 1 person honestly dislikes it, it is not objective by definition. You cannot measure it so it will always be subjective.

  1. Hopeless people being encouraged

Yes, it is bad. But it is only bad for the hopeless person being encouraged. I sometimes watch a show called Dragon’s Den (Shark Tank in US) where people pitch business ideas to investors. They show some people come in having the worst, most hopeless ideas, which they worked on for decades and spent their families fortunes on plus massive debt. Why they kept going on what is obviously a hopeless idea? Because their friends and family members encouraged them, telling them “you can do it, just believe in yourself”.

This type of thing happens all the time, but the only victim here is the person being encouraged. Hey, if they can still sell their stuff and get money for it it means they are good markers (refer to point #1) and it is fair game.

In general your point of “bad art diluting the good stuff” doesn’t make much sense. We are a servants to our society because that is where our money comes from. If society doesn’t appreciate your work either make something they like or convince them that your work is good. Because it is all subjective you can actually convince people of that.


That’s probably the key. Thankfully, you do not have to be the best or the greatest talent to make a crap load of money at it either or to be excessively successful. I know plenty of super talented people that can’t support themselves with their talent and those with horrible skills that seemly know how to rake in the cash.

I think everything comes down to luck and how you sell yourself. If you can sell yourself as “PURE AWESOMENESS” and can be extremely successful, more power to you. To be honest, when I look around this site, I can’t believe how fortunate I have been to support myself for over 22 years and now support of a family of 6 with what talent and skill I do have. I use this site for motivation and inspiration. I could not compete in the film and effects world, but I do really well in my niche business and can say I’ve fared far better than many others in more glamorous fields with better skill sets.

When I was starting out as an illustrator, I had incredible mentors. They always told me to be a “Primma Donna” and act like I was the hottest thing on the market. At the same time, I was a student hot air balloon pilot and my flight instructor always stated “Say it with confidence and do it with authority”. When I was in Amway, I learned many people were cattle and sheep and “go-getters” must move through them like wolves and with the audacity of a thick skinned rhino.

I even met a very successful fine artist that knew a painter that sold a gessoed canvas for $1 million bucks. I asked him how he pulled that off and he said because the painter was a pompous ass with a superiority complex and insanely wealthy people would buy it because no one else would and it would make them eccentric.

So basically, F* mediocrity and what people think should be the standard. Break rules, go around rules and make your own rules. After all, rules are only meant to control people and keep them in their place. Stake your claim and take what is yours. No one else will and whether you deserve it or not does not matter. You only get one go around in this life. In the past 22 years, I’ve always had someone trying to cut my legs out from under me at jobs. I’ve wasted most of them and have fallen to none. It may seem like a screwy mentality, but it comes from playing sports and always competing for a position and literally having to kick someone’s ass to keep it. Again, it’s a tough business, whether it’s art, sports, law, medical or whatever. Kick ass and take names and don’t worry about whether you are good enough or if you are watering down the quality of everything. The more mediocre everything is, the easier it is to kick it in the balls and step on it on the way up. If you’re not smoking the trail, then someone else is smoking it and leaving you behind to complain.


The internet has really tipped the scales. And set them on fire. Then blown them up with C4. Then defecated on the ashes. And filmed the whole thing for an audience of knuckle-draggers. Youtube, Facebook, and similar sites have all but eliminated attention spans and any sense of personal shame.

Decent feedback I think is a skill of its own, but the ability for anyone to post anything from anywhere at any time means there are way more people that just don’t have the ability to give or receive constructive feedback. Now it’s as if anything that isn’t praise is either “hatin” or “trolling”, which is then either ignored or devolves into a good old flame war.

Above all else, though, Hollywood is always looking for a quick buck with minimal investment. So when some suit sees a talentless hack making a small fortune by making a fool of him/herself on Youtube… well, surely that talentless hack must be on to something. The suits then chase after the money, looking for the next godawful train-wreck to cash in on, until we end up with “Honey Boo-Boo” on the freakin LEARNING CHANNEL. :banghead:


New policy: Every image uploaded to the gallery gets a CGSociety Award trophy badge. :rolleyes:


But don’t most of your examples show that while these people may have a misplaced confidence, they aren’t successful?

Yes the tone deaf people on American Idol come in way too confident, yes they were probably told by family and friends they were good, but then the judges tear them apart and nothing ever comes of them.

