As a graphic designer and writer (and sometime contributor to Core77), San Francisco-based Christina Beard is in a unique position to investigate the conventions and tropes of design practice and discourse. For her first book, Critiqued: Inside the Minds of 23 Leaders in Design, she subjected her work—a poster advocating hygiene—to the discerning eye of nearly two dozen leaders in the field.
Every designer at some point faces positive and negative criticism.
Most designers have experienced a crushing critique that makes you question your choice to even be a designer. Conversely, many have had a positive critique that left them feeling elated and excited to keep going!
Design is subjective.
I set out to investigate this further, and designed an experiment that took me all over the world to meet with leaders in design. I designed a poster, took it to a designer for a critique and based on that feedback I redesigned the poster, and took the new poster to the next designer—a process similar to the children's game Telephone.
Each designer shared with me what was working, what wasn't working and how they would approach their own redesign. The feedback ranged from "you should just start over" to "this is great, I think you're done!"
L: The poster with Alice Twemlow's feedback; R: The following iteration, which incorporated those comments
I made sure to try all of their feedback, even if I didn't end up using it and to inhabit their mindset as much as possible. Some redesigns felt spontaneous and fun while others felt forced and uncomfortable. After meeting with 23 leaders in design and creating 25 poster iterations, I created a final poster as a culmination of my journey.
Each conversation and iteration left me with a new way of thinking, and I would never have reached the final redesign without having those 24 critical conversations about design with people who really changed the way I think and continue to shape the way I work.
You can read more about this project in Critiqued: Inside the Minds of 23 Leaders in Design. This book chronicles my journey and shares all of the process and posters created.