Creatives need critiques

“That doesn’t look right,” a voice said.

It took all I could to resist the temptation to tell myself that meant that I wasn’t good. That in my first design critique in graduate school, it was okay to be slightly off or imperfect. Because who gets it right the first time? But as I stood there with my classmates staring at my carefully placed typography on paper, I heard the critiques. It stung harshly then. But then after several more weeks, it stung less and clarity swam to the surface. That’s when I could also critique with focus, “Yes, I see what you mean. Maybe the J needs to move over.”

It’s hard to be creative. But it’s hard to be creative and not let critiques affect you negatively. Because it’s only through critiques that we learn what needs to be improved. Because in your eyes, your work is perfect already and you cannot see from others’ eyes until you ask for feedback.

Today though, almost ten years later, I had something critiqued. In a different kind of medium. It felt as painful as the first time. When I realized that something that I once thought was perfect…was actually imperfect. It stung deeply as my decisions turned out to be false. So I listened to the voices and took a deep breath. “Thank you,” I said.

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