8 Things Artists Hate Hearing - Annoying Responses Artists Hear Most Often - art advice

8 Comments Artists Hate

8 Comments Artists Hate


Here’s 8 ways to make your artist friends cringe.  Artists can’t stand it when they hear these 8 annoying comments repeatedly!


Being an artist is incredibly difficult at times.  In a world that demands quick  results and is fine with clip-art, makers of handmade artwork are typically overworked and under appreciated.  There’s also a divide amongst artists and the general public. I have found that the general public frequently doesn’t have anything useful to say about artwork.  I must admit, I’m actually fairly choosy with whom I even discuss art with these days.   This restraint is mostly out of the fear of hearing the same old annoying comments by people who seem the least qualified to make any comment at all.

After interacting with the general public it’s amazing just how often I’ve heard the same old valueless comments in response to artwork.  Without a doubt the most painful experience was when I used to endure the crowds at outdoor art fairs in which I was a participant selling artwork.  So many lovely folks would commonly stop into my display booth to share their insightful words of wisdom.  They seemed ever prepared to talk and far less equipped to listen.  Here are some of the doozies I had to deal with.


8 Comments Artists Hate Hearing


8 Things Artists Hate Hearing - Annoying Responses Artists Hear Most Often - use a ruler

1 I Can’t Draw a Straight Line

Nobody can, at least not without any tools.  If the task of drawing a straight line ever becomes life threatening, consider using a ruler.


8 Things Artists Hate Hearing - Annoying Responses Artists Hear Most Often - art advice

2 It Looks Like a Photograph

If I wanted my artwork to look like a photograph I would have taken a photograph with a camera and would have been on with my life in a matter of seconds.   I work hard at manipulating the painted brush strokes and textural effects that my paints make, one that a photograph will never come close to reproducing.  I would mention color gamut, interpretation, levels of abstraction, temperature,  and artistic license but I can see you’ve already made up your mind.



8 Things Artists Hate Hearing - Annoying Responses Artists Hear Most Often - art favors

3 So, You’re a Visual Person…

Whenever I hear this one it’s invariably followed by an obnoxious request to work for free or for such a low wage it mind as well be.  Some common examples:

So, you’re a visual person, can you help me design my backyard?  Seriously? You realize I’m a still life painter right?

So, you’re a visual person, can you paint a mural on my kid’s bedroom wall?  See above response. Now  go to Walmart, buy  some posters and call it a day.



8 Things Artists Hate Hearing - Annoying Responses Artists Hear Most Often - pushy suggestions

4 You Know What You Should Paint?

No please tell me.  I tremble with anticipation! I can’t tell you how often I get advice from people whom:

  • Don’t collect art
  • Don’t make art
  • Have never taken an art history course ever in their life
  • Don’t understand any artwork even slightly outside of the realism tradition

Yet, these same folks are never short on expert advice as to which direction my painting career should take!  Wow, thanks so much buddy, I don’t know how I got this far without you, it must have been dumb luck on my part!



8 Things Artists Hate Hearing - Annoying Responses Artists Hear Most Often - ponder

5 Have You Ever Seen…?

This is when a person names another artist and claims that your artwork is like theirs.  These people usually have a very short mental list of artworks in mind and they’re always playing a childlike game of match in their head.  Cool, you mean to tell me that all of those years of developing my own artistic voice has resulted in my artwork being a duplication of something that has already been done?  Sweet.  Thanks to your keen eye and superb ability to categorize artwork, I‘ll be sure to change my artistic style right away!  Also, thanks for adding such an in-depth analysis to the discussion.



8 Things Artists Hate Hearing - Annoying Responses Artists Hear Most Often - can't afford art

6 I Wish I Could Afford Your Artwork

Translation:  I can afford your artwork, I am just not willing to spend money on your art.  Having been in the arena of art-sales ventures for over a decade this was originally frustrating for me to hear.  I once heard this from a colleague at an art show 10 minutes before she got into her gigantic gas-guzzling, $60,000, luxury, sports utility vehicle and drove away.  It was almost comical.   I wish I could attend your direct marketing Tupperware party-scam at your house this weekend, but alas I’ll be busy doing something else… probably making artwork you can’t afford 😉



8 Things Artists Hate Hearing - Annoying Responses Artists Hear Most Often - lucky

7 You’re Lucky to Have Artistic Talent

Yes, it was really wonderful that day I woke up and found out I could draw and paint just like a pro!  You’re lucky to be good at accounting.  You’re lucky to be good at running marathons.  This is probably one of the most offensive comments an artist can get although it’s often said with the greatest subtlety.  It implies that artists have not worked extremely hard to get to where they are and that art cannot be learned.  Both of these statements are perpetrated by fools with a fixed-mindset of course.



