I've worked with him, and he has a considerable spark of tallent. He seems smart enough to understand that it has to be nurtured to develop, but he's losing his will. I've seen this spark firsthand: a clever detail here and there, a working knowldge of the subtilities of his art, and a will to keep going. I know he think his work looks like many of his colleages, but what else can he expect? They have a similiar spark, too some degree. What each of them do with it is up to them: they can choose to give up, or continue. I can gaurentee that almost all of them will give up. From somebody that has lost too many dreams, this is painful to watch. Don't give up, man! Don't shrug off your dreams so easily!
I think he feels that he's not developing any. If this is true, then he must take charge! Read as much as you can on your art, contact professionals that you have acsess to about specific problems, and just generally learn! Furthermore, what happened to practice? If you put whatever knowldge to immediate use, you can be amazed at how much more you learn! The only thing you can do to not develop is give up. That's the damn good way to stop yourself from getting better.
Your work has been critisized on the place where your art is up at? Hey, that's only to be expected. There's two types of critisism: the type coming from people that want you want to improve, and the type that just want you to stop. You have to learn to discriminate between the two. That's a part of your learning process, and something all artists end up learning at some point or another. Furthermore, along the way, you're just going to read some extremely biting stuff from the general audience. Put simply, you have to grow some thick skin. That's it. Reach deep down inside and find that part of you that is fully capable of taking a death threat and respond with, "Thank you for the heads up on that: it would have been somewhat of an inconvience to have my head torn off unexpectedly." You just have to. That's a part of the arts, every good artist had to go into "ambivilent mode" once and a while.
Don't. Give. Up. Keep at it. I know you're the sensitive type, but I'm not letting you give up on your dreams because of it. I'm getting sick of seeing wasted potential, and won't stand it anymore. If you're reading this, I'm right here if you need me. Just because I'm away on IM a lot doesn't mean I'm away in life: feel free to drop a line into my Away box or over LiveJournal if you need any feedback or just need to talk about something. That's what I'm here for. Oh, and for everyone else, if you feel that this somehow applies to you as well, then it does.
Oh, yeah, and one more thing:
And once she had really frightened her old nurse by shouting suddenly into her ear, 'Nurse! Do let's pretend that I'm a hungry Hyena, and you're a bone.' -Through The Looking Glass and What Alice Found There