10 Tips for Constructive Critique

Added on by Chris WHITE.

Offering a truly constructive critique of someone's work is tricky. A few things I've found helpful...as a receiver of criticism:

  1. Only offer feedback if asked. If not asked, compliment the artist's work extremely specifically. This will likely lead to your being asked for feedback. In which case...
  2. There is no need to assert your expertise, or validity as a feedbacker. You have been asked. Your input is valued. Put your CV back in your bag.
  3. Always assume that the artist intended his work to be good, useful, valuable, and ultimately successful. This will prevent unnecessary combativeness.
  4. Be honest. And in this, be sure to provide sound, objective reasoning for your ideas...be they positive or negative.
  5. If you truly despise something about the work, it is best to identify as much positive as you can before you get into those dark waters. And when you do, be good-humored about it.
  6. When praising, understand that most good artists are uncomfortable with plaudits. When they are quiet, or seem to deflect or demure, don't fill the gap with a nit-picked criticism.
  7. When making comparisons, make sure they are of the apples-to-apples variety.
  8. Whenever possible, write your feedback. This is helpful and archivable.
  9. Really listen to the artist's response to your feedback. His excuses, explanations, and waxing poetic may help clarify your own responses.
  10. It's not your job to solve problems for the artist. But. Understand that it is their job to do so. If you offer a solution, make sure it exists within the realm of the artists reality.