1 year ago
Earlier today, I stumbled across an article by developer Michael Wright, about critiques, and why he no longer gives them.
This article is, I think, very much true. Many people, especially those new to design don’t want an honest critique. They want praise for their efforts. Really, I think part of that is human nature. If you just spent 20hrs learning to do something new, even if the end result is garbage compared to what someone with experience could build, you’ve just spent 20hrs learning something new. It’s reasonable to want a little satisfaction from that.
Mostly, that satisfaction should come from within, but we are social creatures, influenced, for better or worse, by the opinions of our peers.
I work primarily as a developer, but in school, I focused on design, which I got to by way of a fine art degree, with some design classes tacked on.
The critiques from the design classes were tough, a lot of people couldn’t take them, but they were nothing compared to the critiques dished out in the fine art studio courses, where work was picked apart relentlessly, by our professors, and by our peers.
I’ve seen more than one student, usually freshmen, reduced to tears by a critique.
But if you stop taking it personally and really listen, you learn quick. I learned a lot in my design classes and had some great instruction, but if I’m honest, I learned more about good composition and presentation in my drawing courses. This was largely due to the fact that the critiques were so much more demanding.
I had one drawing professor in particular who was famous for giving harsh critiques. No one looked forward to them. I took every course I could with this professor (he was amazing) and even though I learned to appreciate the value of those critiques and wanted to endure them for the insights I would surely gain, it was just that-a matter of enduring them. I still didn’t look forward to them. I would often walk in with dread and come out feeling bruised.
I learned more from that man than any of my other professors combined.
A good critique is a powerful tool, if you can stomach them. A lot of people can’t, but the thing is, they’re never personal. The only person who has a personal attachment to what you make is you.
That’s fine to feel that way about your work, of course. You should care and you should take pride in it, but if someone gives you a harsh critique, don’t get your feelings hurt and get all bent out of shape. Even the best of us have something left to learn and nothing, no matter how much blood, sweat, and tears we put into it, will ever be perfect.
Critiques aren’t a reflection on you as a person. They’re not a criticism of your creativity or your dedication, or your work ethic, or your desire or capability to learn. They’re a commentary on your currently held level of skill and expertise in whatever it is you’re trying to do.
That’s something that’s going to always be in flux and will always have room for improvement, no matter how long you’ve been in the business.