Animation studios have “dailies” where they review each other’s scenes and provide feedback and constructive criticism. Also known as the “sweat box” in the animation industry (dating back to the days of Walt Disney when he would review completed scenes in a small review room where animators would nervously await his response) it’s a term that can strike fear in the heart of the artist.

One of my college drawing professors shared a story about his professor who wouldn’t give much useful input on drawings, but would literally come to a a students easel and put a large “X” on drawings that weren’t what he was looking for. Our professor didn’t do that but he did have us do something similar to the “sweat box” that made us all better artists.

We would end each 6 hour drawing day with a critique. Every student would put their day’s work up on the wall for all eyes to see. Every student was required to give feedback on each piece of art. Talk about transparency.

The critiques did 2 things. It made you strive to do your best work, and it forced you to articulate your thoughts about art in a formalized way that made sense and was constructive. It wasn’t a time for bashing someone’s art, but for giving honest feedback about what worked and what didn’t.

Here are 7 tips to setting up your own artists critique.

1. Find 2-8 other artists in the same creative field you are in.

2. Select a time and place to review your art. (Consider doing this via Skype if you are in different locations.)

3. Establish simple ground rules for the critique with the goal of making each other better.

4. Set a time limit on each piece based on the number of works and time allotted for the critique.

5. Foster an environment of safety and trust. Respect others opinions and don’t take it personal.

6. Use Evernote or some other easy to use long term tool to list attendance and notes about the critique.

7. Schedule the next critique before anyone leaves.

One last thing. If you can’t find other artists in your area, consider touching base with a faculty member from a college or university art program in your area to see if you can use their facilities, join one of their class critiques, or start one of your own.

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