artists hate to hear


I recently shared a photo on Facebook titled “10 things that should never be said to artists”. Find this post here!  The list is not an exhaustive list, as many have been adding their own annoying things that have been said to them.  I have received such a huge response that I decided to post it here, and add some of my personal things that I hate to hear to the list.

What artist hasn’t heard at least one of these annoying comments?


11. How long did it take you to paint that?

Well, all my life… The fact is, a painting does not take just the amount of time spent in front of the canvas. It usually takes a lifetime of training to create great art. In essence, time spent at a painting is the sum total of all the time spent at creating in your life, since every other artwork led up to that one.


12. Can you do a painting just like this one?

If I wanted to directly copy another artist’s work, I would not have went to art school. Besides, such a request is immoral… and illegal.


13. Did you go to school to learn how to draw/paint like that?

Its surprising how many people ask me this. I sometimes hear this from people who I have known for years. It’s a reasonable question at times, especially if coming from an art buyer who is curious about my professional training.

The fact is, people do not have to go to school to become an artist, though it does help greatly. There are many very talented self-trained artists who have been creating for years. Many of the artists featured in the Artpromotivate artist spotlights are self-taught.


14. You charge too much. No one around here will ever buy that for that price.

entwined paintingAs much as I hate to hear this, it is painfully true – at least the second part. My larger paintings never sell locally, mostly because I have to charge seemingly outrageous prices. (I live in a small town of 500 people)

Some of my larger paintings took me months to complete. If I only calculated minimum wage for the time spent creating, my price would still be in the thousands.

My recent works are small… mostly 8x10’s, many of which I have not posted online yet. These are much faster to paint, and take much less materials.

Therefore, I am able to sell smaller paintings for much cheaper.




15. If you were in Toronto/New York/bigger city, etc. you would become famous.

Touch People with your Art - Click Here!These people are clueless to what they are saying. It would be out of the question to pack up my belongings, and my family, and move elsewhere as an artist.

Such a move would only require a pre-existing job to go to. Moving there takes money, and supporting them while I’m establishing myself takes more money.


My only professional training is as an artist, so I would probably have to work all the time at some minimum wage labour job, with no time for creating and promoting art.



16. If I had a talent like yours I would be making lots of money with it.

If these people have some secret or magic trick to sell more art, I would like to know it. The truth is, they would do no better than I am in my situation. I work very hard at promoting my art, and I am making some money selling my artworks and with portrait commissions – but not a lot.


17. If you painted things that people can understand, maybe more people will buy it.

reflections of the pastThis is one of the biggest insults for an artist. They are saying that my artwork cannot be understood. They are also saying that I should only paint for other people, and not myself.

It’s true that in commission work, I paint what the client wants, but my own work is from myself – it will not be changed for anyone.


18. If you become an artist, you will probably have to go on welfare/EI.

Now this is something I heard often when I decided to go to art school. The joke was that instead of drawing pictures, I would be drawing unemployment. Many chuckled at that joke, but the reality is that it is painfully true. Many artists, myself included, have had to go on unemployment often. But, unemployment insurance is not just for artists. People in seasonal jobs here in the fishery have to go on EI every single year.


Now that I have gotten a lot of my frustrations out, it is time to hear from you.

Have you heard any of these comments from others? Do you have any things that you hate to hear about your art to add to this list?

Please state them below.

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  1. #15 and #18 are TRUE!

    As of #13; some people have challenge me like "what gives you the right to call yourself an artist when you didn't go to art school?" (because I use 'artist' as a surfix like other professionsl like Doctor, Engineer, or Cheif, President & so on).

    some would look at a artwork and say "this is NOT art". Others would look at an artwork & instead of saying this is devine or excellent, they would say "this is so demonic" just because it looks too imposible. Some things to make great art, yoi have to be possed or crazy?¿?

    have you heard the "an artist is so poor that he can't even afford a pencil".

  2. Jacqueline Rood LeopoldJune 19, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    I have heard from people, including a fellow art student, "What was your plan when you painted this?" I guess I just don't work like she does - I don't have a plan. The work seems to come from nowhere - at least no place that I can identify in words. The other is, "What does this painting mean?" or "What are you saying with this painting?" I hope that people will view my art from their own experiences and interpretations and share with me what it means to them...beyond giving my work a title, I don't want to "explain" it to people.

  3. #19 Can you paint something to match my couch?

  4. Many of these items make it difficult for me to find the motivation to market my work. I'm the type who tends to think "Why bother." How do I get beyond that mindset? I'm having a tough time figuring that out!

  5. @Ross Michaels
    I think it is important not to take such comments to heart... many people have preconceived notions about artists, just as they do about other groups of people. Being an artist is a struggle... but if everything was easy, would it be the same? True art is about making an impact in the lives of viewers... you cannot do that without getting your art out there for others to see.