You can always point to no talent hacks making it big, but history is full of those. History is also full of hugely talented people that were never recognized in their lifetime, and it’s full of talented people who were. Same as today.

Honestly I agree in a hobby/school setting I think art schools are waaaay to gentle to students. But when it comes to the professional world, I don’t see this happening whatsoever. I see people who are no good never getting jobs. I see freelancers come in, do some mediocre work, and then are gone the following week. I get harsh, disheartening but then motivational, blunt blunt blunt critiques very often. I am willing to bet in your very extensive experience you have as well.

I disagree that this is having an impact in the professional world. At least any more than it used to.

God Bless America was just a guy on a soapbox complaining that today people are stupid. Sure it was entertaining, but I find this mind set extremely tiring. Really, he focuses on the American Idols while completely ignoring the Breaking Bads. He focuses on the Twilights while completely ignoring the Game of Thrones. He focuses on the Rebecca Blacks why ignoring the Sigur Ros’s. He completely disregards the fact that there are still incredible works of art in entertainment, and that the masses are eating it up. (aka, the works of genius are not all being ignored by the general populous)

Were the mobs watching a man torn apart by tigers in the Colosseum really watching a higher form of entertainment than Honey Boo Boo?

And as far as friends and family boosting someone confidence, do you really believe this is a new phenomenon? It’s awkward to tell a friend their work sucks, this has always been the case. If you want real critique, ask a potential employer, ask someone who will have some stake in your capabilities, then you get the wake up call you need.

Like I said, in a school setting, yes, this is a problem, but really it’s a problem for the student, not for society, cause these kids getting praised for bad work are only being set up for failure, same as those weak singers on American Idol.

Leigh I guess my question is do you really see a diminishing level of quality in art today? In other words, are you unable to find art or entertainment made in the modern day that can rival art made decades ago? (popular or not, cause good and bad stuff have always been popular, so let’s remove that factor) If the answer is yes, then we simply disagree and chances are you just have a more refined palate than me :slight_smile: but I guess I just don’t see where you’re fear or concern are coming from other than lame reality shows and coddling critiques on these forums.


Yes, and or even better, a Jersey Shore epic trip. You can watch it go on by or figure out how to cash in. Unfortunately, if you come up with something really intelligent and ingenious, it will probably get ignored.

On a much smaller scale, back in 1998 I was making royalities for t-shirt designs. I thought I came up with some decent stuff. I averaged only about $5k extra a year. The owner of the print shop was averaging over $50k a year producing copying machine art. He would literally copy photos out of a book of kokopellis and literally cut and paste designs on a copying machine. The masses would buy that crap up at the tourist shops. He showed me how to do it. At the time I was just too proud (or stupid) to copy his success.

…and how about the other societies besides “western”? Pretty much, crap is produced internationally. I don’t think any location or society is exempt from stupidity or celebration of something completely worthless.


I think a certain percentage of society will always celebrate mediocrity. Look at Punk in the late '70s. We are told it was a vital movement that ‘blew away the barriers and said that anyone could become a musician’. Or possibly was it a bunch of art school dropouts that could barely play their instruments and used image to compensate? To me the Sex Pistols were the Tracy Emin and Damien Hirst of their day. Ok, maybe that’s harsh, and I will concede that they had one or two songs that made interesting points lyrically, but most of their output was just crap if you analyze their music from a rhythmic or harmonic standpoint.

 The Dunning-Kruger effect is interesting. Is it a matter of the old idea of 'you don't know what you don't know'? I know that the more I've studied my field of interest (animation) the more I've come to realize just how bad my early attempts were. When I started first I was excited to see something moving around in any sort of way that suggested it was 'alive' but as I've studied and practiced I've realized how many principles it lacked and my eye has developed to where much smaller errors are now glaringly obvious to me (I hope that will continue of course!). 

Part of what has led to that growth has been attending an online school and having my work ripped apart by someone with many years of experience. I just had a crit session today in fact and at one point my mentor said ‘Sorry, I’m giving you a lot of notes here’, my response was ‘that’s what I’m here for’. A big part of why I started that course was that I was posting stuff on forums and getting responses like ‘hey that’s cool’ which while nice, wasn’t pushing me to improve. So yes, I agree that criticism is vital as long as it’s constructive. Those who don’t get used to that are in for a nasty shock when they meet their first client/director etc.

