The AMPLIFY Manifesto

As part of my Honours Design Research project this year, I wrote a manifesto. The AMPLIFY manifesto unites its advocates around common values in order to create a community of like-minded creatives. This manifesto is all about feedback and is central to the AMPLIFY community. I really believe in this manifesto outside of just my project and I hope that you enjoy it! It’s still a work in progress, so I’d love to hear your thoughts on it too, even if you don’t agree at all! Also, If you want to find out any more about my project, you can watch the promo video here! Enjoy!

AMPLIFY is a community of like-minded, creative individuals who are committed to fostering and supporting other creatives and their work through the act of feedback and constructive critique. Feedback truly becomes valuable when we come together with the intent of understanding, identifying opportunity, exploring, and building up those we work with. Therefore, we believe that it’s time to put our own egos down, place the race to the top aside and instead come together to selflessly work towards progress and growth in our creative practices.

In order to be united and together confront the present state of feedback among creatives we must first lay our egos aside. The world of artists, designers, musicians and writers has unfortunately become a competitive one fuelled by a culture of grades, a lack of available jobs, and the individual insecurity of creatives. These professionals begin to compare themselves to others, fighting for their right to make it and disregarding the others around them attempting to do the same. AMPLIFY believes that the creative process cannot be a selfish one. Alone we can do so little yet together we can do so much, therefore we believe that the quest for success is best approached side by side.

We, the undersigned, are artists and designers alike who have been brought up in a world where awkward silence often follows a demand for feedback; where the critique process can be one of stress, avoided eye-contact and half-assed mumbled replies that “um… it’s cool.” We have sat in the back of meeting rooms and studio classes watching as people’s brains run at a thousand miles per hour attempting to conjure up some profound words of wisdom, and cringed as the work sits untouched, its creator directionless and lost. We have also been the hapless creator, simultaneously desperate for guidance and terrified of the potential responses, exhausted enough by the whole experience that we can’t even remember what was said, let alone process what to do next. These torturous experiences have left us frustrated, writhing in our seats before questioning, “why does it have to be like this?!” The answer, in our eyes, is that in fact it doesn’t have to be like this at all. To us the feedback process has the potential to be an experience filled with productivity, excitement, fun and progress, where participants are united by the thrill of what could be possible, excited by the potential of new ideas and driven by the promise of a collective elevation.

This manifesto is a rallying cry to designers, musicians, artist, photographers and all other creatives to join the cause and commit to supporting their peers. We call on all creatives to take a stand and join us by following these key principles:

We always share our work in progress.

Because feedback is vital for improvement, we strive for progress. As creatives we strive to do better, create better and be better. We obsess over the technique of our brush stroke, the intonation of our melody and the pace of our manuscript. We look to those above us to teach us the ways of the wise. All of this means nothing, however, if we do not critique the imperfections in our painting, singing or writing. To acknowledge the gaps, survey the room for improvement and feed back into the piece, is to create space for growth. We are crying out to all creatives with a declaration that progress doesn’t exist without feedback, and a motivation to strive for greater things through constructive critique. Since this feedback is so vital to the creative process we urge creatives to boldly push the upload button. The reward far outweighs the risk when it comes to feedback. Even when doubt strikes, and especially when creative block kicks in, sharing ideas & work in progress is the best thing a creative can do. We strongly believe that good feedback is the fundamental key to improvement, so we should always share our work.

We always say yes to feedback.

Because we’re stronger together, we commit to helping others. We are dedicated to fostering a community of selfless, helpful creatives with a greater investment in the collective growth of the group than of the individual success of themselves. It bodes far greater for each creative to lay their ego aside and put their hand out in support of another, helping them up and standing by them throughout the journey. Every artist, designer, writer and photographer is worth as much as the next, their voices warranting equal volume. As creatives work together with others, encouraging and inspiring them to improve and grow, we too in turn will mature not only in our creative practice, but as people and members of society. To help one another, we always respond to requests for feedback from our peers. We understand that it’s not always possible, but we commit to helping as much and as often as possible. Whether straight away or just before the time runs out, we give our all to provide the most helpful, productive feedback for our fellow creatives. We strive to live in a world where creativity is about community, not competition, so we always say yes.

We always honour our peers.

Because we recognise the fear of putting your work out there, we celebrate bravery. We have each experienced the heart-pounding, voice-trembling, hands-shaking fear of sharing your work. As creatives, we understand and recognise the nervousness attached to the act of presentation and even when the work doesn’t require a formal presentation, the challenge of putting your precious work out into the world is a daring one of its own. Therefore, together we celebrate bravery. We acknowledge the leap of faith a creative must take before clicking the upload button or revealing their presentation and we applaud those who do. We start our conversations with a genuine compliment and a well done to our peers for stepping out and taking a leap of faith. They have taken a risk by sharing their work and deserve to be rewarded for their bravery, therefore we congratulate them and give them the best feedback that we can. It takes great courage to allow oneself to become vulnerable and, for that, we always honour our peers.

We always read carefully.

