At the end of a day of running around and trying to meet deadlines, having meetings, strategising, analysis, emails, phone calls and so much more we often look back and think about how much of the day was actually creative? As a designer I always want to be as creative as possible throughout my workday because that’s who I am!
In the beginning there was design!
When I started my career in Design, I was sure I was going to create incredible works of art every day and that my head would explode with the amount of creativity flowing out. I was going to be the Leonardo da Vinci or Michelangelo of 21st Century design… or something along those lines.
At first it was very much like that… or so it seemed. But with constant deadlines, crazy hours and clients “destroying” our vision every day it wasn’t all as incredible as I had envisioned. As the years go by, one gains experience which means we can react or create incredible stuff with more ease, but it also means we start getting more responsibilities. For some its mentoring junior designers and helping them understand the creative vision, for others its climbing the creative ladder that might look something like senior designer – art director – creative director etc. or some other evolution depending on your area of expertise or career changes.
For me it was taking on the responsibilities of digital creativity for the company. At first there was very little to do, but things changed and the team grew as well as the work and responsibilities.
Creativity? What Creativity?
Fast forward to the present. Many days I have to coordinate the team, have meetings with the big wigs, colleagues or external agencies and put together data of costs, reports and basically keep the cogs oiled. I often look back and think, “what am I doing? I’ve only spent about 10% of my day being creative! (or even less)”
Recently I had exaclty one of those days. Upon reflection, instead of just assuming (as I usually do) that I hadn’t been the least bit creative I decided to look at it from a different spectrum which inspired to write this article about some of my personal conclusions that hopefully might help one or two designers going through the same.
Creativity isn’t just about pretty drawings
The title pretty much sums it all up. I’m not sure about the process for other designers, but I was always taught to believe the mantra that a designer has to create artwork… always… even when working with typography. This means that sometimes we might browse through sites like Behance or Dribbble and think “Oh wow! Such creative people! I’m such a fraud…”. It might make some designers feel like they were never that creative to start with or that they’ve given their best and are now ripe to be put out to pasture…
This is where the perspective I mention comes in. When I have to figure a way of keeping the team and the work moving forward, am I not being creative on an organisational level? When looking through reports, data and costs, isn’t the way I try to organise the information for easier reading a creative process as well as figuring out what to do with that data? When I sit down in a meeting, trying to extract the right information from colleagues or respond to their needs is a creative process.
The good news is we’re all creative
Yes, exactly that, even people with no formal creative training are in turn creative. For the reasons mentioned above and a long list of others. An accountant has to figure out how to archive the information they work with to make it easier to consult or share with others. A Scientist has to figure out a new angle to look at his work to reach new conclusions and the list goes on.
This might come as a shock to creative people because many of us think we have exclusivity on creativity and often feel we know better than those outside our industry. This is not true and by including others in your creative process one might in turn unlock potential that was dormant that can make both grow.
How do I compete with so many creative people?
You don’t! Or at least you don’t have to think of it in that way.
Remember when you were studying? How many doodles did you create? How many incredible projects did you produce as part of your schoolwork? How many dream projects did you create? Exactly! It’s a bit more scary today because that information is all out there and we can get totally overwhelmed with all the creativity, but much of it probably never got implemented or many are variations on a similar concept that already exists.
When going through a creative site ask yourself, yes it’s beautiful or super creative, but with your experience of the industry does that particular piece look like something a client would ever accept or implement? The design or layout is pretty, but how often would it actually negatively affect the project because of poor conversion or lack of clearness to the user/client?
Think of it also as a oportunity to evolve your skill. They have the collective knowledge of which we had a part in creating, so they’re catching the boat a little further down the river. Use that to your advantage, get in the car and drive further down the river!
Don’t ever think you’re not creative just because you didn’t draw a pretty picture today. If you look back at your day you’ll probably find that you had to be pretty creative and in some aspects it actually challenged you more than the creative process that you already do with your eyes closed.
Helps keep us on our toes!