Skip to content

Wayne State University

Aim Higher

Nov 19 / Darryl Shreve

The Importance of Critiques

“Just as iron sharpens iron, a person sharpens the character of his friend.”

I can remember going through some of the worst critiques of my life during my undergrad days at a private art college. Spending all night on my best painting or design, only to have the instructor write on it with a black felt tip marker, which forced me to then redo it on top of the new assignment due the following week.  All during a semester in which I took 10 classes.

“Yadda yadda yadda,” my grandpa used to say, “You young-in’s got it good; I had to walk 10 miles to school in the snow, barefoot while carrying my younger sibling horsey-back style.” Exaggerations aside, the workloads I had to endure still exist. They are designed to weed out the weak and make the strong better. “Iron sharpening iron” refers to a person using an iron blade to sharpen the edge of another iron blade. It implies weaker metals won’t work. Metaphorically speaking, you need people in your life who are not afraid to put you through the fire, because this will ultimately improve your concept, increase your skill-set and maybe, just maybe help to refine your character.

For this reason, critiques are an integral part of the creative process for production as well as in many other fields.

So for those receiving the critique: Understand that “good” is subjective, but a valid critique can make any idea better. In sports, athletes are trained to push their limits of endurance. Hence, ”No pain no gain… Give me 10 more!” The critical review process does the same.  Although unpleasant, having an idea deconstructed can only serve to make it stronger. A wise man once said, “If you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” It’s good to hear different ideas.

For those giving the critique: Understand that not everyone is made of iron.

My daughter once asked me what kind of bird would I want to be. Trying to boost her ego, I told her, “something small enough for you to carry if you were a bird”.

Her reply, “Dad, eagles don’t carry eagles.” She’s right!

Just sayin’