Critiques are so awesome....until your work is being discussed, ha ha ha . You're excited to hear what people say but...honestly only if it's great. If you're attending, showing, or leading a critique there are a few things you can do to make it a productive experience for all involved.
How to prepare yourself for a critique:
- Be prepared to show the work as finished as possible so you have NO excuses
- Look at your piece at home first to decide what parts you feel are rock solid and you wouldn't want to change even if the critique crowd doesn't like it
- Critiques are made up of other artists and teaching artists. They want to help so don't get defensive
- If you have the option to show multiple pieces choose to have at least one of those be a wild card piece where you're experimenting with something new. It's a great opportunity to get some feedback
- Separate yourself from the work at least temporarily. Artworks are like kids as they develop they move on and influence the world without you. So allow your artwork to be it's own thing and don't feel too caught up in it.
- LISTEN and I mean to everything. Don't just hear the "good", hear the "bad" too.
- If you can, take an audio recording of the critique so you can listen to it later. Sometimes when we feel vulnerable we strengthen ourselves by focusing on the positive. We feel too weak to hear criticism. Those comments will really help you grow as an artist so take them in.
- Don't say too much on the front end. Let the group read the work first.
If you're leading the critique:
- Set a timer for each artists turn. Then the group will know you're respecting all artists present.
- Set the tone for the critique. Often group critiques start quiet, it takes the crowd some time to read the art. I've seen too many critiques where the leader comes on too strong from the beginning and the entire session becomes them critiquing the work instead of the group. Start by making obvious observations about the work both conceptually and technically. Then ask the group to describe what they see. This will break the ice. Once they get used to talking, they'll start to feel more comfortable mentioning their unique interpretations.
- Keep the discussion diversified between technique and concept.
- Spot members of the crowd who have a loud and strong voice and keep them from dominating the conversation.
- Keep the crowd engaged in discussing different aspects of the piece. Often the group will get caught up on one element and then time will run out.