The Art of Feedback by Grumo

If creative freedom is heaven to the artist, feedback is the closest thing to hell on earth.
The name of the game in this business is knowing how to deal with our worst enemy, feedback.

The only way to survive a long and happy career as a creative doing commissioned work is by learning to accept, handle, respect, and even love feedback.

Not knowing how to handle feedback in an effective and professional manner will end with the wits and even careers of many proud artists.

Here are some universal aspects of feedback:

  • There is not such a thing as good or bad feedback: feedback is an opinion either by an individual or by consensus of a group
  • There is however bad and good ways of giving feedback
  • Feedback is the number one tool to reach perfection in work
  • Feedback should never be taken personally

There are two sides of the coin with feedback. Giving it and receiving it.
Here is some advice on both.

Giving Feedback:

Be specific: Address one issue per feedback item. ie: in an animation provide times as in 01:45min to address moments in an animation.
Be concise: don’t waste words sugar coating your real feelings. Get to the point.
Provide alternative solutions: help the artist move forward by providing and supporting solutions with reasons.
Be positive: be encouraging and optimistic to help motivate the artist.
Follow Up: when there is a lot of feedback is best to email it first and then set up a time to discuss the feedback over the phone or Skype. In many occasions this approach will speed up communications, avoid misunderstandings, and most importantly show that you care about the artist’s feelings.
Be professional: Respect your fellow human being. Use proper language and always spell check your emails.

Receiving Feedback:

Never take it personally: learn to detach from your art and be objective about criticism.
Disagree with reasoning: use convincing arguments providing counter-feedback. Avoid moving forward on feedback you feel will deteriorate the final product.
Establish Authority: if stuck find out who has more authority on creative decisions. Hint: the artist should typically be able to prove more authority since he/she got hired because of it.
Be professional: Respect your fellow human being. Use proper language and always spell check your emails.

Be Human: Communicate Openly: Show the Love

One of the advantages of a virtual working environment is the freedom to work from anywhere in the world (that has Internet). However, there are some disadvantages of not interacting with your peers, clients, artists face to face. We lose some of the human aspect of daily face to face interactions because it is so much easier to hide behind our computer screens and let our fingers do the talking.
When everything is flowing smoothly, clients are happy, and feedback is minimal everyone is happy working on their pijamas and using email.

However, when things turn sour and they are guaranteed to do so in about 1 out of 10 projects then email is not enough to deal with negative feedback overload and with heated emotions.

Get on a call the moment you sense tension, drama, grudges, or any kind of bad feelings are being developed between any of the parties involved in the feedback process. The sooner issues are addressed the less drama everyone will have to go through.

For your own mental health and overall level of happiness please make sure your embrace these guidelines and you will live longer as a creative in the industry and probably as a human being.

Let good feedback help us get closer to perfection!

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5 thoughts on “The Art of Feedback by Grumo

  1. elramirez Reply

    Along with feelings, they should be respectful with our time 🙂
    Clear deliverables also help mitigate frustration at the end.

    I’m curious on how you go about revisions, maybe in another post, just curious how to ease that as well.

    Thanks Miguel!

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