criticism sandwich


I always struggle with giving creative feedback.  I can only imagine what’s it’s like to be a creative director and have your work (which is inherently personal) continually critiqued in front of you.  I guess you learn to grow really thick skin (or plug your ears discretely).

This last week, I gave a cartoon talk to 200 people at Unilever, and it was surreal to flip through my cartoons on a jumbo screen waiting for the audience to get the joke and start laughing.  Usually, I send out my cartoons alone and I’m not there when people get them.  So, it was a little nerve-wracking to be on a stage hoping (and praying) that people would start laughing (anyone, anyone, Bueller, Bueller).  A bit like that old dream of showing up to school without your clothes.  Anyway, that’s what I imagine it’s like to be a creative director in a client meeting.

So, I always try to dose my creative feedback to others with plenty of ego stroking.  An early manager of mine described it as a "criticism sandwich", which led to this cartoon. 

  1. says

    Here’s the best way to give feedback – skip the layers of praise. Any decent creative who has been around a while can separate themselves from their work.

    The only thing that really ticks me off is when a client starts tell me that they don’t like it. I don’t necessarily design to sell a product to the client. When they start telling me that, I challenge them to tell me how it doesn’t meet the business objective.

    I once had a marketing manager reviewing an ad target at teen girls tell me that he “didn’t get it.” I told him that was probably a good thing!

  2. US fan says

    Tom, I’m guessing that talk was at Unilever UK… many of us in our US offices have your cartoons posted in our cubes- keep them coming!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *