Critique Guidelines

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It is important to be able to evaluate whether things “work” and why, and equally important to be able to “hear” what others have to say about your work.


Be able to describe what you see and hear.

Sometimes the simple act of stating the “obvious” is a key to unlocking the meaning of a work. What are the characteristics of what you perceive?
  • Color, contrast, line, texture, composition
  • Movement, duration, change over time, frequency and type of change
  • Timbre, pitch, beats, complexity
  • Relationship of visual to aural

Make a judgment about what you see/hear. “I like it” is not enough.

  • What do you like about it?
  • Why is that appealing?
  • What don’t you like? (be honest or it’s not useful for the maker)
  • What would you suggest be changed?
  • How does form relate to content?
Has the maker created a work that uses some essential feature of the medium?
  • Meaning – does the work say something important, do you care about what it says? (Has the maker made you care?)

In general, be positive and constructive, but don’t hold back negative criticism. It’s important to give honest feedback. That doesn’t mean you can’t be tactful, though.

Also, consider the work in the context of the maker’s intention.


Show your work and listen. Don’t jump right into defending or explaining it.

When people talk about your work, pay attention. Don’t be defensive.

Take notes yourself, or ask a fellow student to take notes for you. It can be hard to hear what people have to say about your work, but getting feedback is an invaluable help in the process of creation. Come back to the written comments after a few days, when you have a little distance on the work and the experience of the critique.