WHAT IS CRITIQUE?
Before I go ahead and discuss this subject, we must first understand what a critique is - as a definition.
Critique is a method of disciplined, systematic analysis of a written or oral discourse. Critique is commonly understood as fault finding and negative judgement, but it can also involve merit recognition, and in the philosophical tradition it also means a methodical practice of doubt. Critique is an accepted format of written and oral debate. [Wikipedia]
Critique is basically another form of feedback; the main difference being that critique will underline and focus mainly on the bad parts of your work.
Why do people fear and avoid critique? This is a good question and it must be well understood.
A community of artists as big as deviantART is, involves a lot of creativity and hard work.
We all know how much work can last behind a photomanipulation. How much research, how many ideas changed or altered because you couldn't find the right stock, how many attempts to blend a certain thing, that just doesn't want to blend. And this gets harder if you're just starting, and you're not familiar with the tools that your editing software gives you, or you are not familiar with certain rules that photomanipulation has (lights and shadows for example). So after all those tries and hard work, you finally end up with something you like. And you're eager to show it to the community and receive feedback and we all know that feeling, when someone comes and gives you a comment that turns your whole work upside-down- and that's the critique. It awakens fury sometimes, frustration and a bunch of really bad feelings.
This is why some of us avoid critique. Because critique can hit really hard in your self esteem and in your way of seeing yourself. Critique can make you delete the work, and maybe never try doing something similar again. Critique can make you start a fight out of nothing, block people, hate the community. Critique can make you feel frustrated, unappreciated, left out. It takes a lot of courage and a strong personality to accept a critique; but it's also a sign of maturity.
Because nobody is perfect.
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY...
Critique can be harsh, we all know that. Critique can make you quit, we also know that. But behind all this ugly curtain, there's a good in it. So let's focus a little on the good parts of having some critiques for your work.
When you're a beginner, your attempt is to grow and develop. You can't expect to develop if everyone tells you "Nice work" and nobody points out the parts in which you are lacking. You will live with the impression that your work is fine, just like that, and you don't need any improvement.
This is where critique does the job. It will underline the parts on which you still have to work. And you will do, in the following work, and then in the following, and then again... And this is how you grow to be a better artist; because the truth is, there are so many artists that are doing photomanipulations for years - and they never got to develop and grow. Because they blocked anyone trying to critique them. So they live in a "nice work" bubble. And you don't want that, right?
If someone doesn't want a critique, we should all respect that. Certain people have a different ways of functioning, and they need to be encouraged in order to develop. Any critique can make them back up, and sometimes give up - just like that. And this is not what critique is meant to be.
Critique is not given out from envy. Critique is not given by the "smart" people that "try to make you look bad" because you are trying to steal their popularity or whatsoever. Critique is given in order to make you improve. And that's that.
Critique is not the boogie-man that you should fear it will come out of darkness to make you look bad. Critique is the "annoying teacher" you will be thanking later for all the achievements, and your development as an artist.
And you'll end up promoting the critique as well!
Giving critiques like a pro
Sometimes, a very good critique can be appreciated even by those who don't like the critiques. Because, let's face it, critiques make us mad because most of the time they seem harsh, and they are given by people with not the best "critique skills'.
So, if you want to critique, make sure you're a pro first: make sure you read the whole artist comment, before giving the critique & make sure you understand the media/medias used by the artist (if you're a painter, it's hard to critique a sculptor, for example)
don't use aggressive expressions
such as "Man, that shadows look awful!"
don't try to make yourself seem better then the artist you're giving a critique to
such as "Oh, I could do that better then you..."
even if it seems like a copy of something, don't accuse the artist in an agressive way;
such as "Oh, that's a total rip off, you thief!"
never-ever use inappropriate language... It can get you a ban and it's just not right.
don't start a drama, when it's not needed
don't make it sound personal
Do you really want a critique?
The basics of giving a critique.
Finding a critique on dA
The Community and Critique!
Also, make sure to keep on eye on this group, so you can understand more about critiques.