My 12 Years In The Creative Industry: What I’ve Learned And How You Can Avoid My Mistakes
Hey there my EyeSavvy peeps!
I’m sure you’ve been in the same situation as I have multiple times. You've made a mistake, or said the wrong thing at the wrong time, not realizing until 20 eyeballs are looking in your direction with all sorts of thoughts floating through everyone's head.
It happens! We wouldn’t learn or grow unless we made mistakes along the way.
With me being the bullheaded Taurus that I am, it’s taken me a while to realize and admit when I’ve been wrong...in fact...I'm still working on it!
I think back to the day I graduated (worst ceremony ever… thanks, Cirque de Soleil for kicking us out of the Radio City Music Hall!!! Anyways…)
The years since I’ve graduated have given me many experiences in which I have grown as a graphic designer, as an industry professional, as a marketer and as an artist.
You may be reading this wanting to know more about the creative industry and how it works. Or maybe you've spent a good chunk of your life within this industry and you're interested in a different perspective.
Everyone’s experience within this industry is different from the next. I've been reflecting back, thinking of my naive little self, fresh out of college and what advice I would I tell myself if I could go back in time and do it all over again.
This is what I would say to naive little Kiki if I had my DeLorean…
1.) Stay Humble
Lots of artists and designers have talent. You don't need to constantly brag about all of your work and your accomplishments to prove yourself.
I've met many creatives that constantly talk about how great their work is and the awesome people they get to meet at their fancy parties. Bragging is over-rated and makes you look like a pompous-ass.
Stay humble and let your work speak for itself. In the great words of Kendrick Lamar… “Sit down, Be Humble”
MY MISTAKE: Thinking my work was better than others.
LESSON LEARNED: We are all creatives just wanting to create. Respect others work and stay humble.
2.) Don't Judge
There have been quite a few regretful moments in my life, where I've judged a design to be poor or not great. I didn't realize at the time that the person who created it was standing right behind me or had overheard what I had said.
I regret judging a design because maybe the person that created it loves it and they truly enjoyed making it.
Art and Design are very subjective. You might find a painting to be ugly, while others might be so delighted that they smile every time they see it. Your opinion is just one of many, don't judge other artist's and designer's work in a negative manner.
MY MISTAKE: Constantly judging other artist's work..
LESSON LEARNED: Would you want someone secretly thinking negative thoughts about your work?
3.) Make Connections
Many creatives are introverts, myself included. I can recall several occasions during my college years, where I had to force myself to carry conversations with random people. Most of the time, I was terrified that they would find me boring, or weird. My biggest fear, was rejection.
If you want to be in the creative industry, it is important to network and build relationships with others inside this industry. Don't be afraid to casually strike up a conversation with someone, they could potentially be a connection for your future career.
Even today, I recognize that making more time to network is something that I lack. Make your self stand out! Say something goofy, wear a stellar hat, hand out a kickass business card, rock leopard pants... whatever floats your boat or toots your horn.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO MAKE CONNECTIONS?
If you're a photographer, meeting a couple of graphic designers just might lead to a referral for potential clients. We're all here to help each other! Ditch the competitive nature and be yourself. When you're open to building relationships with others, good things are more likely to head your way.
MY MISTAKE: Not making more connections sooner in life.
LESSON LEARNED: Connections are important for building strong, trustworthy relationships in business.
4.) Be Generous
It took me a while to fully implement generosity into my business. Originally, I was so caught up in how much my time was worth that I didn't fully understand what would make my clients the happiest.
Under promise and over deliver. If you go over a couple of hours of the estimated time on a specific project, maybe give your first time client those hours for free.
Being generous to people will allow them to appreciate and respect you, AND they most-likely will want to be generous back.
MY MISTAKE: Failing to show my clients that their satisfaction was my main focus. Even though it totally was!
LESSON LEARNED: You need to give back to your clients so they not only appreciate you, but so they love working with you and will want to tell the world how great you are.
5.) Work Hard
Hustle, Hustle, Hustle. Working hard is something I’ve always been naturally trained to do, but I threw it in here to remind you of how important hard work is.
Work hard, and good things will come. I promise you.
MY MISTAKE: Waiting for opportunities to knock at my door.
LESSON LEARNED: Opportunities don't look for you, you need to go find them yourself.
6.) HAVE GRATITUDE
Sometimes it can be difficult to show gratitude, especially when you're having a rough day. You can’t get ahold of a client… your computer crashed… or you forgot to get more coffee when you were at the store and now your officially having the worst day ever...
*raises hand* BEEN THERE!
These small chains of events can get you down in the dumps and it’s hard to pull yourself out.
In these moments, (even though life can feel pretty shitty at the time), I remind myself of how grateful I am for everything in my life. Grateful for my job, my family, my dog, my friends… the list goes on.
Gratitude is a powerful thing.
Don't dwell on what you don't have or what went wrong, be grateful for what you DO have and what's right.
MY MISTAKE: Thinking that my life is harder than others
LESSON LEARNED: Life is full of ups and downs, focus on the ups.
7.) Be Open
Like I’ve mentioned before, as a Taurus, I’m very set in my ways. Not only is it hard to admit I’m wrong but sometimes it's also hard to be open to an outsider’s opinion.
Having critiques everyday in college has strengthened my ability to take constructive criticism and apply it to my work and everyday life.
If you're like me, remember that your opinion and/or perspective is not the only one that matters.
Have a friend or someone random critique your work. Ask them what they like and don't like about it. Be open to different thoughts and opinions. This will also help you grow.
MY MISTAKE: Staying closed minded in certain situations
LESSON LEARNED: Be open to what people have to say, even if what you think they are saying is a waste of time.
8.) Challenge Yourself
Challenging yourself is similar to working hard, but you can work hard every day doing something you already know how to do.
It's more important to challenge yourself so that you can continue to grow, not only as a creative but as a person.
If you want to learn more about photo retouching in Photoshop, or how to make a pattern using your own drawing or painting in Illustrator, challenge yourself to watch a video and try it.
Building your skill-set as a creative is a must.
MY MISTAKE: Thinking I'd be satisfied by always doing the same thing.
LESSON LEARNED: I feel better about myself when I am growing and learning.
9.) Be Fearless
Don’t. Have. Fear…
Paint that obscene idea you have for your next painting, ask your boss for more opportunities to be creative, call a potential lead for your next client project, record a video to promote your website…
You get the idea. Don’t hold back on certain opportunities because you're afraid.
If you're afraid to act on something, ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” Maybe you’ll look stupid for asking a question… Who cares!
This book has helped me to become a little more fearless:
MY MISTAKE: Not speaking up because I was afraid to ask for what I really wanted.
LESSON LEARNED: Don't be afraid to ask for anything if you truly believe you deserve it.
10.) Have Fun
I’ll never forget when Chris Sinclair (Executive Chairman of Mattel, Inc.,) gave a speech at Mattel following the resignation of our CEO at the time.
In his speech, he said, “Life is a rollercoaster, you can grasp the handlebars tightly and hold on for dear life, or, you can throw your hands up in the air and enjoy the ride”
I’ll never forget when he said that, it really resonated with me because it’s so true!
A lot of what happens in life is out of our control, and once we realize that, we can have fun and make the best out of every situation.
MY MISTAKE: Letting stress affect my everyday mood and the people around me.
LESSON LEARNED: Shit happens! Clean it up and move forward.
Have fun with your creative talent!
With all of that being said, I still struggle sometimes with everything I’ve written above. I’m human, which is why I typed them out and printed a little poster to place above my desk.