How to have confidence in your work and take constructive criticism?


Hi all!

I am new to this forum, I've really enjoyed looking through the posts and feel it will be invaluable to get feedback using it in future. I am a recent graduate, I have had 6 months in house experience and I have now got a job within an independent studio starting in December. This was my goal so I am really pleased and happy.

My first question is how to have confidence in your work and back up your designs?

I am quite nervous about starting, as I don't like the 'competition of egos' that can sometimes come with the industry. I am quite a sensitive designer, and I sometimes struggle to take constructive criticism. I know as a designer it is invaluable and I always want to make sure I get feedback on my work. I know its an industry where you continue to grow and develop and there are so many endless things to learn which I love. The only thing is I can get quite defensive when someone offers feedback, if they don't balance it with something positive about my work. Does anyone have advice on how to combat this?

My second question goes hand in hand with this; I want to learn to give constructive criticism. I find if I am in a creative meeting and asked to give feedback on the spot, my mind will go blank. Whereas if I go away and really think about it, I may be able to be a bit more helpful. Will this just come with time?

Thanks in advance :) really looking forward to your replies
Hey there,

First of all you have got to remember that it is all opinions at the end of the day. Yes there is good and bad design, and if you produce something that is awfully bad, as someone who has studied the subject, I think deep down you will know yourself before anyone else tells you. Other than that, it may be uncertainties you may have or just need general help/tips. No one becomes good overnight and even the best pieces of design can be negatively criticised. Don't take it to heart or let it get you down, see it as a push to produce better and learn from it. Let your last piece of design be your worst and the next piece the best you have ever created.

Also, just because someone has an opinion doesn't mean they are right (whether good or bad), although if a lot of people are of the same option then it should be taken more seriously. There is a difference between criticism and constructive criticism; you should always welcome constructive criticism if not how else are you going to improve?

There are two types of people I avoid when asking for opinions: 1/ People who only ever have negative things to say 2/ People who only ever have positive things to say. They are both equally useless and lend no real solutions for improvement.

Another thing is, don't underestimate the opinion of 'non-designers' as their opinion can be just as valuable as a designers. It is important as, 9/10 times it is people who do not know anything about design, who we are designing for, not other designers.
Criticism is part of the creative process: you engage in it constantly as you work. If you're fully conscious of the decisions that inform what you do and can articulate your reasons for running with some ideas and rejecting others, you'll become more confident in what you're doing, in discussing what you've done, and in evaluating and responding to critics. Constructive criticism is that which you understand and appreciate in terms of its value to your own work/practice, but not all criticism is valuable and the only real way to respond to it is through belief in your work, built on a platform of demonstrably sound creative decisions.
From my experience, the ones with the egos are often those who don't have a clue what they're talking about. They just act like they do.

Take on board what they say, but also stick to your own guns. If you're happy with a design and feel it answers the brief, then go with it. My tutor in uni would often suggest changes I didn't always agree with. I had a rule that I was going to produce work I was confident in talking about. I didn't want to sit there talking someone through a piece of work I knew I didn't like because it was a changed to please a tutor. Often I'd ask the designer critiquing my portfolio what they thought about the suggestion. Opinions were mixed so you can't please everyone.

You have to be able to talk people confidently through your portfolio, and you can't do that with work you're not 100% happy with.