Criticism – crucial to success – teambuilding

Attention to detail and the design brief lowers failures and knock-backs – while art writes it’s own rules, design runs on tracks…

Recently I have been considering how I grew to handle criticism in my early years as a creative and my thinking falls into two grounds of creative practice.



Fine art Crit – essential to artistic/personal growth

Design Crit – essential to commercial success



As students we have to learn to absorb all kinds of professional and peer group feedback – the feedback sandwich is important of course but it’s not always an option. As students we get used to weekly crits throughout our university careers.  This is essential toward building the ability to absorb varied approaches, think 360 and resolve solutions from an autonomous position.

Being aware of the commerciality of creative work helps us use feedback effectively.  Art is personal:  an unpredictable and highly intuitive process – design however must retain a proven commercial path … a process that has options but repeats cycles of success.

You may own the art but the design is always tied to the client brand ID.



Recently – Parma Golosa Website

While developing a client logo concept (below top) I got a series of emails back saying they wanted a different feeling, font and background… my client was Italian and wanting his business to be proudly Italian and warm.


Top:  First concept        Bottom:  Final version



His client base is 90% USA and my decision was to base his logo and website on a clean fresh look… and cool.

I took their criticism and preferences and started thinking about how to retain the best for them and their commercial success.

I worked the changes with their young designer the next afternoon. We had some ice cream and tapped about Photoshop finally after an hour or so arriving at a logo that we all liked… and it seems to be working very well since its launch.

A few days later I cleaned a few edges, tightened the typography a touch and it went forward.

If they are happy … I am – so long as the design is genuinely hot in some way.  Besides, I think they were right!

design often comes out of an existing success story in a pragmatic way

Design team

Teamwork relies heavily on the design team being able to enjoy concept, share ideas, take an analytical view and stay positively on track.

Framing the critical view positively is essential.  It must be followed by a really positive message and no bull.

When I crit a team member they know it is considered because I understand what makes them tick and where they are heading. Avoiding continual negative comments is down to the designer remaining open in the exploration stages of projects and developing strong relationships.

Great critical wayfaring 3 tips

ESCAPE – don’t get boxed in in the early stages

                             explore > share > change > acknowledge > proceed > execute

The first 3 stages repeat 2-3 times in the concept stage.

Create 3 versions – mix and match with the team

Think Think Ingest – think fast n hard about why you are making it in such a way – apply devils advocate – pull at it

Today it is essential to rely on all manner of input from our teams. Never be scared to take it to the HOD or team for inspiration – ‘guys it’s this feels kinda stuck…’  Be open: if it stings say so and drill down in your responses – the outcome will astound you.

Leave you comments and ways of building success with critical view.

Nick G