“Is That Supposed to be a Person or a Monster?”

In art school, a critical part of all studio classes is the critique. You pin up your work on the wall and as a class you and the instructor collectively offer feedback on everyone’s work. 

By necessity, you learn how to not only receive feedback, but also give it. You can imagine both the opportunity for generosity and praise as well as mortification and shame. I remember in an early illustration class, one student was asked if the figure in their drawing was supposed to be a person or a monster, as it wasn’t really clear due to their yet-undeveloped drawing skills. 

I look back on this incident and realize that while the feedback giver was well meaning, and this was not said in spite, it could have (and probably was) taken the wrong way. 

A better way might have been to ask “What is this about and what are you trying to say?” By opening up the chance for possibility, you’re not only less likely to hurt someone else’s feelings, but you’re also not biasing them towards what they might perceive as the answer you’re expecting.

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