Not long ago, a friend of mine got some rather harsh and even somewhat rude criticism, anonymously, that their art has been regressing for a while and that they're squandering all of their potential. This friend responded by simply mocking their statements.
While I certainly don't approve of how the anon gave said criticism, I unfortunately can't exactly disagree with the criticism itself. They still have some great aspects to their art, and back when I first discovered their art, they used to be someone that I'd recommend to others in an instant, but nowadays, there are other artists that I'd sooner recommend, even though that this artist is a friend. It's something that I feel has been the case for a while now, but never exactly had the courage to tell them, the main reasons being:
- It's not exactly polite to tell an artist their art has been getting worse, even if you give legitimate reasons why
- Our friendship has been shaky for a while now and I don't want to ruin it, especially considering that, despite it's current status of being "shaky", we've been friends for quite a while.
This isn't the first time they've gotten this criticism; they got a similar complaint a couple of years back, when I started feeling that their art quality has started deteriorating. Unlike the aforementioned time, this hit them pretty hard.
In fact, this isn't even the last time they got criticism either; shortly after they mocked the anonymous person's statements publicly, they got another anonymous message that was much less rude (though not exactly polite either) that basically said that they couldn't help but agree with the other anonymous individual. They more or less brushed this one off as well because they think that because they're anonymous, their concerns of their art getting worse aren't valid.
This brings me to my situation: how does one tell an artist friend that their art has been getting worse? They aren't exactly popular on any site that their art is on, despite being an artist for many years and still having good works at times, and I can't help but feel that my concerns about them is the big reason for this.
I fear that if I attempt to tell them my concerns, they'll just brand me as a jerk, cut me off, and continue doing things the way they're doing them.
I can't help but feel that, because of a combination of the fact that they themselves don't think their art is gradually lowering in quality, and that our friendship is unstable, there ISN'T way to tell them such without ruining everything.