Dear Designer, You Suck

Sometimes I wonder, then: given that everyone in design seems to more or less know everyone else, are we really having the kinds of meaningful, constructive, critical discourses that we really should be having? Are we too quick to take offense at the opinions of our peers? Or are we pulling our punches too much when discussing the merits of the work that our peers turn out? To put a finer point on it: are we being honest with one another?

The notion of speaking openly, honestly and objectively about work is inherent to learning how to be a better designer. That’s why every design school uses critiques as a core tool of teaching design. Critiques conducted amongst peers, people you know, people that you have to see again the next day in class, that you have to build relationships with. If you’re learning design, then you’re giving and receiving criticism regularly. If you’re not engaging in constructive criticism, then you just aren’t learning about design. And yet, at some point when a designer achieves some modest level of notoriety or establishes some foundation of peers in the industry, the critiques stop. If you’re a practicing graphic designer of more than say five years, it’s a pretty good bet that no one outside of your design practice actively and regularly provides you with objective, rational and lucid feedback.

Dear Designer, You Suck, by Khoi Vinh

6 Comments leave a comment below

  1. That’s boo-schwa. We get feedback all day every day from lots of people. They are called “clients” and “co-workers” and “fellow designers”. If you do engaging work, people start talking. If you seek out critique, you can get it, AND HOW. But it is important to differentiate between opinions and critique.

  2. personally, even when im not receiving outside feedback from others i continually put myself through routine critiques because i know for a fact that i have and never will create a perfect piece of work. with that in mind there is always room to criticize myself even if critiques were to stop from outside sources.

  3. Dear TIna,
    Your links…. no I’m done :)

    Thank you so much for having me speak yesterday. You rock.

  4. the professional world is different from school and understandably so. i actually hate soft-balling critiques, but i also only want that kind of honesty from people i trust and respect.

  5. Everyone can criticize but only a few can come up with a constructive suggestion and opinions. I rather listened to those few.

  6. Tina-
    I just came across a similar reference in this month’s Swedish magazine Form published by Svensk Form. Apparently some Swedish designers who had products previously critiqued by the magazine will no longer allow themselves to be interviewed by the magazine. Especially disappointing behavior as Form exists to provide a forum and raise awareness for Swedish design.

    I don’t think any of our brightest trend setters would want to advocate this kind of groupthink.

    Good discussion topic!