Critique Tips

Posted by on Dec 24, 2011 in Tips | No Comments

Outline

  • What is a critique
  • Pointers to aid in critiques and tips you can apply to your own artworks
  • Creative ways to enhance a piece

Below I will try to point out tips that you can mention in your critiques and which you can also apply to your own artwork to help build on the structure of your critiques and works specifically in online communities and throughout. It is lengthy so therefore I have added some inspiring artwork from artists on Shadowness.com

These are my personal tips that I have learnt and picked up during the course of my experience, you do not have to follow my format, they are simply guides, most of these tips can be applied to almost any medium of art/literature, and you don’t have to include all of it in a critique. If you think there is any I left out that could be added or addressed do comment below and let me know.

 

What is a critique?

My definition, since others I found are quite vague: A critique is basically a written or verbal analysis which is intended to help an artist improve, not just to point out every flaw or every remarkable thing you could find about a specific piece, be it literature or art, but rather say why you think the piece is effective or suggest what you think could be done to improve the piece. The critic should at least have the knowledge and understanding about the medium they are critiquing.

 

When critiquing

  • Look at the category and experience level

Make it a point to check the category the work is placed in, this will allow you to critique according to what the category the artist considers the piece to fall under. Also check for the artist’s experience level, remember that aspiring artists should be critiqued differently than professional artists, they are both on different skill levels.

For artists, be sure you have placed or labelled your work in the appropriate gallery for your benefit; seek opinions if you are unsure. Make a note somewhere about your skill level, it can be mentioned somewhere in your artist comment indirectly.

  • Read the artist’s comment

Be sure you have read the artist’s comment; it is pointless and embarrassing to address things in your critique while the artist have acknowledged and explained their concept, use of media, difficulty they faced, things they had wished to fix and you have pointed those things out again.

For artists, if you have requested critiques, be sure to write a description about your artwork including the things I mentioned above, such as your aim, medium(a), difficulties you faced and whether you either arrived at a solution or resolution.

If you took inspiration from another artwork or art movement include it. If you have used stock be sure to link back to the original source.

  • Try to be as objective as you can

Take note that every one of us are different, we each share different cultures, we’re all different ages, different gender, different preferences and we all think differently. So bare in mind when you give critiques to be as objective as you possibly can when advising (you can always let the artist know how the piece makes you feel), unless it’s a conceptual piece and the artist specifically requests your personal opinion (emotional attachment) and thoughts on the piece.

 

Points to consider in your works
and also when you give critiques

  • Impact

The power of making a strong, immediate impression – How do you want the piece to strike your target? As the critic, how does the piece strike you? Has the artist reached their aim – to evoke a response such as fear, anger, relief, happiness, disturbance etc.?


  •  Approach

The method used in dealing with or accomplishing – Is the approach an appropriate format for the media, the concept? Could they/you have chosen a different perspective, angle? Is it supposed to be tame, vivid, bland, wild, soft, harsh? If spot colouring was used, is it purposeful? If copy (words) have been used, is it effective enough, is it understandable?

 

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  • Content

The substantive or meaningful part – choice and placement of subject/object within the piece, is it appropriate? Has the position of the elements been set up well? Can it be placed a different way to enhance the effect? Note, do not bring personal issues in to the choice of the subject when critiquing, please do not insult the model or artist, critique the work.



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  • Concept

The intention to convey a message or a meaning specifically – How strong, effective and thorough is the message/meaning? How does it relate to the artist’s comments? Does the artist’s statement and concept connect?


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  • Composition

The combining/relation of distinct parts or elements to form a whole – Includes balance, content, colours, framing (cropping), use of depth of field, focal point and technical focus, aperture and shutter speed, perspective, rule of thirds. How are these distributed and utilised? Do they combine together to create a successful piece, is it scattered/off target? Is the subject positioned correctly within the space, are there elements that distract from the focal point?


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  • Colour

Harmony, contrasts, emotive use, hue, brightness, and saturation. Appropriate use? Too little or too much colour, wrong/right placement of colour? Colour can create a dramatic or a calm atmosphere, how it used within art impacts the message of the work and the mood of the viewer.


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  • Balance/Equilibrium

is a state in which opposing tendencies are equal or at least proportionate according to how the eye sees things – use of colour(s), texture(s), pattern(s), space [positive and negative space/symmetry and asymmetry, room for the eye to travel, rule of thirds], weight [distribution of elements (objects/subjects) within the piece]. The use of balance is heavily influenced by how you also compose your piece along with the use of light and other factors. Without balance the image could either loose all or gain all impact.

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Some aspects that can be found in works (mainly in abstract and literary works), note that every artwork may either contain a minimum amount or no amount of these. Rhythm (The pattern of development produced in a literary or dramatic work by repetition of elements such as words, phrases, incidents, themes, images, and symbols) Flow (Continuity and smoothness of appearance) andVibe (energy)


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  • Lighting

Diffused, directional/task, ambient, accent, flash, natural. Are these appropriate for the concept/subject? Has it been utilised effectively? Does it need to be implemented in the piece? Light and shadows also create a specific atmosphere, so be sure to utilise and bare in mind the type of lighting being used.



 
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  • Presentation

Way in which the work is displayed – The border around the piece, collages, diptychs and triptychs (photo essay). Is it necessary? Does it distract from the piece? Do the photos or artwork in the diptychs/triptychs relate and connect with each other or tell a story? Will one image suffice? The key important factor is the quality of work, how you arrange and present it to your audience is crucial to being successful and professional.

 


 
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  • Uses

You can point out some suggestions of what you think the piece could be used for, like a book cover, graphic novel, spread, campaign ad, postcard etc.

 

Creative ways to enhance a piece

  •  Juxtaposition

Adjacent situation; apposition or contact. Bringing out a specific quality or creating an effect, particularly when two contrasting or opposing elements are used. The viewer’s attention is drawn to the similarities or differences between the elements. Using juxtaposition can spark an association with everyday objects and situations we are familiar with.


 
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  • Illusion

Something, such as a fantastic plan or desire, that causes an erroneous belief or perception



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  • Trick Art/Photography

Play with perspective, angles and foreshortening to give a surreal effect



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  • Originality

Coming up with fresh ideas, thinking differently from the norm


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  • Stepping away from cliché


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  • Twisting/swapping what would usually be done to something unexpected


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  •  Not being afraid to try, experiment nor make mistakes!
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Another informative article I wrote

How to Develop Concepts

I hope you have enjoyed this article and have found it to be informative and helpful, also please share it so that others can also benifit. Remember the next time you’re writing a critique or creating art, refer back to this and bare these points mind.

If you have any requests for more articles like these or tutorials, please let me know!

 

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