It’s extremely important to be self-aware as an artist or designer. We should always be thinking about our processes, our decisions, our strengths and weaknesses, and our prejudices. Knowing these things will help you learn from your mistakes and use your strengths to their fullest advantage. When you become aware of the things you’re doing intuitively, you will be able to create strategies for yourself to overcome challenges in the future. You will also be able to overcome the things you do that might be holding you back artistically.

One great way to become more self-aware is by writing a reflective statement. A reflective statement is a written record of your artistic or learning process. A good reflective statement describes step-by-step what you did or learned, and more importantly, why. It can touch on some of the challenges you face and how you can or have overcome them. It can even mention ideas you have for future work.

Writing down your thoughts about working or learning forces you to be aware of your decision making process while you are creating. This includes the conscious decisions you make, as well as the things you do intuitively. It can become a record of your thoughts while you’re working and is something to refer to later; reminding yourself about issues you want to explore further. A reflective statement is also a good conclusion to an artwork, project, or assignment. Rather than setting it aside as done, you get the chance to reflect on what you have learned.

Reflective statements help artists & designers pay attention to their particular process as well as the process of those they read about or watch in films. These are used most often to focus on the process, focus, concept, ideation, composition, or other specific visual components. Reflective statements assist in helping artists and designers pay attention to specific ideas, problem solving, and choices they use. Metacognition, or thinking about thinking, is essential to visual communication in order to help the decision-making process and overall awareness.

Most reflective pieces are short. Often they are kept to a single page; it is recommended that a reflective response be at least 3 to 4 paragraphs but you are welcome to write more. Over time reflective responses trace your developing philosophy and can become a useful bibliographic record. Think of your reflective statement as a journaling exercise. You’ll find yourself becoming more aware of your decision-making process and you’ll have a written record of your thoughts to look back on and use in the future.

Below are two different approaches you can draw from, depending on the type of reflection: information, ideas, and the creative process obtained from the work of others (readings/films), or from your own personal work.

Write a personal response that shows you have spent time reading, watching, exploring, and reflecting.

Reading, Films, &
the work of others:
  • Summarize the main ideas in a single short paragraph. Ask yourself ‘What is the meaning for me?’
  • Identify aspects you agree and disagree with. Explain why.
  • Find literature that critiques the text. Explain how.
  • Reflect on how others’ ideas helps clarify your thoughts.
  • What did you learn in this assignment that you can apply in the next?
Statements about
your personal work:

If you’re not sure where to start, here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • What did you start with? What did you do next?
  • Why did you choose specific elements/concepts/processes/compositions, etc., and not others?
  • What problems did you encounter? How did you solve them? Were their issues you couldn’t solve?
  • What is working well (or not) and why?
  • What did you learn in this project that you can apply in the future?