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Writing for the Arts


thumbs up and thumbs downYou may often be required to write about your work and your working process or practice self-critically, especially if there is practice-based experimentation and prototyping embedded in your course’s philosophy. Often you may end up with a product or finished piece, especially if you are a maker or someone mastering a skill set.

Writing can take the form of a commentary telling the story of your practice, of how the ideas emerged and how you developed ideas and progressed them. This story is told through a critical lens. It is useful if you can explain to the reader the key decision points along the way, referring to any theory that informed those choices.


You could also mention your influences.

Thoughtshower showing different inflluences. Download document for accessible version

​​​​​​​ Explain if you adapted the approach because of how materials behaved or based on design decisions. It’s possible you had to adapt the design based on principles of utility, useability, inclusion or sustainability. Incorporate design decision based on relevant principles and theory explaining the process and critical points within it.

Voice of authority

A megaphone speakerIt is important to have a voice of authority and to argue the rationale for your work, the meaning behind what you are trying to express, articulate what you were trying to achieve and reflect on how successful it was.

  • What interpretations you bring to the piece or your practice-what does this mean to you?
  • Explain what you are trying to express and communicate.
  • What do you expect others might read into your work?
  • What sort of reactions do you hope for?
  • What responses would you welcome from your audience?

Deep reflectionWoman happy saying "yes"

In a deep reflection you are engaging with self-critique. The writing is not just a re-telling of the story or making, design or production. You need to be critical of your working process and technical execution. Consider all sub-processes and stages. Notice what worked well, and what you could do differently.

What were crucial decision points, opportunities, difficulties, emerging self-understanding, insights? It may be appropriate to think broadly about the social and political context, locating your work in a wider context such as considering history, theory, and philosophy. You may need to consider the production process or manufacturing process if you will move a design beyond craft making into scaled up production using industrial processes.

Reflect on any feedback you have had from tutors, course peers, critical feedback sessions and explain your views on the feedback. Try to engage with it in the spirit of it being a challenge to your thinking and decision-making and try to learn from it. If you take feedback forward and apply it in your work, explain why it resonated with you. Likewise, if you reject feedback, explain why, and give an argument for why you wish to reject it, located within your design practice. Person looking at their laptopYour reasoning must be stronger than ‘I didn’t like the feedback and I didn’t agree with it!

To understand  critical reflection in your subject area or field of study, consider what other work has been undertaken before. You can search for dissertations,  projects and theses/ PhDs using the library’s search function. Reading other work can enhance your  understanding of what it means to be critical;  for example, consider how arguments are structured and  how paragraphs are used to develop ideas. Please respect the work of others and reference anything read or used.