What is a critique?

One of the most valuable segments during the process of creation in any fashion. A critique can serve many purposes from re-igniting a spark, to correcting an issue that is not aesthetically pleasing. If you are any artist or designer, you have been in that spot where you’ve been working on something way too long and you’re stuck. It usually isn’t until someone gives that actionable critique that you will regain the interest or inspiration to improve the work. A critique can also provide value in many ways, again re-igniting a spark or building confidence or even building your skill as an artisan.

So what is a critique, is it just a word that’s nearly 400 years old, or does it have meaning? Google defines a critique as, “a detailed analysis and assessment of something.” Merriam-Webster defines it as “an act of criticizing” and includes a more detailed “English Language Learners” definition of “a careful judgement in which you give your opinion about the good and bad parts of something (such as a pice of writing or work of art).” This last definition captures so much of the true meaning and fear of a critique. It almost captures the thought process someone will go through when giving a critique. Why is it a “careful judgement?” Well, as a critiquer, you do not want to offend the creator of the work. The critiquer also has a need to be accurate in their feedback and not lead someone astray.

When it comes down to what a critique really is, it’s an opinion. It can be one person’s opinion, or it can be the opinion of the masses. That opinion can be informed by so many things from artistic experience, to what someone wrote about you on the bathroom wall in high school.

Most importantly, a critique is value. Sometimes a critique can help you get through some real tough projects, form long lasting professional relationships and improve the quality of your work. So when you are critiquing, be sure to be fair, kind and honest.