3 Methods to Develop A Critical Creative Eye

As you get started in your creative artistic journey, you will over-time develop your taste, your standards, your goals, your style, etc.

The artist you liked at the beginning of your art journey, you may end up not liking/moving after you get more experience/seen other artists.

Stuff like that, you evolve as you grow as a person.

You should also have, over the course of your journey, developed and honed a critical creative eye when it comes to looking at not just art but everything around you.

The design choices of traffic road sings, the word/ad-copy choices of advertising campaigns, the way products are designed, the reasons why mid-range to expensive products are placed at eye-level and why cheaper ones are placed below/at the bottom, etc.

All these things are part of the first method:

#1: Be Observant And Curious, Don’t Just See, Observe And Be Critical of Design Choices Around You Daily

Photo by Paweu0142 L. on Pexels.com

Be observant of all those things mentioned above. As you go about your day, ask yourself the 5Ws and 1H: Who, What, Why, When, Where and How.

For example:

Who is this billboard designed for? Is it targeted at a certain audience?

What is the billboard about? What is the intended message and outcome?

Where is the billboard?

Why is this billboard there, at this specific location? Why is it designed in such way?

When is this billboard relevant, is it time-sensitive for a reason? Is it to address a current situation?

Some of the answers to these questions may be very obvious and you don’t think twice about them, think twice about them anyway.

Think about why would a certain advertisement or product or sign or anything be designed and placed the way it is. Not just those as well but locations, places, etc.

Think about whether or not the design solutions/choices made are valid and solve a problem, whether they are good designs or bad designs. Do they accomplish the goal they set out to do.

The reasons why you ask questions like these is to frame things within a context you can understand and add to your knowledge.

#2: Apply Method #1 To Art/Design You That You Like And Consume

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

As you consume more art and see more design from your daily life or your own research/consumption of media that you really like. Maybe its a comic, maybe it was a movie, maybe it was a piece of art.

Think about applying method #1 to it.

Who drew this?

When was this made?

What was the inspiration for it? What was the history behind it? What do I think makes it good art/design? What was the reason behind this piece being made? What is the message?

Where did it originate from? Where did I find this?

Why do I like it? Why was this font used? Why was this drawn that way?

How do I achieve the same level of quality/feel/reaction from my art/design? How was this piece made?

etc. etc.

If you find that further on you fell out of love with a certain art style or artist, you don’t idolize them as much anymore think about why that is so as well, analyze why that happened.

#3: Keep A Log And Research Further

Photo by Vlad Cheu021ban on Pexels.com

It’s ok not to know all the answers to all the questions at one look, you need time to look at it, perhaps take a picture for later to analyze it, and even maybe research further about it to know more about the thing you are looking at.

Keep a log/folder of things you found good design/good art/good problem solving and reference it and look into it more.

Keep a log of things that you find intriguing but haven’t quite figured out what is going on with it yet, you don’t how it was made, you don’t know a lot of things about it.

Research with the second log with the internet at your disposal to know more about the design choices you are not sure about.

To be critical doesn’t mean putting yourself down if you don’t know all the answers, practice mindfulness and proceed to learn from your development process.

Remember that observation is active analysis while seeing is passive. There is a difference between both of these.

Conclusion

Being critical about something in a learning context means ensuring you analyze and know as much about it as possible so as to be able to learn something from it.

Being creative means being able to be flexible enough to solve problems, creativity is not about being able to draw or write, its about being able to to solve problems.

If you have a eye for critical analysis and creative problem solving, your own art and craft will rise to a higher level.

Cultivating a critical creative eye will take time, do not rush through the process. Eventually you will reach a level where you will be able to pick and choose whether you want to know everything about a design, who the designer is, etc. or just appreciate it at face-value and take note of it for future reference.

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Stay safe~!
JR

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