On Giving Effective Feedback to Creatives

On Giving Effective Feedback to Creatives

Conflicted on how to provide feedback without hurting anyone's feelings? Here are some tips and steps to practice to help you provide smooth feedback.

Written by
Asma Haddad
Translated by
September 18, 2023

Working in the creative field can be tricky due to basing the assumption that creativity is linked to thinking way outside of the box and of non-conformist ideas. When it can actually be about thinking of simple ideas executed creatively.

I come from a creative past and experience. So I can understand how the creative feel and associate with feedback consumption. Now that I'm a strategist with a background in design and Art Direction, I can understand how to provide the creatives' feedback and the best way to do it. As I was at the receiving end not so long ago. 

In this article, I will walk you through the best things that I've learned and still learning on how to provide feedback to the creatives. As a Loftie, we are here to humanize our industry, so we embody it internally.

Here are some of the steps/tips that help me to provide clear and genuine feedback:

Have a clear vision and mind. 

Even if that meant for you to unwind and then return to provide it. It’s always better to have a clear mind so that the feedback can be as beneficial as possible.

Ask yourself, how can you help them? What's your intention in assisting them?

Whether you are in the position to provide feedback or were asked to, always put a genuine positive intention. You are not here to provide something out of the blue but something that can build the work.

Understand what the project/artwork is about or for.

Have a minute to brief yourself, or ask someone to inform you and guide you through the project. Then, take the time to digest the creative process, comprehend the creatives' rationale, and walk through their reasoning. Make sure to ask the right questions to better understand their perspective. Don't kill their ideas. It may solve potential issues. Turning it into a dialogue is better than having it as a one-sided critique.

The positives come first, always. 

Always start with what’s good about their work, and don’t shy away from being honest with it. Remember, most creatives put their heart into their work, and can be sensitive to feedback, so ease their way into it and put them in a receptive mode.

Always remember that clear is kind.

Tell the truth if you genuinely want to provide productive and constructive feedback. If you think they've done great work, say so. But if you think they need to make modifications, it's okay to say. 

Feedback shouldn't be about personal taste.

Not all creative work echoes with everyone. Just because a design doesn't align with your personal preferences isn't necessarily poor. Consistently say why the creative work isn't working and provide input.

Be direct and specific.

General feedback won't help a creative person push toward a final product. If anything, it might lead to confusion. Nevertheless, you can take broad criticism and turn it into better feedback by giving specific examples or pointing out where it went wrong. 

Interpret concerns, and provide solutions if required or needed..

Don't overwhelm the creatives by listing everything that needs to be changed. Instead, explain what isn't working. Walk them through your critique without offering solutions right away. If they ask for solutions, make sure to provide them. If you feel that solutions must be provided, then do it.

Big picture and end results.

Be respectful, don't shame or back anyone into a corner. Instead, present your feedback as creative ideas that will pull the work and ensure it's an easy process for everyone. Effective and clear feedback never drives someone into defensiveness.

It's a conversation, not a debate.

Ask questions, and create a dialogue. It should be a conversation between you and the creative. After you are done with the conversation, make a list that recaps the feedback notes, which will help the creative recall the specific suggestions discussed.

Emotional Intelligence is the key.

Understand what type of creative you are working with; some of them are more sensitive than the others and can take the feedback personally. While others are more receptive and appreciate it. Being emotionally intelligent and having the capability to read your surroundings and the people you are dealing with can be very helpful.

Be respectful to them and their vision.

You need to respect their instincts to provide feedback on someone else's project. After providing a review, accept that not every note will be taken. Although you have to trust another person's creative vision occasionally, don't kill their ideas immediately. There is always a way to play around with them or elaborate on them more.

In the end, the feedback needs to embrace the project's goal, and it should benefit it from many aspects. It should not only come from the mind or the heart. It should come from both, including a touch of soul. Handling projects should be something that you care about, and technically it's a client's baby. So handle it with care. 

Before I end this, I just want to send a message to the creatives:

It's not personal. Sometimes your idea doesn't work for that particular project, but it can work for another. Minor tweaks can make a huge difference, so don't disregard them. Many will see your work, so make sure you represent yourself with care.

Hope you had a good read. Looking forward to seeing you again.