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7 Steps to Conquer a Critique 

A critique, sometimes referred to as a “crit,” can be daunting in design school – especially if you aren’t prepared. During a crit, fellow students, professors, and sometimes even guest designers will observe a presentation of your latest project. Made to be constructive, they can sometimes be overwhelming, and you may lose sight of the purpose in all the nerves.

Here at The Student Lounge, we’ve come up with a list of seven steps for you to conquer what sometimes seems impossible:

  1. Pinup Correctly
    • Be sure to bring extra tacks (try to have all white, black, or clear to look uniform and professional).
    • Pin up everything level and take time to space everything out equally. Remember, you’re a design student, so you should be conscious of keeping everything tidy!
  2. Have Cohesive Presentation Boards
    • Boards are made to carry an audience through a project. The various boards focus on different aspects of the project in depth, with swatches and blown up images. The first and final boards are to give a summary of the project and to wrap up ideas.
    • Use however many boards you need to communicate your ideas well, but generally stay between 5 and 12.
    • Be conscious of the material and color of the board. Be sure the information and materials on the board are cohesive, and follow a form or method.
  3. Bring a Clean Model
    • Keep your model protected – no one wants to see a soiled or crinkled model that should be stark white!
    • Use bags, boxes, or plastic containers to keep them from getting damaged.
    • We encourage final touch-ups before class, to have the most pristine project.
  4. Protect Your Paper: Drawings, renderings, printed drafts & photos
    • Keep your flat, paper materials protected. If you don’t already have a document tube, find one! You can pick them up almost anywhere you get your supplies, but here are a few:
  1. Have a Verbal Presentation
    • Have a personal introduction including your name, inspiration for the project, and ideas you drew from. Walk your audience through your work and thank the people!
    • Don’t speak negatively about your own work and never apologize while presenting: only explain.
    • Practicing your presentation with a classmate, friend, or even in an empty classroom, alone, can ease your nerves. Drill down what points you want to touch on, and plan how you’ll talk about them.
  2. Just In Case
    • Have extra copies of renderings, printouts, or drawings, in case you forget.
    • Bring extra swatches of fabric.
    • Bring tacky glue, rubber cement (dries fast and is perfect for paper), and Velcro. You don’t want anything to fall off or apart! Even if your materials are ready, you may be a classmate’s saving grace.
  3. Breathe.

If allowed, consider recording audio of the critique. This way, you can go back and listen to what was said for better understanding. Utilize crit sheets, if you can, for others to take notes on specific things that you can later ask about. Even listening to the file months later can be constructive! Furthermore, consider revisiting and revising your projects with the critiques you received. Even if your grade doesn’t have a chance of changing, you can better your portfolio.

Critiques can be harsh, but keep in mind it is all for your benefit. Everything should be objective during a crit – that is, work should be analyzed without personal opinions coming into the conversation. There is no sense fretting about what has been said that you didn’t like hearing. Instead, take the critique and learn from it, even if you disagree. Remember, if someone gave you their opinion, you don’t have to take it 100 percent, but do consider it.

You’re one step closer to being a designer in the real world after you have your first critique under your belt. And if critiques aren’t new to you, be sure to know what to do differently the next time around. Good luck!

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