As a designer, I am constantly asked -“So, what’s your opinion on this design? “…. Hmmmm these are the times I actually wonder whether they are really asking, or if it is just a formality! Infact the other options I can think of are, maybe they’re taking a poll on how many more people like something… and during conversation, they can tell – Oh you know the designer Bargs? Even she liked it! Gosh!! I hate being caught in such sticky situations….
No way am I endorsing a bad design! Or atleast what I consider not good enough! Call me a snob or someone who feels superior when it comes to design for I have very clear likes and dislikes…. If a design or a product is ordinarily designed or executed, I might really have nothing much to say! Most of these people who want feedback, want to hear me say “Oh Wow…its really nice”. Little do they understand that its embarrassing for a designer who knows better to mince words! If I stay quiet, just know that I have nothing good to say, and leave me alone! The famous “I scratch your back and you scratch mine” does not work for me….
I was a lecturer for two and a half years in Singapore…. One of the feedback I received as a student, from both my classmates and faculty was, I had to learn to give constructive criticism. While I got all defensive initially, I learnt the importance of it. As a lecturer, I had the opportunity of putting that learning into action. Had a brilliant time grooming young designers :) Also, I realised how much it helped me open out to various approaches to design. With every new batch I would be teaching, I would tell all my students that I am opinionated, but objective about it… for they need to understand that here is someone who has an opinion, but who is open to hearing their thoughts and approach to design… But, here’s the catch, it would not be possible for me to do the same with the general jantha that asks me for an opinion.
Design is subjective. Its probably best not to ask one designer’s opinion of another designer’s work. There are a few things that might happen… 1. Every designer approaches design differently. Until and unless the other designer understands this approach, a feedback would be an unfair feedback. 2. Every designer has their own style… Which is signature! It would be inappropriate to make comments being a designer. 3. It can cause problems in interpersonal relationship…. No one wants to be told what they designed or bought was not good….What could be worse is to be shot down for giving true feedback! Save everyone embarrassments please :)
You might wonder, why am I writing this blog! I’m now becoming a columnist and as a part of my job, my opinion is sought on other’s designs and execution. It is nothing but a design review. Otherwise, I am not interested in sitting and crossing swords with the people involved ! If my opinion is sought during design stage, it is possible to step in and help, but post execution, it might not be unfair on both the designer and the client. The money has been spent and then what’s the point?
Whether you’re an relative or a friend of a designer, know that you’re putting the designer on the spot…. Sometimes there can be a situational or a physical impossibility to redesign based on a designer’s feedback. If the final product turns out bad, it could rupture a designer’s credibility, especially if its in the areas of applied design. I don’t mean to talk down to people who want suggestions, but do know that someone’s professionalism is at stake here….
As a designer, part of my job is to have an opinion. It is probably important to be aware of one’s tolerance level to take criticism before you ask for feedback… Truth can be bitter and its unfair to shoot the person showing you the mirror (remember, you asked for it??).. This is a sensitive zone and either stay happy with the designer you’ve employed for the job or replace with the one you’ve faith in… Please be easy on artists, designers and copywriters… :D I seem to be getting the same feedback from everyone in the profession! Glad its not just me, but I know that I’m the only one who will say it :)