Creative Director at WeAreBeard.
Mark is joined by the Creative Director at Worcester-based design, branding and development agency WeAreBeard, Dave Webb, to share his top tips for working in the kind of field that your mum told you you should have a backup for.
Dave remembers the first day he was praised for drawing something good, instead of being made to feel like he was falling behind academically, which is where his affinity for creative work began.
A creative person’s priorities often don’t fit in with a “professional” culture, which can lead to clashes, of which both Mark and Dave have experience.
In order of discussion:
Don’t have a plan B
Make an achievable, flexible plan and work towards it. Consider subsidising it if you can’t make a living at it, and keep a record of your success so you can measure how far along you are.
Be childlike, but not childish
A child’s enthusiasm is an inspirational thing to keep around, as it gives us curiosity and wonder, making us more receptive. A child’s attitude to criticism… not so much.
Be excited by your work
If you’re not excited about your work, you can’t expect anyone else to be. That goes not only for the work that you create from whole cloth, but the ideas presented to you, or even professional briefs. If you enjoy working on a project, that enjoyment shines through, but the inverse is also true.
Failing is learning
Don’t be afraid to make a mistake, because chances are you’ll make lots of them as you’re starting out, but making those mistakes, figuring out what went wrong is what equips you to do better next time.
It’s a numbers game
Looping back to Dave’s original point, your time will come if you stick at what you want to do, and wait out the competition who give up too soon.
In order of discussion:
If encountering others’ work, whether you’re being asked to critique or not, focus on the things that matter, rather than what might be elements of technique alone that can be improved.
Some people ask “why?” instead of “why not?”, so in those moments where someone doesn’t see the worth in what you see, maybe it’s time to dig your heels in and advocate for your thing.
Run your own race
If you’re running a race ,while you need to keep half an eye on your competitors o you know when to push ahead, your primary focus should be on the finish line. With creativity, we need to compare sparingly and in context.
Use what you have to hand
If you can’t afford the latest up-to-date music creation software, or the most-expensive DSLR camera, that doesn’t make you less of a musician or photographer — your work is in you, not your tools. Yes, they can make the creative process easier, but “XKCD isn’t successful because it looks great”.
Take all advice with a pinch of salt
Your goal is to improve on the work you did yesterday, not to improve on someone else’s. This is your art, your work, your creativity, and your choices.
- Dress for the industry you’ll be working in, not what you think you’re supposed to wear.
- Show your work in an email; don’t send a precursor and wait for an invitation.
- If you’ve sent a legitimate email, don’t be afraid to follow up (this doesn’t apply unless you know the full name of the person you’re emailing, and you have their permission to email).
More of Dave Webb