I’ve made several mistakes as an artist on Instagram.
I was young and so eager to please people that I’d stand mortified in fear every time I posted.
I used to overthink my art, my Instagram captions, and even my responses.
But with time and dealing with several people and clients over the years, I’ve become more used to talking to people and communicating with them over emails and DM.
In this post, I want to talk about how you can respond to compliments as an Artist.
It doesn’t matter if people compliment you:
- Via Direct Messaging
- Via comments
- By sending you an email
- Or just straight-up shaking your hand and hugging you
It can be scary when you’re complimented.
Maybe you overthink the reasons why they’re complimenting you, or you’re doubting them or yourself. Perhaps you get shy or embarrassed.
Either way, have no fear.
I will discuss how you can keep your calm and say thank you in a way that really makes you a more confident artist.
But before I get into the post, please take a moment to subscribe to my weekly newsletter, where I send all kinds of drawing tutorials, drawing worksheets, and drawing resources like courses and books:
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7 Easy Ways to Respond to Compliments as an Artist
1. Don’t overthink the compliment
It’s very easy to start going off on a tangent when we’re complimented.
Most artists, when starting out, doubt their skills and abilities.
This doubt works well in several ways – it pushes us to learn more, keeps our minds open, and constantly helps us strive to be better.
But it can also damage our self-esteem.
When someone is complimenting you, they are genuinely loving your art or work.
So, don’t overthink it and start second-guessing your abilities.
Nobody is out to get you.
Nobody is trying to demean you.
And even on the remote chance that a person is trying to, it’s on them – not on you.
So, be proud of your work and your abilities.
99% of people compliment someone because they genuinely appreciate them for something.
Pat yourself on the back – a compliment from someone means that you are being recognized.
Take it as a huge bonus and smile!
2. Don’t scrutinize the compliment
This is very similar to the first point.
But I know a lot of artists personally who cannot take a compliment.
If you say, “I love how you’ve colored the character,” they’ll respond with something like:
- “Oh, this? I really don’t like how I painted this. I could have done so much better.”
- “Really? But this piece isn’t as good as the other one?”
- “I don’t understand. Are you mocking me? Can’t you see these imperfections here and here?”
And on and on it goes.
When you reject a compliment, it isn’t modest.
It comes off as snobbish and ill-mannered.
It may even push people far away from you because it kinda shows that you don’t really value their compliment or opinion.
First of all, it is crucial that you understand that not everybody is as critical as you about your art.
You are studying art, and you know more about it.
What may seem slightly off or disproportional to you might look perfectly normal (even beautiful) to others.
Your audience doesn’t hold such high standards as you do.
Let’s say you know absolutely nothing about dance.
If you’re watching ballet for the first time, you may not even know that the ballerina didn’t execute certain steps correctly. She might have been utterly brilliant for you, and you may have enjoyed her performance immensely.
It’s the same with your art.
Your art probably makes people feel good, and that’s why they’re passing the compliment.
So, you need to learn to take a compliment gracefully.
3. Understand that being an artist is more than just creating
Yes, we create art.
But art is more than that – it’s about communicating and entertaining.
It’s about telling a story with pictures or words or actions.
And if we cannot adjust our attitude to be kind, reciprocating, and human, we’ve lost the motive of being an artist.
I learned this during my first years of freelancing.
Art mattered, but attitude and good habits mattered even more.
People love artists who are gracious, confident, and polite.
So, focus on building people skills.
Most people are drowning in their own thoughts and problems. Not everyone is thinking about you.
You may capture about 2 seconds of their day with your art. And when a compliment comes your way, saying a simple “Thank you.” can just about make their day.
As you grow as an artist, you will learn that art is more than just creating; it’s about:
- Learning how to talk to people
- How to price your work
- How to understand what the client wants and translate that into art
- How to approach revisions and modifications
- Dealing with promotion and talking about your art daily (because if you don’t promote, who will?)
Most people who love art are introverts.
They don’t really like extreme sports or outdoor activities – they prefer creating all day.
But this also leads to introverted habits like not being able to hold a conversation or being able to read body language.
It is crucial to develop your communication skills as an artist – this is what will serve you well in the future.
4. Say a simple “Thank you”
If you cannot think of anything else to say or are stuck for words or flabbergasted, just say, “Thank you.”
If you’re leaving a comment, a nice smiley face at the end of a Thank you also comes off as very cheerful and lovable like this: “Thank you. =)”
Don’t overthink your thank you.
You don’t have to give reasons as to why you’re thanking them or why your art is not as great as someone else’s.
