Friday, May 31, 2019

The Art Of Giving Critiques

My last how to post was all about how to receive critiques.
The next half is all about giving critiques. 
But what does that mean? How do you give a good critique? Well let's critique an old piece of tack I made.
It is a customized Breyer saddle and one of my first saddles.
Years ago this was my peak. This was the ultimate thing I'd made. The knee rolls were perfect. The tree? No one could touch that! And the genius in reusing the girth from Breyer? Spot on. 
So how does one critique this--when there's a lot to fix? 
Well let me show you the way you don't do it. If you're scrolling online and see a saddle like the one above, don't post these sort of comments:
Everything is wrong. First off, rude. There's at least one thing going on correct here. Secondly, how does that comment help the maker get better? 
This is terrible, why do you even bother?  Don't be this person. You never know who you are warding off with such a comment. Everyone develops at a different pace. At the bare minimum, remember that just because you may have gained all of the knowledge of what does and doesn't work,  doesn't mean that everyone is in that same place. Also, spoiler alert, there's always more to learn. It's low hanging fruit to be decent.   
So how do you offer a critique? When giving advice always balance the positive and negatives. 
don't care if what you're shown is the worst thing you've ever seen, because you can always find a way to critique a piece in at least a neutral manner. Someone is putting themselves out on display to get better. This doesn't mean lie to the person, but one can offer a critique that is helpful but doesn't drive away a person from trying ever again. Be blunt. Be precise. Don't be a jerk.
Being open to critiques does mean developing the ability to distance oneself from a personal piece and building a thick skin.
Anyways, the saddle above has a ton to be fixed. 
Here are some basic examples of critiques that could be given:
It's nice that you're starting out with tack making! Here are a few improvements.  Be aware of scale. D-rings are smaller. Also, look at pictures of real saddles. The tree should be more symmetrical.

What materials are you using? Reusing pieces of the original tack is a good idea, but you may find that different materials could help.

What are your references? A good reference can help with creating a saddle. While you are mimicking the usage of difference leather material for the knee roll and flaps, the transition and shape could be a bit more clean. 

You should be mindful of the shape of the saddle. It isn't symmetrical. There shouldn't be a piece of leather wrapped around the back like that. Be aware of tidiness. The knee rolls could be a bit cleaner and the d rings should be in scale. 

What if you give a well meaning critique and the maker doesn't respond well? Well there's a few things to do. Before deciding on your course of action, remember their name. If a person doesn't respond well, remember their name for future reference.
First option is to not respond again. Make the decision if you're going to spend your time helping them. If a person asks for help, and then snubs it, there's no point in wasting your time.

Second option, Call them out. This is awkward and messy. Especially if a person is already acting immature. But if you believe there's a chance that they could learn from their immaturity, try explaining the consequences to acting out.

Hopefully that helped some. Critiques are a staple in this hobby, and there are good and bad ways to do it.
Does anyone have tips or suggestions they'd like to add?

1 comment:

  1. Great article! As for me, I try to insert any suggestions for change between positive comments.