 As for the Honey Boo Boos and Pop Idols of the world, well it just doesn't bother me. Leave them have their car crash TV/televised karaoke if they want, it has no effect on my life as I simply don't watch it. There is still beautiful and exciting art of all kinds being made all the time, the fact that you have to go looking for it isn't such a bad thing IMO. In a way it makes it feel more special when you do find something amazing that really resonates with you.


Interesting topic.
I believe that this problem is just a symptom of the Disease of “forced equality for all”
that appears to have been successfully imposed by Western Liberal social Engineers and the numerous, Entitlement minded, marginal performers who benefit from any lack of real objective performance standards .
(School teachers, College “professors”, career politicians).

The great irony is that the people who’s need is most desperate for critical review, are Coddled, hand held and outright subsidized yet those
who have proven track records of success
,Like Apple, can post a quarterly profit in the $$BILLIONS$$ and have reported as their presumed Death knell as it failed to meet the “expectations” of some gamblers in New York.



We are not created to receive critics. It goes against our nature, and tells our instincts it’s a humiliation. When someone gets an unasked advice, it’s a state of superiority of the person giving it, so the person feels humiliated (on the levels of instincts, so it’s feelings level). And though on the Internet a person posts and asks honestly for an advice, the status of those replying is not big enough for the person to get an abrupt harsh truth (it’s like most people have physical flaws, but we don’t want to hear it from a stranger. Even if we would do, and ask “how do I look” such replies could be too aggressive for our mind and it starts to defend). In other words, the first thing our mind does is checks if the person is high enough in our rank to say that, so we can validate if it’s the correct information. And yet it seems like an aggression for the reasons I mentioned. To bypass this mechanism, we can use different techniques:

-say first good things. There’s always something good to mention, be it even intention of the person. It’s very hard getting critics when you get started and get a lot of pressure just from studying.
-criticise not the person himself, but what he does. It’s a vital separation, but mostly people preceive like they’re being accused. At least you can say “you’re a good person, but what you did could be improved” for example, very shortly.
-don’t say things like “awful… sucks” etc. It also goes about not being too harsh, which may seem like “giving a good lesson for this rookie”. I know I did it and it’s easy to persuade ourselves it’s a good thing, but it’s sadism.

There are different ways of putting critics pain-free:
-praise-critics: “your work is done wel mostly, but not the this time.” “It’s getting better, but still needs more work”.
-not aimed at person: “Your work is very bad” isn’t the best way.“The work could be improved” is much better and is of the same meaning.
-worry: “I’m worried that your work is going in the wrong direction”. Better than “your work is going in the wrong direction.”
-empathy: “I understand your feeling, but imagine how much could you improve if you’d take a break and see it with a fresh mind”.
-being sorry: “I’m sorry to admit, but it seems you made a mistake”. Better than “you made a mistake”.
-amortization: “it’s just a usual omission, I’m sure you’ll get it better.” “Probably it could have been planned better”, rather than “you could plan it better”.
-hope: “that’s fine, you’ll make it better the next time!”
-analogy: “I had the same problems with colors, I’m sure you could improve by…”
-question: “probably we could agree the work could’ve been done better. What is your plan?” “What are you going to do with improving the composition? How about…”
-Compliment-critics-compliment: “Nice colors! The compositon could be a bit improved. But the modeling is very good!”
-humorous “wow, this model looks like it’ve been pooped out” (haha, sorry, didn’t come with a humorous critics. It shouldn’t be offensive, and I think there’s a way).

Being constructive Avoiding generalizations: “ah, nice! Bring it on! Hurray! Sucks” etc. And critics should be constructive, as it goes one from the other.
-Not being categoric. Softening the words with “a bit, a little, could be, perhaps”.
“In the last time…”, “it happens with some of your works…” “sometimes it seems to me you…”.
-avoiding “you”. It’s better saying “it seems to me the proportions could be improved” rather than “you are wrong with this one in proportions”. Your reaction “I feel…”, “I guess…”. You could talk about he desired outcome “I hope you improve with the lighting. You could…”. “I believe you’ll get better if practise with anatomy. I know good resources…”. But if you ask the person with provoking him to think, you could use " don’t you think it could be improved? Maybe you could…"

-Asking at the end “what do you think?” is a nice touch to get the person involved and feeling not too pressured with critics, giving him the voice and equal, rather than lower, status in the conversation.

