Ah, the professional creative. Is there any other profession that’s as romanticized, misunderstood and yet, pursued and desired? The deadlines are short, the hours are long and the competition is fierce. But most of us wouldn’t change it for the world. There is, after all, a reason we’re so fascinated with creatives. We assume their minds are somehow quicker, more thoughtful and talented than most. But the truth is, it’s a job like any other.
And once you monetize creativity, the demand and expectation becomes higher. Something that once was done for the sake of job and artistic validation and reward now comes with a price tag and a set of deliverables. Instead of treating creativity as an art form, we begin treating it like a machine, expecting a certain and consistent output. But you can’t have a computer analyze your new logo and tell you it’s got to be 14% bigger and just a tad more cyan, and you can’t use an algorithm to build a new visual strategy. When that happens, it’s easy to lose sight of why you first got into this industry, whether you’re an individual, overseeing a team or running a company. Here are four tips to help you keep sight of why we love what we do.
Savor the Victories…But Grow Too
We’re incredibly proud of our creative work for clients such as NBCU, E! Sprout, Nickelodeon, FOX or NFL Network among others. And while some of us collectively groan at self promotion, there’s value in solid reflection on successful projects, especially if the work stretched teams limitations. It’s often painful to grow into the next stage of creative evolution. And one big lesson has to do with creativity and ourselves, we humans require lots of time, space to reflect on projects, the work and review our limitations.
Remember, We’re Only Human
A machine can run on zero sleep, zero fuel and never needs to leave the office, but humans cannot. In order to stay creative, we need to step away. It may seem counterintuitive when you’re facing a big deadline, but if you need to spark an idea, stepping away might be the best solution.
Yes, you have THE idea, the award-winning, ground-breaking, studio-launching idea that will change everything… except it would require three times the budget, twice the staff and at least an extra six months, when you’re already down to one. Don’t be discouraged. You still have a great idea, it just might not be the right idea for this project. Or, maybe it needs to face a few challenges to work. Challenges can turn into solutions and make you a stronger creative.
Stop Fearing Failure
When it’s your job to come up with original ideas on a regular basis, it’s easy to fear failure. After all, if you’re being paid to do what you love, it’s easy to slip into the mindset that we’re always just one project away from ruining it. Or, as artist and author Christoph Niemann addresses in his truly inspiring 99u talk, what if “I’m not good enough?” “I’m out of ideas” or “My work is irrelevant and soon I’ll be broke.” Spending time dwelling on the possibilities of failure isn’t going to get you anywhere. Spending time investing in your own creative growth will.
It may not be the stuff of Mad Men, but we are still lucky to be in this industry and to be creating. Ultimately, our clients believe in us enough that they hire us for an idea…Can a computer do that? Not yet anyway.