The Minted community is about paying it forward in more ways than one, and because feedback is so critical to the creative process, we award Critique Awards to artists who provide quality feedback on other artists’ submissions.
Curious about what’s considered the best way to provide and receive helpful feedback? We’ve compiled the following tips, with the help of seasoned Minted artists.
1. Be Specific
When asking for feedback on your submission page, don’t be vague by asking questions such as “Do you like this?” or “What do you think?” Instead, focus on specific points such as color, style and fonts. “If you feel something is not working in your design, you should have some idea where the problem is,” says longtime Minted artist Phrosné Ras. “For example, ask something like, ‘Do you think the script font is working as the heading or should I use sans serif?’”
Same goes for providing feedback to others—aim to be the opposite of ambiguous. Thoughtful observations and pointed suggestions for improvement are more helpful than saying, “I don’t love it.” And keep in mind that basic pointers mean a lot to new designers.
2. Start a Poll
Minted artists are busy during challenges, so a quick way to give and get feedback is to start a Design Poll, which allows artists to upload up to four versions of a design, and invite others to rate each version. You’ll receive the feedback below your design in the Comments section.
“Giving someone a broad critique of their work takes a lot of time,” says Jill Ellis. “But helping them choose one typeface over the other or vertical vs. landscape or red vs. green in a poll—that’s much more manageable.”
In the above poll comments, Kelly Schmidt shares her poll pick and critique of Simona Cavallaro’s award-winning “Bold Dots” design. “While the feedback is all positive, I like that Kelly explained the reasons why she chose this,” Simona says. “The fact that she pointed out ‘hey baby’ is more unique than ‘oh baby’ solidified my decision to use it. I like to do things differently than the crowd, so this feedback helped me feel more confident about that.”
3. Be Objective
As challenging as it may be, try to put aside your personal tastes. For example, if you dislike frogs, try not to let that taint your opinion of a design featuring amphibians.
Lindsay Megahed says it’s particularly important to think about objectivity in the art category. “With design, there are often elements that are either working or not,” she says. “With art, something wrong to one viewer can feel right to another.”
No matter what, adds Simona Cavallaro, “I always try to stick to the integrity of someone’s design and hold myself back from infusing my style into my critique.”
4. It’s Not Just What You Say But How You Say It
Though it can be difficult to convey a friendly tone on the Internet, remember that people tend to be sensitive. If you have positive and negative criticism, consider sharing both sentiments. At the same time, keep an open mind when you’re on the receiving end of criticism. “Feedback is meant to equip all of us with more confidence for finding the right approach to each design—whether we agree with the feedback or not,” says Simona.
Also, if you think someone’s design is similar to another design, fill out the Designs to Flag for Review form instead of commenting about it.
5. Stay Active in the Minted Community
One of the most effective ways to garner feedback is to be an active participant and communicator on Minted. “I think if you leave helpful comments on others’ work, they will be more likely to return the favor,” says Sarah Curry.
In addition to the critiquing phase of challenges, you can connect in the Minted Community Facebook Group, where Minties share news and advice, and each challenge has a thread where designers post links to polls and requests for feedback on Minted. Just be sure to delete your poll link once your poll is closed. Learn how to join the Facebook group here.
6. Reach Out to Artists You Admire
Would you like feedback from a specific designer or artist? Before contacting the designer via the Comments section of their designer page, be sure the person you’re trying to connect with is actively submitting to the current challenge. If a designer is sitting out a challenge, he or she is likely busy at the moment.
7. Chime in On Others’ Feedback
Do you find yourself agreeing or disagreeing with someone else’s comment? If so, say so. Lindsay Megahed says she finds it especially helpful when community members second someone else’s feedback.
8. Be Honest About Rating Feedback “Constructive”
The definition of constructive is “serving a useful purpose.” Keep this in mind when clicking the “constructive” button on the feedback you receive in addition to feedback on other community submissions. “Otherwise, it just becomes a popularity contest with who can add the most comments,” says Simona Cavallaro. “This also encourages more people to be really thoughtful with their feedback and helps the community grow as a whole.”
9. Follow Up—to a Point
A helpful comment can be great on its own, but following up multiple times as an artist revises her design is especially valuable.
Just don’t go overboard. A critique that suggests recreating an entire design is not helpful, says Simona. “When another designer makes suggestions to change everything—even if it’s for the better—you’re not really helping the designer grow. You’re doing the work for them.”
Lehan Veenker’s design (above left) is the first version of a wedding invitation submission. After receiving feedback from the Minted community, Lehan created seven versions of the original, which resulted in her award-winning “Kraft Florals” design (above right). View the community comments here.
10. Express Yourself in the Form of Likes
If you’re already in the habit of clicking the “Like” button to signify your favorite design submissions, keep it up. Many artists interpret likes as a form of feedback.
Lindsay says she knows from experience that likes don’t always determine if an artist will get a pick or if a certain piece will sell. “But because art can be so subjective, I’ve found that my submissions accumulating more likes are telling me that I’m reaching a wider audience and that lets me know if I’m going in the right direction in regards to the subject, style, or overall mood of the piece,” she says.
You’ll ice the critiquing cake if you follow up in comments to say why you like the submission.
These are just 10 of our favorite tips—we’re sure you have even more. How should feedback differ in various Minted categories (stationery, art, and fabric) and media (photography, painting, graphic arts, etc.)? Share your thoughts in Comments below.
About the Author: Amy Schroeder, Minted’s Community Content Manager, founded Venus, the magazine about women in the arts and DIY culture, and has written for Etsy, West Elm, and NYLON. What kind of educational content would help you? Email your requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published July 1, 2015 • Learn how to become a Minted artist here.2 COMMENTS