Judging creative work is a huge responsibility and is extraordinarily difficult to get right. Everyone underestimates how difficult this is because:
a) Everyone believes they have good taste.
b) They believe that because they look at quality work all the time, they can instinctively distinguish good from bad.
c) Deep down everyone is a frustrated designer.
If you become aware of these points, you could graduate to making sound creative judgments and even find a way to learn from them. Ask yourself the following five questions when judging any original work.
1. What is the idea?
Don’t get distracted by colors, fonts, pictures, or form. Step away from what is visible and ask if there is a powerful, creative idea in what you are seeing. If it’s not there, it is not exceptional work.
2. Is it unexpected?
Did it surprise you? Did you expect to see it in some other way? Perhaps you should take a closer look. There is something more to it than you see.
3. Does it make you emotional?
Do you have any human response to it? Does it evoke any emotions? Do you feel happy, sad, excited… anything at all? Or do you feel indifference?
4. Is it right for the purpose?
Does it do what it is supposed to do and how well does it do that? Does it feel right, and meet the purpose?
5. Does it cut through the clutter?
There is bound to be similar stuff around, if not in looks, in function. See how it is different from the competition. Is what you are looking at in any way different from what you have already seen?
Above all, don’t be in a hurry to judge. Take your time and observe your reactions to each of the questions. Try this out and let me know if you were in any way surprised!
Sudhir Sharma, Editor-in-Chief