Critiquing is a vital part of being an artist. Constructive criticism from different perspectives can help improve any creative project, and client, patron or employer feedback is a daily reality in the art and design industries. In a recent vlog for SVA Student Life’s fall 2020 Virtual Orientation, BFA Animation Chair Hsiang Chin Moe (MFA 2008 Computer Art) and BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects Chair Jimmy Calhoun (BFA 2003 Animation) discussed the benefits of positive critiquing for incoming students.
“As you’re coming into an art school, [critiquing] is going to be a really big part of how you learn and grow,” Calhoun says. Students may be uncomfortable giving and receiving critiques at first, especially for those who are new to the process. The essential element to any successful critique, Moe notes, is a focus on the art, and not the artist. “It is a really important practice process to take yourself away from the artwork, and let everyone look at the work itself,” she says.
Though insightful criticism needn’t—and shouldn’t—be severe, Moe and Calhoun agree that students do a disservice to their peers if they are overly fearful of hurting their feelings. Honest and helpful comments, presented with understanding and kindness, can immeasurably aid artists′ development and self-knowledge, and build a mutually supportive creative community.
The goal, both say, is to be brave, respectful and considerate in critiques, to create a welcoming and healthy space in which everyone can encourage each other’s growth. “I like to tell my students in our classroom: This is a place where you can come with all of your ideas, nothing’s off-limits,” Calhoun says. “Let’s bring it all to the table. ... We want you to feel safe to do that.”
Watch the full video below to hear more about Moe’s and Calhoun’s approaches to the critiquing process.