Some late-night thoughts on feedback and what to do with it
Originally published a series of tweets on October 21, 2014. Cleaned up with minor edits.
- Feedback on your work is not a Right/Wrong, Good/Bad judgement. You should never change work just because someone with status (a professor, outside critic, senior peer) dislikes it.
- Feedback should be viewed as data on how your work affects people (or a type of person, e.g. art directors in branding) or how they relate to it.
- Virtually all feedback is based upon the reviewer trying to find where your work fits in to their life. Its usually based on the field they work in.
- The closer your work aligns to what the reviewer does, the more detailed the critique will be because they work with the same ideas daily.
You’ll also get your harshest critiques from people who relate to the type of work but not the execution.
- If someone can’t relate to a project they’ll find a way to make it fit. So branding professionals will want self-contained “personal” projects to be marketing pieces and others will lament the lack of personal projects.
- You can also get “false positives” when a reviewer recognizes the amount of work it takes to do something but has no domain knowledge. They might be impressed by scale alone but have no real feedback to give. Students do this all the time when they say things like “This must’ve taken SO much time.”
- You need to take feedback and view it through the lens of “What does the reviewer want to do with my work?” and “What do I want to do with it?”.
- Its imperative to solicit lots of feedback to understand how your work affects different groups of people, certainly more than students and faculty AND definitely not limited to the professionals that your teachers just happened to put in front of your work. Seek out viewpoints that seem relevant to your goals.