So I think it’s both sides being guilty in some regard: one of not being able to accept the critics or being defensive, accusing and not thankful, and the other not being able to properly give it.

Accepting critics is another thing. You shouldn’t debate if the person is wrong, but always thank for the time and effort. Even some great artists don’t say anything at feedback, which is quite blatant doing so (sometimes I also do so, and I’m sorry for this, though I don’t consider myself a great artist yet). There’s nothing hard with “thank you, I will think about it”. You should deliver you will think, so you’ve heard and you appreciate it. And you shouldn’t actually make it if you have said it, it’s up to you and it’s normal. Just don’t ignore. Or you can say “maybe you’re right, but I will make it perhaps differently” if the person insists.

Professional environment may be very abrupt, but I’d compare it to professional fighters: they can take the hit very hard and still stand on, but the usual person would simply die. Also there’s no time for sugar-pilling and the information should be passed quick and fixes made. But it’s not the appropriate way for unprofessional or learning artists. So always think who you’re talking with. But, I rarely give critics to works that are not interesting… sorry guys, but work some more to deserve it.


I feel the same. If I see something posted that’s just all kinds of wrong my first thought is ‘where do I start?’ and I really don’t feel like writing an essay for someone who, as far as I can tell, might not be trying very hard. On the other hand if someone posts something interesting or promising then I get the impression they are making honest efforts to achieve something and I feel like getting involved and trying to point out areas where the piece could be even stronger. If I’m honest, because I’m hoping others might do the same for me. A fresh eye is very valuable, no matter how experienced you are and we all get blind to our own work at times.



I agree with a lot of what you said, Leigh. Seeing the dysfunctional, and self-indulgent ego-maniacs on reality shows who are revered as celebrities nowadays is a perfect example of how mediocrity has become something to celebrate. It’s kind of unsettling!

Apparently, Brad Bird must share similar concerns about society’s celebration of mediocrity. It’s alluded to several times in THE INCREDIBLES.

Dash: You always say ‘Do your best’, but you don’t really mean it. Why can’t I do the best that I can do?
Helen: Right now, honey, the world just wants us to fit in, and to fit in, we gotta be like everyone else.
Dash: But Dad always said our powers were nothing to be ashamed of, our powers made us special.
Helen: Everyone’s special, Dash.
Dash: [muttering] Which is another way of saying no one is.

Bob Parr: "It’s psychotic! They keep creating new ways to celebrate mediocrity, but if someone is genuinely exceptional… "

Syndrome: “Oh, I’m real. Real enough to defeat you! And I did it without your precious gifts, your oh-so-special powers. I’ll give them heroics. I’ll give them the most spectacular heroics the world has ever seen! And when I’m old and I’ve had my fun, I’ll sell my inventions so that everyone can have powers. Everyone can be super! And when everyone’s super… NO ONE WILL BE.”

I’m also reminded of what someone once said, “Mediocrity is the only behavior above suspicion.”


This is something that I definitely agree with and I have seen it first hand in some of my classes over the past few years. It is something really bugs me especially when I am told that my own work is great when I know it isn’t because I didn’t put the time into it.

I pretty much taught myself After Effects in high school and got a job doing animatics not long after graduating. It was a couple years later when I started at the college I am about to graduate from so I had an advantage over other students that I added to by learning 3D about a year before my first class.

In an online 200 design class at the end of my second year, we were given an animated text project in the form of a website banner. At the end of the project, I critiqued another student’s work by sharing my honest opinion as it was part of the grade. Now this student had a decent concept that, if I recall correctly, involving the word falling letter by letter from the sky. What she turned in was very different, made no sense, and was nearly illegible. I told her this and gave her another way to do the project, the way I would have approached it.

The result was a an email from the instructor scolding me for being harsh saying that he would never say that to a student that early into the program and that I was out of line. In addition to that, the student submitted maybe 1 other project the rest of the quarter.

Personally, I don’t think my work is critiqued enough and I am tired of just hearing that my work is good.


Yep. The only way if you work solo is taking a good break. As mostly amazing art is produced by a team, which gives a very valuable feedback to you after you’ve been looking at it 200 hours long.

