Research Behind Why Creatives Should Collaborate

Not all feedback is created equal. Your mom means well when she tells you your third grade art class abstract work is flawless, and your roommate may really think your work is rockstar status. However, research shows that as a creative you get the most accurate and helpful feedback on your work from fellow creatives, and that you make better creative work when you give your peers feedback on their work. This give and get dynamic is exactly what we focus on here at Creative Critique.

Why We Should GET Feedback from Fellow Creatives

Why not just self-evaluate?

We are all plagued by false positives in our own work, or the belief that it is as good as it can be. If it could be better, we would simply make it so. While we may be able to perfect our work based on our experiences and perspective, our approach and interpretation of the work is limited to us. The more you work on a project, the greater your curse of knowledge; you lose the ability to have a first impression of your work.

Why not friends and family?

A plethora of research presented in “The Mom Test”, which is used as Harvard curriculum, demonstrates that friends and family are more likely to lie to your face than provide actionable feedback. Friends and family have the best of intentions; they believe in you and want to build you up, but just because you’re great doesn’t mean the first draft of your work is. Plus, no one wants to be the bearer of bad news (we believe feedback is good news, which we discuss here, but critique has a stigma of reflecting poorly on the creator).

Telling someone their work is flawless preserves the personal relationship, and is an easier response than carefully analyzing work to recommend improvements. Plus, unless your friends and family are fellow creatives in your field, how actionable can their advice be beyond an initial visceral reaction to what you have created?

Why not bosses?

Managers of creatives have a difficult role; they are responsible for hitting deadlines and making margins, while also allowing creative freedom and facilitating innovation. Often, their managerial role influences them to think in terms of false negatives - or what could go wrong - as opposed to the opportunity of what could go right. In the words of Stanford Professor Justin M. Berg who studied the ability of creatives and creative managers to predict creative innovation success:

Results from the lab experiment show that creators’ advantage over managers in predicting success may be tied to the emphasis on both divergent thinking (idea generation) and convergent thinking (idea evaluation) in the creator role, while the manager role emphasizes only convergent thinking.

You and your boss have ‘skin in the game’ when it comes to your creative work. You both have ego, credibility, and job security on the line, all of which can influence your creative decisions beyond the validity of your creative work itself.

Why Creatives:

Back to that Stanford study by Professor Berg. He studied 339 creatives and their bosses in the circus industry and, based on audience acceptance of new ideas, found that fellow creatives have a 55% greater chance of effectively predicting new creative ideas than managers.

Fellow creatives are less likely to be influenced by your false positives or your manager’s false negatives, and they have the technical literacy to provide you with actionable feedback, not just the gut reaction your friends and family can offer. Fellow creatives understand the importance of quality feedback, as they desire it as well, and are able to expand your perspective and create better work, faster.

Why We Should GIVE Feedback to Fellow Creatives

Remember in elementary school when you had to give a book report to the class? The prospect of presenting the content to your peers brought on a whole new level of pressure different from simply memorizing information to regurgitate on a test. This is known as the Protége Effect, which tells us that we retain information best when we teach it.

The same is true for giving feedback. When you are focused on analyzing your own creative work, it is easy to get stuck in one viewpoint and perspective on how the creative work should be approached. Stepping away to analyze another creative’s work allows your brain to reset and reflect on the information you know in a new context of someone else’s work. Teaching them what you know as it relates to their work can remind you of what you know as it relates to yours.

Plus, in the Creative Critique community, you have to pick out one thing you like about someone’s work when giving them creative feedback, and what you like you may be able to apply to your work.


Both giving and getting feedback helps you create better and iterate faster. Friends, family, clients, and bosses all mean well when trying to provide you with a creative critique - but third party creatives are the best source to gain creative feedback from.

We happen to host that community for creatives to critique each other’s work, and we hope you’ll join us.