Thoughts on Criticism

Although I’ve been preparing to be an artist my whole life, I’m still new to this. For those of you who are new followers, I’ll give you the quick version (if you read regularly, skip down after the break). I graduated college May of 2013 and I was certain I was going into advertising, I couldn’t get hired so I decided I would nanny and draw for awhile and see what I stumbled upon. Looking back, this is the best decision I could’ve possibly made. I started doing commission work for close friends and family and posting my sketches on Instagram. I was getting good feedback so I starting drawing bloggers and tagging them and eventually my drawings started to be reposted by the blogging world. All of the sudden, I had a business and I was drawing whether I felt like it or not. That is the extremely shortened version and in the past six months there have been more challenges to figure out than I could’ve ever imagined. Along with each of those challenges has come an equally exciting victory for me. Along with my business, I work two other jobs to help pay for expenses, while my business gets off the ground and it isn’t pretty at some moments (like I haven’t showered in three days because I literally couldn’t find the time moments).

So now I’m here (wherever that is…I don’t know). Today I posted a tiny little blurb on my Instagram about a critique I received on my work. I didn’t expect people to react as strongly as they did, but I’m glad they did because it really made me think about a few things. First of all, I’ve always been nervous about what people think about my art. Art is such a personal experience for me when I’m creating it because I put so much of myself into it. My mind, feelings and spirit are on that creation in so many ways. Second, I have never been an artist for the money (because let’s be honest, that would be dumb), but now that people are paying me to create drawings for them, I get even more nervous about revealing a project. Third, I would like to clarify that I am overly sensitive about anything that is said about my art, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t think it shouldn’t ever be critiqued. Art is subjective and people can have their own opinions. Lastly, my art is RARELY critiqued. This is the first time I have ever heard a critique about my art, which is why it probably struck me as it did and stuck with me. I never went to art school and I am well aware that is something they have you do all the time is critique your own work and critique others’ work. I definitely critique my own work. I have learned how to fix a lot of mistakes that I make in pieces through different shading techniques but if there is a mistake in a piece, I will be the first person to point it out to you because every time I look at the piece that is what I see. It’s an artist thing. Don’t get me wrong, I love creating and I will develop thicker skin, but in the mean time, I feel the need to defend and protect my work.

Thank you for listening to some artist thought’s that have been weighing heavily on my mind as my work continues to pop up more and more places, I find myself getting more nervous about these things. I am thankful that you are on this journey with me and I would love to hear any thoughts you have about this post.






I’m Katie, the brand strategist, designer, dreamer, and entrepreneur behind Artful Brands. Dreamy typefaces, clean layouts, and soft color palettes are my love language— but more importantly designing strategic brands that book.


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  1. the first time of something negative like this is never fun. and sadly, it may not be the last time it’ll happen to you. believe me – having been in this biz for over 3 years and it never hurts less. however, you do grow stronger and your skin gets thicker over time. you learn to know what is valuable criticism and what isn’t worth your energy to think about.
    but really what it comes down to it is asking yourself where is your focus. is it on your art…because THIS is your passion and what you love to do and that really is all that matters. not the critics or the negativity. you draw and paint and do what you do because you LOVE it – and that is what is important.

    okay, i’m done. sorry about the novel. 😉 keep up the awesome work! you apparently have so many fans rooting you on and that is a huge blessing to have!

    • ryanmkatie says:

      It’s so nice to know that I have someone who has gone through it. I am feeling so blessed that my work has fans and nervous at the same time. Creating makes me so happy so no matter what anyone says, I will continue to do it because I have such a passion for it. I wouldn’t trade the past six months for anything, but it is just all so new to me to have followers I don’t know and I have some anxiety that people can say whatever they want. I have received nothing but praise on Instagram and I’m so blessed to have such amazing support and so many people that would defend my work.
      Thank you so much for your thoughts, they help put my mind at ease.


  2. Mary Ryan says:

    I read your blog because your image was so cool. Once in an art show I was standing near a woman who was looking at one of my pieces and she rolled her eyes as if to imply my work was beneath her. I was devastated until a short time later when I learned that piece sold to a California collector – I was the only person who sold anything in the show. It was a good lesson. I think your work is wonderfully inventive and eye catching – and that’s what it’s all about, right? Seeing! There will always be critics. Ultimately when you feed your own fire, you’re creating light for everyone else.

    • ryanmkatie says:

      Thank you so, so much for your kind words. My criticism also happened at an art show. I think it is such a blessing to be an artist but I wish people that were attending the shows would realize that it takes such guts to present your work at a show because it is open to judgement. It is always nice to hear from other artists about their experiences about critiques. It took me a little while but I think I did use the criticism to get better and not dwell on it. You’re not a Ryan from Janesville, WI by chance?? If so…we’re probably related. I know it’s a long shot but I thought I would throw it out there 🙂

      xoxo- Katie

      • Mary Ryan says:

        Katie – Your dad is my first cousin. Concrete Bill was my dad’s brother. Your Aunt Jill told me about your work. I’ve been an artist for a long time and am truly excited to see that it does indeed, run in the blood! I love your work! It’s fresh and original and fun! Keep doing it!!!

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Meet Your Brand Artist

I’m Katie, the brand strategist, designer, dreamer, and entrepreneur behind Artful Brands. Dreamy typefaces, clean layouts, and soft color palettes are my love language— but more importantly designing strategic brands that book. I believe in creating a life and a business you love, creativity over competition, and designing with equal parts passion and purpose.




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