Sicaga’s goal is to build a positive community that welcomes anyone interested in comics and sequential art. Our rules are designed ensure that anyone who visits Sicaga can feel comfortable and safe from judgement or abuse.
Feedback and critique
Discouraging toxic critique
Toxic critique is defined as as "comments about a person's art that are intended to bolster the critic by demoralizing the artist." This type of feedback is pervasive in the general dialogue of art, and Sicaga has always been a bastion from it.
Encouragement before critique; Critique to encourage.
- Do not give unsolicited feedback.
- If an artist asks for feedback on a piece, (ex: “What do you think?”) provide encouragement.
- If an artist has explicitly requested critique, comments must either be a specific improvement the artist could make to the piece, or a specific improvement the artist could employ in their next piece.
Critique and confidence
At Sicaga, everyone is allowed to make comics. Putting pen to paper and making a comic is one of the most challenging and rewarding things a person can do. Therefore, we are dedicated to nurturing any creator on their journey towards artistic confidence.
Skill level and confidence level are separate elements. Often, a very talented artist can feel vulnerable about receiving critique. Occasionally, total beginners are eager for feedback. Before providing critique, be aware of an artist's confidence. Here are some standard levels of creative feedback.
- Encouragement Only. - Many artists are not prepared for critique, even constructive. If you're not sure, always assume an artist is seeking encouragement. Letting them know what they're doing well is still helpful.
- “Critique Sandwich.” - If an artist seems tentatively ready for criticism, identify one area they are already strong, one area you see they could improve, and one other skill they are employing correctly. Providing a single focus for improvement prevents less confident artists from getting overwhelmed or demoralized, and empowers them to establish their next artistic direction.
- Full Critique. - This level of critique requires the critic to have a rapport with the artist. Generally, avoid full critique unless it has been very specifically requested.
Sicaga will not discriminate or allow discrimination against guests regarding their race, class, orientation, gender, religion or any other identity.
Artwork depicting discrimination or abuse is permitted, because we believe art can be used to discuss difficult issues. However, it should be done responsibly, using the following guidelines; the guidelines are designed to protect all parties, and hopefully elevate the dialogue:
- The artist is upfront about the work containing controversial issues.
- The artist respects that their work may make others uncomfortable while interacting with others.
- If requested by leadership, the artist must communicate the nature of the sensitive material depicted in their art (such as writing a warning before they link their art).
We are a fiercely supportive group; however, some situations may arise where our support may not be enough. When interacting in the group, bear in mind that we are not trained in handling every situation, and we are not a substitute for professional assistance. Do not let the group’s support appear paradoxical or hypocritical if anyone says the situation is over their head. We try to live by the oath, “first, do no harm”, and as such may avoid giving potentially harmful advice.
We include everyone at our face-to-face meetups. However, due to the nature of interacting online, and the potential for miscommunication, we will not allow anyone under the age of 18 to interact on our online channels without express parental consent.
Culture of Understanding
“I am uncomfortable,” is a phrase we encourage members to become comfortable saying or hearing. While abuse and harassment are expressly disallowed, there are uncomfortable circumstances that may occur without ill intent as the result of misunderstandings, miscommunication, or simply a loss of social energy. We encourage members to state when they feel uncomfortable in any situation. If the phrase “I am uncomfortable” is said to you, do not take this personally, and simply allow the person their space. It may go without saying, but of course if a member does not express whether they are comfortable does not open the door for harassment or abuse. The intention for including this phrase here is to facilitate resolving genuine social misunderstanding between guests. Please refer our Abuse Policy for situations involving harassment or hostility.
To protect our members and guests, Sicaga does not allow harassment or aggression. Harassment and aggression take away from Sicaga’s core purpose of providing a safe space for comic artists to grow and find support.
Harassment includes verbal or physical conduct that threatens, offends, demeans, or corces. Examples of harassment include…
- Continuing a behavior despite
- being asked to stop or
- being informed that others are being made uncomfortable.
- Walls of aggressive text.
- Unwanted and unrequested art criticism.
- Unwanted and unwelcome sexual advances.
- For guidance on defining “unwanted” or “unwelcome”, please refer to the following federal policy: https://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/currentissues.html
Aggression is defined as hostile or violent behavior or attitudes toward another, or a readiness to attack or confront. Examples of aggression include:
- Sudden outbursts of anger or profanity.
- Discrimination or hate speech.
- Blatant insults.
Retaliation against a member for making a good-faith report of harassment/abuse is not permitted. Community members should feel safe to discuss and report instances of abuse or harassment.
In addition to the above, we conform to the standard federal and state guidelines on abuse and harassment.
For more information on specific classes protected against discrimination, please see “Protected Classes”, here: https://www.archives.gov/eeo/terminology.html#p
For more guidelines on harassment, see the following: https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/harassment.cfm
If a member is found to be in violation of any of the above, leadership will be compelled to take action. Consequences apply to any Sicaga-endorsed activity, including:
- Face-to-face gatherings. These include weekly meetups as well as ad hoc events; any gatherings that are Sicaga-led. (A good indicator is whether leadership posts the event on meetup.com, but may not be limited to these events.)
- Online interactions. This includes any interactions in Sicaga-led channels or websites, including but not limited to: meetup.com, Discord, and the Sicaga website.
The following are guidelines leadership will use to ensure that Sicaga is a safe place for all:
- For a first offense, leadership will issue a warning. This will include informing the member of what actions were in violation of the above abuse policy, and directing the member to revisit the abuse policy.
- For the second offense and all further offenses, depending on the severity, leadership will take disciplinary action, up to and including removing the member from the community.