Tim Gunn + Lynda Barry on CritiqueTim Gunn + Lynda Barry on Critique

Tim Gunn + Lynda Barry on Critique

“I went through two years of studio critiques while getting my Master’s degree in design, and have been through dozens of them in the five years since then, but I can honestly say I’ve learned more about how to appropriately give design criticism from Tim Gunn, one of the hosts of the US television show Project Runway.”

Tell me more: Dan Saffer’s short essay about learning how to give constructive feedback is one of our favorites for using with young people. The lessons are simple – “The purpose of a critique is to make the design better” – and are a helpful way to prompt feedback beyond “I like it.” It’s also useful to watch clips from the show (http://www.bravotv.com/project-runway) to understand Tim Gunn’s approach when he’s in conversation with a designer. Find the entire essay at http://www.kickerstudio.com/2010/11/everything-ive-ever-learned-about-giving-design-critiques-i-learned-from-tim-gunn/ or a PDF, here.

We also appreciate Lynda Barry’s position on what it means to “like” and “not like” creative work. “Liking and not liking can make us blind to what’s there,” she says. (Photo excerpts of this essay, from her book Syllabus, are at left and the full five-page essay is available here.)

Finally, we also use the critique protocol described by comic artists Jessica Abel and Matt Madden in their excellent Drawing Words and Writing Pictures. They offer tips on critiquing, being critiqued, and helpful sentence starters. Their protocol is available here.

Classroom applications: In our experience, young people – and adults – often struggle to offer and accept feedback that will improve the work. We appreciate the sentence starters from Madden and Abel, and the habits of mind that Saffer helps us see in Tim Gunn. We believe that giving and receiving feedback that comes from a place of empathy is central to a creative practice.

Going further:

  • Dan Shaffer’s blog post, “Everything I’ve Ever Learned About Giving Design Critiques I Learned From Tim Gunn,” PDF
  • Lynda Barry, “On Liking and Not Liking”, PDF
  • Jessica Abel and Matt Madden, “Homework Critiques”, PDF