Because we want to make the best decisions, we listen before speaking. One of the sincerest forms of respect is actually listening to what one another has to say. When giving feedback we must listen to the heart of the creative, hearing their cry and following their journey. As a creative, we must listen closely to the thoughts and ideas being discussed by our peers before responding with debate, defence or deliberation. Listening to one another will allow more considered, calculated responses and strategies in the quest for progress. Most importantly, we implore all creatives to listen with the intent to understand, not with the intent to reply. Read the description of the work provided by the creative, understand who the target audience is, pay attention to the type of feedback requested and the question asked, in order to make the most informed observations of the work itself. We believe that we learn from listening and therefore in order to understand the best way forward, we must hear where the work is taking us. We must grasp the intent of the project in order to make the most informed decisions, therefore, we always read carefully.

We always use positive language.

Because mean criticism helps no one, we build each other up with constructive critique. In a world full of criticism and judgement we call for an environment of positive constructive feedback focused not on the creator, but on the work created. We believe that feedback should be directed towards the work and its potential, rather than the creative and what they may have done right or wrong. In this critique there is no need to be cruel or bring others down as this helps no one and is contradictory to the values we hold. We don’t use any harsh names, rude comments or mean judgements. We believe in honest feedback and objective advice. We have concluded that there is no failure, only feedback, calling for a safe, comfortable environment filled with positive, forward-thinking, progress-focused creatives bound for success. We have a desire to create a safe space of mutual respect where we use constructive criticism to improve the work and grow the artist, so we always use positive language.

We always critique the work, never its creator.

Because feedback should be objective, we separate ourselves from the work. When providing critique, the responses must not be a reflection of personal preference or stylistic inclination, but objective, constructive thoughts which aim to progress the work and push the creative direction. In order to maintain an objective perspective and allow space for constructive criticism to take place, it is vital as a creator not to take these responses personally. To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong, gain the courage to let go of certainty and welcome the critique which highlights the shortcomings of our work. Critique is about the work, not the creator, therefore we believe that creatives must remove themselves from the role of maker when engaging in moments of feedback. We direct our comments towards the project and focus on its own merits, separate from any opinions or thoughts we may have of the creative. Encouragements for the creative are great, however, when discussing the work, we avoid addressing our peers. We strive for objectivity and encourage improvement, so we always critique the work, never its creator.

We always find at least one element with potential.

Because we focus on the positive, we look for exciting opportunities in the work. The ability to acknowledge the moments which are not working is a pertinent one, however, learning to identify the areas of potential keeps the feedback focused on progress, innovation and improvement. We believe in finding these potential-filled moments, exploring them further and expanding them into exciting new ideas. For those areas that may not be as successful, we advocate that the best critique is often a better solution. Rather than highlighting the shortcomings of the work, creatives must search for potential improvements, ideas or options that will maintain momentum and inspire innovation. Particularly when the feedback requested is focused on the positives, possibilities or next steps, we urge creatives to look through an optimistic lens. We can always find a glimmer of excitement, a drop of interest or a twinkle of gold. There is no such thing as failure and we strongly discourage giving up, therefore, we always find at least one element with potential.

We always share our wildest ideas.

Because we never know what could work, we keep our minds open. Creativity is inventing, experimenting, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes and having fun. Often the best answer to your creative question is something that you never thought would work. We are rallying all creatives to question without fear, try without doubt and explore without hesitation. We implore you to try something different even if you are unsure whether it will work. Share those wild ideas, brainstorm those ridiculous concepts and debate those insane possibilities. Send a crazy long message full of insane ideas, share a video describing your wild vision, or doodle loopy drawings all over to get your concept across. Actions speak louder than words, so get together, test some new ideas and be excited to fail fast and learn even faster. We believe that the future belongs to the curious and success belongs to the bold, so we always share our wildest ideas.

We always include a word of encouragement.

Because we all need support, we encourage our peers. Creativity can be a tiresome venture at times, as we become weary from hard work, overwhelmed by the unknown and burdened by self-doubt. To keep the energy up and the work flowing requires commitment, dedication, inspiration and motivation, often which is difficult to muster alone. Thus, the support of others is paramount. We believe that creatives all over the world, whether young, old, established, new, freelancing, in an agency, contracting, studying, confident, nervous, doubtful or certain, need to be surrounded by a community of supportive individuals with a passion for their success and happiness as much as their own. We implore all creatives to step out, lift up your voice and stand beside our peers. Uplift and encourage them, motivate and inspire them, reassure them and urge them to keep going. Tell them they’ve done a great job, high five them for the improvements they’ve made, or motivate them to keep going when things get tough. We all need support and for this reason, we always include a word of encouragement.

We always make a plan.

Because we know how it feels to be stuck, we organise the next steps. We are committed to providing each creative with the necessary steps to move forward and progress their work. Discussions around which feedback has been the most relevant and appropriate to take forward or which points of critique have the highest priority for development should be completed at the end of a feedback moment in order to ensure this is maintained. We suggest things to try next, steps to take to reach goals and envision a journey the best result together. We add these things to our to-do-lists and continually move forward. We believe that no creative should feel stuck and that with the help of a supportive community, any creative block can be conquered. No creative should ever leave a feedback session unsure about where to go next, questioning what they should be working on or without steps for moving forward, so we always make a plan.

With all this in mind, we propose to all creatives, that now is the time to amplify. Turn up the volume, share your work and raise your voice.

Together, we AMPLIFY.

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