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Creative Links – Giving Feedback on Creative Work

Giving feedback on creative work has been a hot topic here over the last few weeks. To wrap up the subject (for now) here are the links to my recent feedback posts plus a selection of other people’s words of wisdom on the subject.

The posts in my informal mini-series:

Tom Fishburne has some great cartoons in his ‘Brand Camp’ series, including the painfully funny 8 Types of Bad Creative Critics which appears at the top of the Brand Camp page on his site.

Ben at Noisy Decent Graphics posed a tricky question…

We see lots of students and junior designers here, people who’ve only been in the industry for a year or three. Students, graduates and freelancers.

Some of them are very good. Some of them are OK. Some of them are bad. Some of them are bloody awful. And there is the problem. Should we tell the awful ones they are awful? Should we tell the truth?

…which prompted plenty of entertaining comments.

Scamp looks at things from the other side of the fence, i.e. when and how do you present your creative work for criticism:

It concerns the age-old question… “when do you go in?” Do you wait until you have an idea that you would die on a sword for before you go in and see your creative director? Or do you go in when you have four or five ideas you like, and rely on him to pick the best one out – after all, “that’s his job”? Or do you go in with ‘just a few thoughts’, and aim to work with him on turning one of them into something good?

And Paul Colman gives the view from the client’s side of the fence (it’s triangular, trust me) in this thoughtful post about Evaluating and feeding back to creative work. Gavin Heaton at Servant of Chaos followed this up with his thoughts and an excellent Creative review checklist based on Paul’s post, to download and read through prior to giving feedback.

If you need to gather and co-ordinate feedback from different members of your project team, Tim Shih and his team at ReviewBasics have put together a comprehensive suite of tools for reviewing designs, documents, videos and other types of content. Digital content and distributed work teams are becoming more and more crucial to creative work these days, so this kind of tool could be invaluable for keeping projects on track and capturing (if not necessarily actioning) everyone’s feedback.

On the other hand, if you’ve had enough of all this creativity, Scott Berkun’s Idea Killers will be just the job for weeding out those irritating new shoots of inspiration.

EDIT: Scott Berkun has brought his article to my attention about How to give and receive criticism. It’s an excellent read, I particularly like his four fundamental assumptions of bad critics:

  1. There is one universal and objective measure of how good and bad anything is.
  2. That the critic is in sole possession of the skill for making these measurements.
  3. Anyone that doesn’t possess this skill (including the creator of the work) is an idiot and should be ridiculed.
  4. That valid criticisms can and should always be resolved.

Well, there it is. If you know of a good piece of writing about giving feedback on creativity (your own or someone else’s) please post the link in the comments.


  1. Hi Mark,

    Thanks for finding the time to mention ReviewBasics.



  2. Hi Mark:

    If you liked my idea killers post, you might like the essay I wrote on How to give and receive criticism.

  3. Tim – my pleasure.

    Scott – thanks, that’s a great article, I’ve incorporated it in the main post.

  4. Great stories and suggestions. This has been a fun and informative series to follow.


    I probably shouldn’t do this, but what the hell.

    Here’s an exercise: I think you have a beautiful site with a lot of good, practical “hands on” advice. The one problem I’ve had with it since I’ve been reading you is the “orange text.” I find it difficult to read — especially when there’s a lot of it, e.g, the six lines in the above “Related Posts.”

    Here’s the question: what is the best way for me to give you this criticism? How would you have done it?

  5. Ha ha just tell me straight Roger, I can take it! I’ll see what I can do about the colours. The trouble is I’m not exactly an expert coder, so it takes me a while to work out which bit to change…