  6. @Ife ka

    Yes, I find my biggest struggle is the cynicism I now have towards our fellow human beings, they really cannot understand why there cheap reproduction can't be sold in my gallery after they update their decor based on some quick do-over show! And the flood of cheap replicas that make you feel sick of the sight of former wonderful art movements!


  7. A great read and so true! I agree re the cheap reproductions. A lot of people have no sense of worth for the toil that goes into an artwork.
    Like my fb page - - spread the word!

  8. @Prina Shah Artist
    Thanks!! I visited your Facebook page and followed you!

  9. I get number 13. No I've not been to school until recently; I just naturally draw and paint and have been doing it all of my life.
    And then I receive this proposal, Will you paint something really cool for me? I'll give you twenty bucks.
    Absolutely not! Each of my paintings has a part of me in it. By offering twenty bucks, it's not only an insult, you're asking me to give it away. Sorry, but my art and my talent are not free.

  10. Great post! I was stunned when someone told me I was "prostituting my art" by accepting money for it. As it's my sole source of (not very much) income, I'm not sure whether being on welfare would have been prefereable to him!

  11. @Anonymous
    The next time you hear that ask, "Does a dentist prostitute her/his dentistry by charging for it? Or an accountant? Or a doctor?

    It is mind boggling that people assume you will give your work away.

  12. Someone said to me, "just throw some red paint on a canvas, and you will sell more."

  13. @Graham Matthews Art is not complete until it is viewed and reacted to by some sort of audience

  14. Thanks for writing this! It is refreshingly honest without being overly sarcastic... even better than the original 10 :) Being an artist is not easy, but it does make life a bit more interesting! Number 11 is particularly annoying (How long did it take you to paint that?) since honestly, I don't time myself!! And sometimes I get lost in a painting and have no idea how much time has passed!

  15. You need to add---"Hey you are pretty good! My 7 year old loves to draw, can you teach her?" 1.I am not a certified teacher and frankly, I'm not all that great with kids. 2.Why would you think I could (or would care to) drop everything I am doing to try and teach your 7 year old child to create art? Hopefully her school has an art program and she is learning her basics there. If your kid is showing that much promise enroll her in an artistic program.

  16. I get #17 a lot. I do abstracts and everyone wants me to do animals, florals, etc.

  17. about..."can i just buy the frame?"

  18. I once sketched someone grand parents, using two old worn out photos, redrew and restored them using only my pencil sketch, the job took about three to four days, I mistakenly sent the client an email with the finished sketch attached they said thanks and printed off the email and framed it. I have learned a lot since then.

  19. My all time favorite is "I want one just like that, but in RED!" Of course there is always the abstract artists ususal, "My kindergardner painted one JUST like that last week." And, "How long did it take you to paint that?" My usual answer to that one, is "Why do you ask?" When someone seriously asks for a painting to match their decor, I tell them a large price for the down payment, enough to cover the cost of three paintings and I do make three paintings in their color scheme. Then I take all three paintings to their house and they choose the one they want and pay me the same price over again as the "Second half" of their cost. This seems to work very well, they often buy more than one. When they buy two of the three, that leaves me with one painting that is virtually paid for, so I use it to gift someone who has helped me or donate it to a silent aution for some charity. I have gotten my abstract paintings into some good homes by donations to silent auctions. I just wish these things worked well enough to provide a steady income. Which brings me to my last favorite question. "Have you supported yourself ALL your LIFE doing this?"

  20. @Anonymous
    Yes, I certainly CAN paint something to match your couch ... if your couch is hot pink with gold glitter on it, LOL.

  21. I really hate it when people say: is it paint by numbers?!!!!

  22. @Anonymous

    What an idiot! I guess that means anyone who makes an item/product and sells it, is prostituting their work as well. He just needs a slap.

  23. "i could do THAT" and "what's it supposed to be?" Beyond these two, my least favorite thing to hear is the inane, self serving chatter that one is subjected to as the 'never-was-going-to-buy' 'patron of the arts' regales you with their story about their aunt the artist who they take after and said they should be an artist but decided not become one because there just wasn't enough money in it and how they tried selling Avon and it went pretty well + your work is lovely and if i just had a place for it in my living room (which they had the best designer in town do) they would buy it in a second because they would love to have it but it wouldn't match the color of the room anyway + they'll pass along your name to one of their equally vacuous friends who might like something like that if her husband liked it too ...and THEN, having subjected you to this boring tripe just like the 16 wannabe's that preceded them, you are expected to thank them for the glorious honor of passing your name to their friend who's husband might find your work acceptable, even though they never bothered to get your name.

    That's pretty much the only thing though.

  24. #11 how long did it take to paint this... Thank you it took me 26 years to say 26 years. LOL Here's a question, that rubs me the wrong way that isn't posted. Someone in the community, who knows I am a serious (dedicated) LOL artist says...."are you still painting?". 10% is what happens in life, 90% is my reaction or response. I get the feeling from this question.... "your living with your head up in the clouds...when are you going to give up... you know it's silly" I do but I am weeding through my own lack of faith in my lifetime work and making sure there isn't some of that defeated-ness in my own outlook within. Thank you for a great RANT for all of us creatives.

