Don’t Piss On Someone’s Art

See this little guy? It might be difficult to tell because of all the snow, but this is a statue of a beaver. He’s sitting on a bench and holding a hockey stick (he used to have a mug in his other hand but it vanished about a year ago). This little dude lives just down the street from me and I have very warm feelings toward him. I pat him on the nose every time I walk by and I smile at the sound that resonates through his hollow body.

What you can’t see in this image is that people have obviously been letting their dogs pee on his bench. The snow beside him is yellow and gross and makes me sad.

Don’t pee on other people’s art.

You shouldn’t do it, you shouldn’t let your dog do it.

I mean that literally as well as figuratively.

Even if it’s something you don’t personally feel connected to, something that doesn’t move you at all, you still shouldn’t piss on it. Someone put thought, energy and emotion into it. It may not matter to you, but it matters to them.

I had a rule, back when Niteblade used to do book reviews and that rule was ‘If you can’t find anything to like in a story, don’t review it’. Bad reviews are okay but tearing someone’s work to pieces just because you can is not. That’s pretty simple, pretty black and white. Sadly, there are so many different shades of grey involved as well.

For example, how many times have we all seen someone post something on social media (or elsewhere) that they think is amazing, that they have spent time and energy creating and the first comment is ‘Lawlz, you have too much time on your hands’. How dismissive. How rude. How painful.

How easy to do.

It’s ironic, perhaps, that I’d been planning to make this blog entry for a couple weeks now but hadn’t gotten around to it and then today I pissed on someone’s art.

I didn’t really mean to. It was an unthinking thing.

A friend on social media put out a call for people to ‘Like’ one of their friend’s photographs so they could win a contest of some sort. I ‘liked’ the photo and then commented on my friend’s wall about the three things I really liked about the picture and… the one I didn’t. The person in the photograph saw my comment and was hurt by it. She is not (as far as I know) a professional artist, not a pro photographer or model used to having her work critiqued. She is just a lady who modeled for a photograph (she may also have taken it, I’m not sure) and who missed the positives I said about the picture and focused on the negative.

It’s understandable. There is no reason she should have built up a thick skin to these sorts of things. She probably only expected friends and family to see the picture and find all the good in it and it was a photograph to which she had a strong emotional connection to.


I feel bad. I should know better. I really should. I considered before I made my comment whether I ought to share my opinion and decided to because I thought ‘It’s an entry in a contest in a public arena. Surely that means it’s okay for me to share my thoughts, especially since they are mostly positive’ but you know what? Not so much. I assumed a lot by deciding to post what I did, and that’s not fair. I pissed all over that lady’s art.

NAME REDACTED, if you happen to see this, I am sorry. It really is a beautiful photograph and beyond that I ought to have kept my opinion about it to myself.

It’s a tricky thing, I think, to find the balance between discussing art and pissing on it. I’m obviously still working on getting it right.

What about you? Do you have any sort of rules or tools you use to gauge when it’s better to hold your tongue?

(Photograph courtesy of  Amanda Cornell)

ETA: I took the name of the person off my blog in response to her request in my comments.


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9 thoughts on “Don’t Piss On Someone’s Art”



    1. I’ve taken your name off the blog, however you did come here and request that I do that while posting under that same name. So there’s that.

      Also it is totally not okay for you to ‘yell’ at me like this.

      I can’t copy/paste my original comment here because it was deleted off my friend’s wall but I said something very much like “I love the tones in this picture, they are gorgeous and the composition is great but when you look at it in full-size the couple’s lips are tight and the guy’s chin is crinkled. It’s odd in comparison to the natural softness of the rest of the picture.”

      I admit that I probably shouldn’t have said anything at all, but I don’t believe that either what I said nor this blog entry should have earned so vitriolic a response from you and, given that, I’m not willing to continue this conversation and will no longer be approving any comments from you unless you speak to me civilly.

  3. Ah well, there’s no denying the self esteem issues of many models that obviously made this more of an issue than it seems to deserve to be.

    1. I wasn’t sure I should approve this comment and let it out of moderation, but I approved the model in question’s comments so it only seemed fair.

      Still, I’m pretty much done dealing with this particular situation now.

  4. I suppose you could have chosen to just not click like, but in essence you did like it. However, if someone puts something out there publicly hoping only for ‘likes’ guess what…by publicizing it they have opened themselves up to comments and opinions which may turn out to be not so ‘like-able’

    1. Yeah. To be honest given the reaction of this particular woman I feel less badly than I originally did, but I also learned a good lesson. From now on when it comes to social media I’m not going to critique or offer an opinion on things like this unless I’m specifically asked LOL

  5. You know, I get what you’re saying about not peeing on other people’s art, but I disagree that what you did should be classified as peeing. There are super sensitive people in this world, and sometimes those people are going to get hurt, regardless of how mindful we try to be in our comments, posts, tweets, whatever. Your comment was thoughtful, considered, and from my perspective, inoffensive.

    I know it can be hard to receive criticism, however gently that criticism is delivered. Like you, I would rather not critique at all than just slam someone’s efforts. However, when I put something out there on my blog, on Facebook, on Twitter, I figure that’s an invitation to honest opinion, good or bad. It’s like throwing something into a conversation–you can’t always predict whether the response is going to be 100% positive, even if it’s a conversation among very close friends–which Facebook rarely is.

    So, yeah. In a nutshell, I don’t think you crossed a line here. No yellow snow to apologize for!

    1. I think you’re right. I believe I felt so bad for hurting that person’s feelings that I pushed myself into a category (Art pee-er-on-er) in which I didn’t belong. Her reaction after I apologised (here as well as on Facebook) have just made me see that what I said has been hugely blown out of proportion.

      Still, I did learn a lesson here. I think it’s very unlikely I’ll offer an opinion of anyone’s photography on Facebook again 😉

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