You've probably heard the word critique being bandied about quite a lot recently, and more than likely read a couple of tutorials
on it. You've learned all about how to do them, but there's a big piece missing still: why?
I guess the easiest way to persuade the majority is popularity, as depressing as that may be. Now, you can follow the usual route
to stardom, or you can follow the satisfying route. Fact is, there's thousands
of deviants out there who just drop by a piece, glance at the preview image and +fav it. After a while, they stop meaning anything. If you want an artist's attention, you need to stand out from this crowd, and the best way to do that is to try your best to help them. Especially when it comes to the more popular artists, they might not have time to stop by everyone who gave them a favourite, but you can be pretty certain they'll take the time to thank you for actually appreciating their art. Even better than that, it gets you worthwhile visitors. Instead of having a link to your page in your signature (by the way Sherlock, we can get there by clicking your name anyway) that will get randoms drifting by, put the effort into the comment and you'll get artists
coming by. As the art is why you're here (of course), that can only be a good thing.
Leading on nicely from popularity is friends. I've met many people on here just through critiquing, and had the good fortune to be come friends with several of them. I probably met at least half of the people in my friends box (and you can be sure that friend means friend there) through critiquing on their work. I don't think I need to justify having friends to you, do I?
Critiquing takes time, that's a given. You can't take a quick shifty at something and write half an essay about it, you need to really
look at a piece, I sometimes just space out and stare at something for a good ten minutes before I think of anything to write. Why do I want to waste my time like this? Because it's not a waste. There's some incredible art on this site, often with hours of work poured into them, and you can't appreciate it all within seconds. When you critique something, you really
get to know it. You spot little subtle things that make it what it is, you get to understand how the artist's mind was working, you see how they've worked their craft.
Know what the best thing about that is? You learn how to do it too. I've never had any kind of tutelage in photography (I know, it shows) but I've learnt. How? By thinking about what makes certain photos good, I've learnt to make mine better. Once you start appreciating the colour, the composition, the focus in other works, you can start looking for it in your own, and start putting it into your own. Art is meant to be a dialogue - the artist puts everything into it, and you can take whatever you want from it. Thinking about other art forces you to think about your own.
After a while, as well, once you have your Clique of Critique (sorry, that was terrible), you'll start receiving them back, and you'll really start to appreciate them. It would be nice if you could appreciate them beforehand, so you know what a useful thing they are, but sometimes you need to bite the bullet and make the first move.
Personally, though, I'm only really in this for one reason: the gratitude. Nothing nicer than getting a genuinely heartfelt thankyou.
I'm not expecting this to convince you all, because we're all here for different reasons, we don't all have the time, and there are probably some that just don't want to, which is fair enough. All I know is that I want to, I love to, and it's the reason I'm still on dA.