How to give feedback (for self-publishers)

So last month, we talked about how to filter feedback that we’re given. This month, I’m going to give some tips on how to give feedback to the artist that you’re working with!

Be nice

You’d think that this is a given, but unfortunately clients that critique rudely are still abundant. The artist is a person with a life, other obligations, and is probably juggling multiple clients at a time while needing to pay bills and trying to maintain enjoyable relationships with their clients. Treat them as such.

Highlight what you love

Compliments motivate just as much as criticism. If you like the piece overall, tell your artist! If you like a particular piece of the illustration, feel free to point it out! One, it will make the artist happy, and two, you might give them a better idea of what you’re looking for in the things you do want changed in the process.

Highlight what could be better (and why!)

“Can we give this person yellow clothes instead of black? Oh, and the dragon needs to be blue instead of red.” What could be wrong with this feedback? It’s clear and concise, right?

When an artist creates an image for you, they need to fill in the blanks you left. If there is no “why” associated with you wanting the color yellow, the artist is left to interpret if you want it to be bright or melancholy. Knowing the “why” behind feedback provides a bigger context that helps in making a lot of the more subtle choices right.

Be open for suggestions

“Can we add a crowd here? The face needs to be way lighter. By the way, the tower needs to be way more detailed.” Feedback like this might set the artist up for trouble and might make you like the image less in the long run.  Why?

When an artist makes a sketch of an image for you to give feedback on, they not only take your descriptions into account, but also make sure that every element contributes to the marketability and clarity of your image. They do this through composition, use of color, and use of detail, among other things. If you mess with that, you’re messing with the readability of your image. That isn’t to say that an image can’t be changed at all, but make sure to keep this in mind while you work with the artist – you’re the expert on your IP, but they’re the expert on how to visually market that. Seek out an artist whose expertise you trust (because you like their previous work) and rely on their competence to convey your story.

These few things should go a long way in ensuring a happy collaboration between you and your artist! What problems have you run into when working with others on your project?