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How to stop empty compliments on the web


All of my life I've disliked empty compliments. I've heard it from kids in school who would say, "Wow, your drawings are soooooo gooooood!" I've heard it from professionals who compliment me when I do something in Photoshop. Of course, nowadays on Facebook, it's someone who clicks the "like" button.

Now waitaminute, it's better than someone saying to me "You stink!" But really, it's pretty much the same effort - someone is taking on the role of judging someone's work, making a criticism, and that's that. Either way, empty compliments and random criticism just annoy me. If you feel the same way, there's a way to stop it - ask for money.

I learned this trick from my high school art teacher, who was fond of telling people that they weren't paying for his time when they bought one of his drawings, they were paying for his genius. His recommendation was that whenever you heard someone compliment your artwork, to offer to sell it to them. I've been doing this all of my life. And it's surprising how quickly someone who gives an empty compliment will give nothing else at all, not a dime.

I started my commercial art career in high school asking for things of value in exchange for my drawings. Not always, of course, but sometimes I asked for a favor, sometimes I asked for someone to do a drawing of me in exchange, sometimes I asked for a candy bar. And I was good enough that people were often happy to show their appreciation. Those who were just "full of hot air" wandered off, which was nice.

If you're a collector of empty compliments on the web, you probably enjoy getting a lot of "likes". If that's meaningful to you, fine. But if you would like to see what people really want, ask for money. The people who don't like your stuff will just click away, for fear of being pulled into a "sales pitch". People who do like your stuff will support you. If you're good enough, you may be surprised.


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