Constructive criticism doesn’t always flatter

I put forward the view that unless graphic design is willing to submit itself to informed criticism, it will remain a marginalised activity within modern communications (Private View, DW 3 February).

I put forward the view that unless graphic design is willing to submit itself to informed criticism, it will remain a marginalised activity within modern communications (Private View, DW 3 February).

I also said I doubted designers are ready to have their work criticised in the way that practitioners in other creative activities are. Dave Brown’s response to what he sees as unfair criticism of the new Mr Kipling packaging is a case in point.

Brown states that a piece of graphic design can’t be criticised ‘without recourse to understanding the client’s brief’. But why? When movie critics review films they are not prevented from having a view by the fact that producers sometimes subject directors to commercial pressures. If a film is bad, they say so.

Nor does the fact that a piece of design has resulted in a ’57 per cent’ increase in sales exempt it from criticism. It can still be poor design. He says he’d welcome reviewing new design if done in a ‘constructive and engaging way’.

But he has to accept that if there is to be effective design criticism we are all going to hear things said about our work we’d rather not.

Adrian Shaughnessy

Writer/ independent consultant

Middlesex TW12

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