8 Things Artists Hate Hearing - Annoying Responses Artists Hear Most Often - art wish

8 I Wish I Could Draw Like That

Right, and I wish I could eat a gigantic bowl of ice cream every night and not get fat. What this person means to say is “I wish I could be good at something without making any effort.”  Making artwork takes an incredible amount of discipline and focus.  There’s nothing to wish for.  You either want to be proficient at art-making and are willing to  spend years getting better at it or you don’t.  It’s that simple.



Sorry, but I was feeling a wee bit sarcastic today and just wanted to get this off my chest. If you are an artist whom is serious about your artwork, especially selling it, I’m sure you can relate to many of these annoying statements.





  1. Hi, Thanks for sharing what bugs you. As the person talking to the artist I can tell you it’s not always easy to say something “intelligent”. When I say I wish I could buy your work, it usually means I wish I could buy your work, but dont have an extra wad of money laying around. I am having fun exploring your site. I’m very happy with my cylinder drawing and and looking forward to start the color charts. I thinks it’s great that you are sharing all of this. I thingk I’m pretty lucky to have found your site.

    1. John Morfis says:

      Thanks for commenting (I was definitely blowing off some steam for this post). I’m glad you’re trying some of the stuff I write about here on my blog. Again thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

  2. OMG. You hit all the right points lol. I get number 4 a lot “you know what you should paint?” And its always from the people that don’t buy. They see a nice picture on facebook or something and irritate me by sending pictures of it and telling me I should paint it. But if I say what is really on my mind they’ll think I’m being rude. 1. Why would I paint a pretty picture that someone else took? So they can sue me for copyright infringement? 2. Why would I paint an uninteresting picture just because it looks pretty and has bright pretty colours? 3. Why should I dedicate hours of my life and money on materials just to please you so you can say, “You know I told him to paint that?” 4. I only paint what I want to paint and couldn’t care less what you want me to paint. Especially since you’re not gonna buy it. Otherwise we would be talking about a commission. 5. Etc., etc.

    Wow. That felt great to get off my chest!

    1. John Morfis says:

      Yes, everyone is a critic but seldom a buyer. Here’s a line I use: “Great idea, but that’s not in line with the current direction of my artwork, but thanks for thinking of me!” It compliments, thanks, and rejects all in one line. It only takes a fraction of a minute to type or say.

  3. Hey! I have to tell you that I find myself as a consumer of art in nr 7 and I’ve always lived with this idea in my head that you need talent to have even the smallest success in art, coming from a person who never considered to be talented. As you were saying earlier there is a big separation between the artists and the general public, and sometimes we make this remark without meaning that we don’t think there is a lot of effort behind it as well but that without that talent, it doesn’t really matter how much effort you put into it. I’m starting to discover that art is 95% effort and 5% talent and maybe it is decreasing with how the arts are evolving. It is more and more about using new technologies and new mediums, which uses maybe more information than talent. Or maybe talent is the ability to fructify more information about the subject you are interested in. Hah sorry for the rant but I’ve had this on my mind for a while now. I like your blog a lot and as a beginner painter I want to thank you for making the effort of sharing your information, especially in such a didactic way.

    1. John Morfis says:

      Thanks for commenting Ira. Yes art-making certainly takes a ton of effort. There is no doubt that some people are born with gifts that allow them to have an initial edge over other people. This is true in sports, art, all aspects of life. But, that natural “talent” is just the mere beginning. It’s all the deliberate practice (see Anders Ericsson) that makes the real difference. You’ve also touched on an interesting point and that’s technology. There has been an explosion in the past 15 years in painter’s skills due to the sharing of knowledge largely supported by the internet and digital sources in general.

      I’m glad you’re enjoying my blog.

  4. Thanks for writing that article John; I constantly run into a lot of what you mentioned, and it gets to where I feel like moving to some small island by itself! People really have no idea at large the effort it takes to create art, and how they disruptive they can be simply with an unwelcome comment or whatnot.

  5. Number 4 is my biggest pet peeve. Because my family is the biggest contributors ever on that one. And it’s like wow, really? You want me to do charactetures (or however you spell that) or sketch this building, or paint some sign, or god forbid something. Yet what sets me off like an explosion, is why my mother wonders why I crack attitude or some form of a sarcastic snap back to someone who wants to direct me. Like thanks. That’s not something I want to do, but I guess I can’t say no or be funny about it either. Like you don’t let other people boss you why do I have to let them boss me?

    1. John Morfis says:

      Hang in there Michaela and while you don’t want to shut everyone out you HAVE TO listen to your inner artistic voice. You know… the one that drives you to be an artist in the first place. 99.9% of the general public’s suggestions have always been bad ideas for my painting career but every so often a decent idea presents itself. Stay true to YOUR artistic path!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *