How to objectively look at a work of art or design. What are the criteria?

Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and taste, and with the creation and appreciation of beauty. It is more scientifically defined as the study of sensory or sensori-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste. Aesthetics as “critical reflection on art, culture and nature.” aesthetically appealing objects are beautiful in and of themselves—without other purpose.


What was the intent of the work?

  • How clear is it?
  • How has it been achieved/not achieved?
  • What choices has the artist/designer made?
  • What meaning have those choices created?
  • What is the overall impact of the work—your immediate, gut-level reaction, both emotional and intellectual?
  • What is the overall form/structure of the work?
  • What kind/type of balance is created resulting from visual hierarchy, point/counter-point, rhythm, focal point, contrast, repetition and variation?
  • What is the overall character of the shapes used? (Regular, irregular, organic, geometric, etc.)
  • How is color used? (Subjectively/objectively, psychologically, symbolically, metaphorically etc.)
  • How is composition determined? (Golden section, rule of thirds, lines of continuity, random, etc.)
  • How does the work relate to the larger context of the world of art?
  • Describe What You See.
  • List how or what makes up the art/design object.

Analyze What You See.

  • How are the elements of the piece being used? (Kind, arrangement, location, groupings)

Interpret What You See.

  • What is the objective, intent, or goal and its result.

Judge What You See. 

  • What is the relative quality or success of the work meeting the artist/designer’s intent?

Critique Checklist


1. Type sizes follow a good hierarchy. For example, 36, 24, 8 and 6, or 144, 72, 18, 14, and so on.

2. Type cases blend. For example, all caps, upper and lower, lower case, and so on.

3. Type styles and weights blend. For example, bold, medium, italics, and so on.


1. Eye patterns are easy or difficult to follow.

2. Follow a grid, grouping the positioning of copy.

3. Has a focus point. Images or headlines relate to subject matter, creating scale, pattern, or interest.

4. Blank space helps present the copy.

5. Are grouped, tightening copy toward the center of the page and keeping alignments similar.

6. Are formal or informal. What is the purpose?

7. Follow a specific new design trend, using new techniques for elements or design.

8. Format and logo distinguish this company from others.


1. Borders: What did they accomplish? Do they harmonize with type?

2. Reverse: Use no more than two unrelated shapes; add contrast; help eye patterns; use legible type.

3. Shades of gray: Type and other page techniques give the page an overall look of different density; contrast level.


1. Quality of publication: Type, tints, and photos are not broken and do not show visible dots.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your 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