  25. Look most people have a preconceived opinion of 2d and 3d artist and most of it is not good and Joe and Jill public really are not that interested in 2d or 3d art they may be if there is light attach to it or if they happen to have a original work or sine,ed print of vary well know,en artist .But most of Joe and Jill public may not look at most original or sine,ed print,s of unknown artist as a good investment .That is whey you can see beautiful frame,d original,s out there for sale for 60$ how as artist can we fix this.

  26. Brilliant and so funny as it is all true.

    What I hate to hear is - wow it looks just like a photograph! I used to get that a lot in my early years but now I get it less. I would hate my work to look just like a photo as to me that suggests that it has no element of my own self-expression in it!

  27. "So what else do you do?" Implying that your art amounts to not much more than goofing around

  28. Fiance wants me to draw concept art for him all the time... but with no description of what he wants and when I do draw it its never enough. He wants more and more even though I work twice as many hours a week and support us. Or people at work go... "can you draw/paint blah blah as a tattoo/sofa painting etc... but when I quote just materials cost they want it free or conveniently forget about it.

  29. "How do you expect to make a living and feed yourself?", - family
    "Go do what ever it is you do, go draw something", - mom (I paint murals by the way and she thinks I do nothing) jeez.
    "You know that's not a real job right?"
    "I mean you're good and I know you like to paint but you should probably go to college for a real job."

  30. "How much is it without the frame?"

  31. Too many people do not understand that each thing an artist does is a unique - most often ONE OF A KIND bit of art.
    People balk at buying a set of BRIDAL jewelry at $210 - Necklace/Earrings/Bracelet, ALL hand-tooled spiral theme, made of Sterling Silver, Freshwater pearls and Swarovski crystal. The set is ONE OF A KIND. There is no other set like it. Period.
    It was created from my own two hands, not a machine.
    I'm sorry I won't sell the set to you at $20 because you tell me that Wal-mart could do it for that price.

    Every piece that an artist creates, be it sculpted, painted, jewelry/wearable, whatever, is one of a kind in some way shape or form. Even little things that can be "recreated" such as a specific pose, or a bit of jewelry in a different color, or a landscape in sunset/midday... Each one flows from our hearts, minds, souls, through our body, into our hands and comes out in the final product.

    We are not mass-creation machines.

    If you want something unique or one of a kind you go to an artist. You want cheap replica/mass produced CRAP, go to Wal-mart.

    Do not cheapen an artists work with such insults. You only make YOURSELF look like an ass.

  32. when someone says they/their relative/freind is really good at art but they can't even draw something that looks like a cow used its ass to paint it

  33. Poor artists...the struggle never lets up.

  34. YES. Omfggggg how about the use of the word "just" by the potential client... as in "can you JUST charge me $100 for this MASSIVE commission because it WOULDN'T BE THAT HARD FOR YOU!" EFF YOU potential clients that say this!!!! Painting is not something that EVERYONE is good at!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I swear I wish I did not know how to paint, I wish nobody ever introduced me to art, I wish, I wish, I wish. My heart is broken over this BS with the art clients acting like they're doing us a favor!

  35. Here's another one: "Is this your art?"

  36. Most artists don't make any money until they are long gone. It's something you can't really do like a job. What will you do for a real job? blah, blah.... It takes 10-15 years before a gallery would even consider picking you up. (I don't let this bother me now, I beat the odds and make my own rules, and things are going great for me! Dottie Visker. Visker Art Studio and Designs.

  37. Problems can start artistically with fine art, the moment you decide you are creating for money. Not for those perhaps who are working commissions but otherwise it can kill the authenticity of being true to a vision.

  38. Let's face it. Most people just are not art appreciators. Maybe it is enough if we create art for the experience, and appreciate our own work? I have my art on display in my home right alongside Van Gogh, Chagall and Monet.

    Speaking of Van Gogh, he said:
    “...and then, I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?”

    “What am I in the eyes of most people — a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person — somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then — even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart. That is my ambition, based less on resentment than on love in spite of everything, based more on a feeling of serenity than on passion. Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure harmony and music inside me. I see paintings or drawings in the poorest cottages, in the dirtiest corners. And my mind is driven towards these things with an irresistible momentum.”

    No, Vincent was _not_ just a nutcase as he is often portrayed...

  39. My husband wants me to give away (FREE) my paintings to family and friends as an act of LOVE and APPRECIATION, or as "gifts" whenever he considers. If I tell him that my paintings are a dear creation to me and a very part of me, and I don't want to GIVE THEM AWAY, he calls me selfish and uncaring! I know this is not right, but he does not understand what painting or creations means to an artist. I am very sad by this situation, and I know at some point I will have to stop this abuse. July 27, 2018

  40. I showed this girl my art and she literally called it cringey. There’s a difference between giving constructive criticism and just being plain rude. And that’s why I don’t like to show my art to anyone I just keep it to myself.

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