I'm a creative director at Laughing Samurai. I bark orders. Sometimes people listen. Sometimes they don't. When they play nice, I pay with pizza. And sometimes with Nachos. Hell, sometimes even Beer. Wanna work with me? Let's do this.

Haters gonna hate!

Don't be a jackass. Learn how to properly critique.

As creatives we are compelled to critique. It’s basically hardwired in our brains. Is it because, as creatives, we have an innate need to be heard? Is it because we believe things can always be done better? Who knows. At least I don’t. What I do know is that some creatives tend to go for the jugular when it comes to offering criticism on someone’s work. Maybe out of jealousy. Maybe because we feel we could have done it better. Whatever the case, I feel that negative feedback is not a critique. Not only is it destructive to the person receiving it (no matter how much they “ignore” it), but it doesn’t help the creative and personal growth of the person dishing it out.

Although I never willingly offer critique on work unless asked to do so, there are a few guidelines I go by to offer constructive criticism. I’ve used these guidelines to offer direction to my team. These guidelines have evolved, and will continue to do so, as I try out new things to get the results I want.

Always start with a positive

Quickly scan and examine the piece for something that strikes you in a good way. See what those things are and make sure to let the person know that you like that particular thing about it.

Validate a connection to the piece of work

Once you’ve examined the piece, try to interpret something about it. Whether obvious or not, right or wrong, it doesn’t matter. Letting the person know that you know what they did, helps them know if they are on the right track or not.

Be honest

Don’t hold back your thoughts. Say what’s on your mind.

Keep your personal taste out of it

The reality is that you don’t have to like it to offer critique. You should be able to intelligently offer criticism based on what you know the person’s objectives are and whether the person is close to meeting those objectives or not.

It ain’t easy

Always remember that there is a direct correlation between the amount of time spent working on a piece and the amount of emotional investment the person has on this piece of work. Tread carefully through the criticism, so it does not become a heated debate.

Always follow a critique with a solution

When getting ready to voice concern over something you dislike, it is always best to follow it by some way of solving it. The whole “I don’t know what it is, I just don’t like it” approach is not only incredibly annoying to the person on the receiving end, but it offers no real value on next steps. Ask for more time. It is better to spend some time with it than to go from the gut.