If, however, someone has complimented you and asked you a question, respond normally.
Say thank you first and then answer their question politely and to the point.
What may seem like beginner knowledge to you may be advanced for newbies.
So, never be proud or laugh off questions.
Be super polite and helpful – it will take you a long way.
5. Go an extra mile to extra nice people
Whenever people compliment me with more than 2-3 praises, I go the extra mile and pay them a compliment as well.
For instance, if someone says, “I love this, so cute!” then you can reply with, “Thank you.”
But if someone says, “I love this piece. It reminds me of my childhood for some reason – I really love how you’ve used pastel colors to bring out the innocence of that child.”
Then, go the extra mile and say, “Thank you so much; it’s very kind of you.”
Paying a compliment in return is such a nice thing to do; it makes the reader feel warm and appreciated.
This will make them come back to you again!
6. Encourage a discussion
I used to do this on Instagram all the time.
I would get thousands of comments per post because I would engage with my followers.
If someone posted a big comment, I’d thank them and ask a question in return.
This would prompt them to reply, and a conversation would start!
This engagement usually shows Social media that you’re engaging with your followers, and you’ll end up on their feed more.
It also encourages more comments, and this means that people are spending more time on the platform – so Instagram will show your posts to more people.
That’s the ultimate goal of every social media – they want people to stay on their platform for longer so they can display more ads.
More comments on your feed also tell Companies that your account is very active and more people are engaging with your content – this will lead to more Brands reaching out to you.
For the few months I was on Instagram, I was reached out to by multiple big companies who wanted to work with me.
My art was good, but it was nothing compared to a lot of other artists – but they were very interested in me posting the finished product on my page because they knew it would result in more engagement and likes.
So, starting discussions works very well in your favor – it also encourages people to comment because they can see that you’re so active in the comment section.
This shows that you are:
And this is the best way to accept compliments as an artist – just be kind and encourage more comments.
Go out of your way to ask questions, contribute to conversations and just be helpful and kind.
7. Pay the Piper with compliments
It’s great to receive compliments, but it’s even better to give them.
The best way to learn how to respond to compliments is to go out into the world and pay compliments to other artists!
Go around and look at other people’s work.
Pay them compliments.
It’s nice to give more than you receive.
Pay attention to their responses.
Make note of the responses you like the best so that you can do the same.
Do you like it when people just say a simple thank you, when they ask you a question or compliment you in return, or when they give you more information?
Note how people talk and how people engage in conversations.
This is how we will develop our social skills and become more forthcoming with our compliments and gratitude.
This is how we learn to communicate better!
A few points to note when accepting compliments:
1. Do not bother with insincere compliments
An insincere compliment is a sarcastic compliment that’s meant to make you look bad.
It may sound something like this, “You draw well for a 5-year-old.”
It’s obvious the person commenting like this is bitter and just doesn’t like the attention you’re getting – remember that this compliment says more about them than it does you.
The best thing to do is to ignore the comment blatantly.
These people like to make artists feel insecure and bad about themselves. It’s because they themselves are insecure and feel better dragging others down.
Focus on the 99% of people that love you. =)
Remember, if someone wants to genuinely correct you or give you a suggestion, they will do it with kindness and sincerity. They will either direct message you or send you an email.
They won’t post it publicly for everyone to see.
Fight cruelty with kindness.
2. Keep things simple and easy
If you’re still finding it difficult to engage in conversation or are unable to think of what to say, resort to the simple “Thank you.”
And is more than enough – it conveys your gratitude and shows you are polite enough to reply to the compliment.
With time, you can add more to your comments like the points I’ve illustrated above.
Conclusion on how to accept compliments as an Artist
Please know that all of this gets better with time and practice.
It’s easy to get intimidated in the beginning.
But with time and practice, our confidence as artists develops, and we can communicate more effectively.
We also can build a thicker skin and can take burns easily.
It happens to everyone.
I used to be very shy and nervous at the beginning as an artist. But as I kept posting and replying to people, it became easier.
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below, I’m more than happy to help!
Here are a few posts you’ll enjoy if you love drawing:
- How to draw without a reference
- How to get better at drawing (for beginners)
- How to find your art style when you’re a beginner artist
- 13 signs you were meant to be an artist
- How long does it take to learn how to draw? (Explained)
- How to become a full-time artist without a degree
- 13 drawing mistakes most beginner artists make
- 9 drawing books for beginners
- Fun drawing gifts for children under 10 years old
- 13 easy ways to make money online as an artist
- 13 reasons why people like drawing + drawing benefits!