Giving and Receiving Feedback

The next step…Getting Feedback

You have read the arts and sciences handbook, and you have learned a few things about your art or science.  Now you want to know if you are headed down the right path.  You have talked to people interested in your topic, but no one has seen your work.  There are a couple of ways to go about getting some feedback.


You should know who the SCA journeymen and experts are in your field by now.  See if they are willing to meet with you at an event to look over your work.   Also keep in mind, it can be really hard to receive criticism on something you have worked really hard on.  It can also be really hard to give good criticism on something if they do not know what you are looking to know.  Be specific in what you want to hear back.  Ask for one thing you can do to take your art to the next level.  That way you can work on one thing at a time and not get overwhelmed with all that you need to learn.  It is a process; love the process.

Though most are really good at giving you good advice, not everyone is.  Even members of the Order of the Laurel, have bad days, get tired and aren’t able to focus on what you are asking.  Don’t take it personally, if you don’t like what you hear.  If someone seems, tired, distracted or unable to collect their thoughts, remember they are human.  Ask if you can contact them later once they have thought about it.  You are learning and nothing is ever perfect, especially when you start.  Also, if you do not feel the ideas are valid, still respect the person’s time.  See if your sources back up what they said.  Regardless if they do or do not, find a second opinion.

Most artists in the SCA will never go beyond this level.  They love what they do and continue because they love what they do.   Crown’s and Nobles love small art objects as largess.  Consider making some of your items to give as encouragement to others. There is nothing more rewarding to an artist to see someone wear or use an item that is now prized because it was a gift from the crown.  It represents their journey in the SCA.


Competitions can be a good form of feedback but not all competitions are equal in the SCA.  If you are looking for affirmation that you are doing work that is interesting and attractive, you can start with populace vote competitions.  These will not get you more than a thumbs up or down feedback in most cases.  However, many artisans will leave largess and contact cards for you on your display.  This is often an invitation to contact them further about your work.  Take them up on the offer.  Ask the same questions and take the same considerations away as you would in just asking.

The next level of competition is the body of work competition.  For these, you will sit at a table with your work and talk to the various artists that come by to see it.  Don’t be concerned if your body of work is one item.  At the Kingdom level we have Laurel’s Prize Tournament that is in this format.  This is an excellent place to start showing your work.  Let them know how long you have been doing this kind of work and they will give you feedback on where to go next.

The final level of competition is the form judged competition.  The forms can be found under Judging Forms on the Forms page.  Many people have a misconception that these are only for the most advanced artists.  You have the ability to tell your judge that you are a beginner and ask for feedback accordingly.  If you are highly competitive, then take a deep breath and approach this format with some guidance from all those wonderful artists you have met while you are learning.

Giving Feedback

Most people dread this, and find this very difficult to do.  We can have a lot of emotion wrapped up in our art, but giving feedback is a skill.  You have to balance what a person needs to do next without overwhelming them with information.  Like all skills, it takes practice to get it right.  Here are some articles that discuss the topic of giving feedback to artists and reflect wide views on the subject.  Keep in mind it can often be best to ask what kind of feedback an artist is looking for before you begin.

The information above is the thoughts on the topic from Biatrichi Canzionari, OL.  Your mileage may vary and she is always open to additional information on this topic.  Email her at

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