Back to the others points:
Devaluing and, as rightfully being said, equalization (a nice term for those processes, which we should perceive from the scientific point as a good standard of thinking) of work of photographers, 3d-designers and so on is a natural process and it’s not because there are many people having access. It’s just the technology changes, not people. I think it also has good points, like some areas become not as elitist and giving access to almost anyone who has talent. And I like th idea X-Factor gives hope not only to young and good-looking. I like that many young people have their photos edited to fashion-like magazines, feeling like they touch their dream and are not as distant from it as it was to pre-digital era.
I think that equalization is a good thing for mental health of people, giving them the right to voice their opinion based on intelligence (hey, I wouldn’t have being able even to post here, probably wouldn’t even hear anything about anyone from other countries, living in the slums of a poor country). Right now I’d like to mention, that it’s not just the intelligence, but also other values, which don’t fit into classical aesthetics. But there are new criterias, other than beautiful, ugly and so on. Those are “new”, “hyperlinked”, “labyrinth”, “bodyness” and so on. Also the factor of being famous also goes to our instincts, and is not something people can easily ignore. As we know something famous can’t get being one if it’s not strong enough to stand out (though it’s a false thing today, it’s still working). "“There is a huge social aspect to media consumption/art appreciation where people will bend their views of what they like if their friends or idols do it. This has everything to do with our brains being wired to live in groups-” - I totally agree to it. And I like those trends. It’s not something new, but it’s yet to be accepted as something, which also matters as much as being beautiful or aesthetic. People now participate in art themselves, posting different stuff, and I also like it. Mentally it’s better “you can if you want” rather “you can’t”. Most people won’t try too hard anyway, if it’s not something of their true passion (but they will know they still have this freakin chance. Give them at least a hope damnit). So professional people need to market themselves hard (a good point brought by others here).

Leigh said" And I think that, just like someone who goes to university and spends years studying law to get a good job as a lawyer, someone who puts in that time to develop and master artistic skills also deserves to be able to make a living putting their skills to use." - unfortunately, many branches of development die, change or devalue. Deserving something even if you’re talented is not the case in life. The person needs to fight his way to what he wants.

Leigh said
"My concern is that if things continue in their current vein, in a few decades we could end up with a world where the truly creatively skilled can no longer stand above the tide of mediocrity that’s swamping them, and that people may no longer be able to make a reasonable living in their respective creative pursuits. I worry that art will lose its meaning to the point that we won’t recognise excellence anymore, instead surrounding ourselves with meaningless creations that no longer truly inspire or provoke. "
Probably there will be some mechanisms to equalise that as well, like X-factor. Like, is someone does something creative (writes and sings his own song), it gets at least 10,000 views for free, and people will support it at free will. Also consider Kickstarter and other possibilities. I think we get a lot of good in this direction, isn’t it?

About people being equally talented, it depends on what talends I suppose. Some children may be very thinking and analyzing, and the others may be very firm and active. Those are a bit different kinds, an it’s partially genetic (at least the second type hardly can and wants to become the first one. It’s those who you hate in the offices, and who become bosses, rather than scientific workers in 3d field. Those are not badm they just fit to different positions, if some acpects combine well. And it’s not often the case).

““Perhaps Computers/TECH have given too many a false sense of PRIVILEGE-”” - it’s who pays decides in the end. So you can be supertalented classical music player, but if you don’t adapt, you won’t get famous simply because it’s not your time. Time is changing, and what was cool 100, 500 an 1000 years ago differs greatly. Time changes, and we will pass away with our idols, values and the new will come. We can’t be new and in demand always.

"“In general your point of “bad art diluting the good stuff” doesn’t make much sense. We are a servants to our society because that is where our money comes from. If society doesn’t appreciate your work either make something they like or convince them that your work is good. Because it is all subjective you can actually convince people of that.” - that’s a bad thinking fo marketing ourselves, but good for understanding there never been art appreciated by many. It was so confined in what was in demand the more you look back in time. Which definitely exploded in the last several centuries, but not more. Only when we got art being as business investment, we saw “ugly”, “pointless” etc, which expanded those matters and fit them into artistic vision. Now is the time for scientific(?) concepts to this, or rather, trends of expansion, equalization and such.


There’s never been a lack of talentless twits, who think their shit is special. What’s changed is how easy it is for them to receive attention, from other twits, in this age of instant communication and way of mass spreading their crap all around the world. I’m looking at you internet.


I agree, people just post pointless comments with many words which have little meaning at all. Hehe, looking at myself. :stuck_out_tongue: