When you ask for a critique be brave and listen carefully, you might learn something.


I am a new member of SCBWI. I recently asked to have a Virtual Illustration Critique by  Paul O. Zelinsky  of my newest children’s book illustration for “Madeline Delilah, Extraordinarily, Ordinary” written by Mariah Richardson. I think I’m pretty tough, and criticism doesn’t bother me. I’m a professional after all.

The critique I received from Mr. Zelinsky was very well written and very detailed. I could tell there was a lot of thought put into it.  There was a lot of encouragement and positive feed back, which made me happy of course, but there was also some very well placed criticism and strong suggestions.

I think the reason I felt sensitive about the criticism is because some of the specific areas of criticism were about the very areas that I was a little uncomfortable with all along. In other words I knew in my mind there were problems that I hadn’t quite worked out,  but I went ahead anyway.  He felt some of my images were static, that I should push the images, perspectives and emotions further to make everything more exciting, dramatic and interesting. Yes, I agree, now I see it all, can I start all over, can I have a redo?

I have learned something very important. Always go that extra mile (heck, that extra ten miles) to make your illustrations perfect in all ways. You will hopefully have a very big audience someday and you will want to be proud.

See my brand new wordpress blog: www.daynesislendesign.wordpress.com

Also see my Web site Portfolio: www.daynesislendesign.com


About Dayne Sislen, Children's Book Illustrator

I am a children's book illustrator and graphic designer. I love working with self-publishing children's book authors to help them bring their characters and scenes to life on the printed page. I have spent over 30 years in the design graphics, advertising and marketing business, working with some of the most creative people in the industry. I can take your story idea from character development to finished illustrations and printer ready files. I run on coffee, chocolate and colorful Post-it notes.

6 responses »

  1. Thanks for sharing, Dayne. I also want to re-do my illustrations following my critique and try to make the improvements Mr. Zelinsky recommended. It’s definitely a process–there’s always more learning and growing we can do:)

  2. Thank you for sharing your feedback and response. Great advice, Dayne.

    I had to chuckle when I read your line about “Yes, I agree, now I see it all, can I start all over, can I have a redo?” I felt the same way after reading Mr. Zelinsky’s notes. He truly is a marvelous critiquer.

    The illustration I submitted is currently on submission, so I probably won’t share the piece itself on the blog. But I’ll post some excerpts from his feedback today or tomorrow.

  3. Dayne, Great comments there. I got my critique back last week, and I agree with all you say. Mr. Zelinsky has a remarkable eye! I’ll write about my critique as soon as I wrap up a project I’m working on. Thanks for sharing this!

  4. Dayne thanks so much for your post…. I am in the middle of a loooOOooong project and after many revisions and frustrations, it’s getting hard to keep working… but your advice to go the extra mile has really helped me revive the energy to do what I KNOW I need to do. So thank you for your insights and willingness to share your experience!

  5. Criticism, even constructive criticism, tends to sting a bit. Even if you know it’s coming and that it’s good for you, it still hurts at first. I know I always have the initial reaction to defend my work. To argue why the critiquer is wrong. I have to take a couple of deep breaths and calm myself before I can read it again objectively.

    Once my emotions are reigned in, I almost always find that there is at least some value in every criticism. It’s like I always say, if no one ever tells you about it, you may not know there’s a problem.

    I’m still waiting to get my critique. Hopefully it’ll be as helpful as yours was for you. 🙂

    • Thanks for the encouragement.

      I am used to comments and rejections of my graphic design work, that’s business. But I find the criticism of my illustrations more personal. It’s good to know other artists feel that sting also. I guess as I do more children’s illustration it will come easier and I do hope I learn and improve my skills. I will always step back and take a deep breath and LISTEN.

      Thanks again, Dayne


Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s