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How To Critique Someones Work

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Avatar of Isabella
Founder of 1stAngel Arts Magazine Social Area Manager on Fine Art America An oil painter by profession, it is actually my digital work which has been exhibited. I enjoy bringing art to non artists and artists to other artists. I have interviews on my magazine from all kinds of artist, writer and musician. I hope you enjoy them and my site as much as I do

Oftimes on the internet, and off, we are asked what we think of someone’s work.  Nowadays also we have people sharing their work and expecting us to say something.

Some people always say how good something is even if, inside, they are cringing at the awfulness of the subject.

Some people always ram in like a bull in a china shop and point out all the things they would have done differently.


Some people stay quiet for fear of hurting.

So which is right? Well, a little of each really.

Firstly, giving critical statements about work is not appreciated by the majority unless you have done the courtesy off asking first if you may.  This is good manners and it is the first part to good relations between yourself and the person whose work you may wish to point out bad bits on.

You may be answering a request for critique in which case of course you will not need to ask permission and the coast is already clear.

If someone asks for critique it may be they do want everyone to say how lovely it is, or they may be asking for real advice as they are unsure of what they have done, or they are trying a new technique and want to get feedback, or, and this is not rare, they are unsure of themselves all round.

Whichever they are it is always important to follow the unspoken rules for stating what you think. If it is done properly then you can speak the truth without any fear of hurting or annoying.

1. Keep your critique positive.

This does not mean that you have to say the work is awesome, or say you like it if you don’t. Keeping it positive means that you never say you hate something about the work. When saying what doesn’t work, mention also areas that do work. Never leave the person on a downer.

2. Ask questions.

Part of the work may have been staged in a certain way on purpose which you cannot see. If you see an area that doesn’t work, find out why the person did it that way before criticising it. It makes the person look again at their work and ask themselves the question. This way they are seeing the problem for themselves.

3. If you see something that really does not work

Explain how you see the work. That, to you, that one area does not seem to work well and always explain why. This helps the person pinpoint exact problems they may not be able to see.

4. Remember that your critique is your opinion only

You should therefore only make suggestions. Instead of saying, ‘That needs changing!‘, you should be wording it more along the lines of, ‘Perhaps a little more of this may work?’, and then explain what you would see there in place of what they have done.

If someone has trusted you to critique their work then it is up to you to do so but, always with respect. The secret of a good giver of criticism is to make the person see faults for themselves rather than have them hit over the head with them.

© 2011 – 2012, Isabella Francesca Abigail Shores. All rights reserved.

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  1. tony MURRAY /

    Looks good beth.

  2. Hey Beth, I liked that article a lot! I was actually looking for a topic to write about on my blog (which I have neglected for the longest time) and I think that this is a great one. I hope you don’t mind and feel that I’m stepping on your toes… Let me know your thoughts… Thanks, V

  3. have you got anything more in depth? am just completing first module of critical studies which needs to be in by the end of the month.

    i am supposed to offer my opinions on various works/movements throught the 20th and 21st centuries. whilst i can give my opinions am not sure of how it should be written.

    bear in mind most of the artists are dead so no fear of offending them!

    • Avatar of Isabella

      Sorry, It took me long enough to write this lol Just put ‘critique’ in Google and there is a lot of good information there plus some examples that may help

  4. cheers duck. reply links not working :(

  5. Drying off from my first post;0,this looks like a good direction for me!:)
    “I fear not of learning.”

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