A Manifesto for Creative Professionals.
Somewhere in your personal history a decision was made to forgo a “real job”; one your parents would understand. Artist, creative director, writer, musician, photographer, actor, fine artist or pick one – you got attention for a talent or liked doing it so much that there was just no room to commit significant time to a profession less flattering gratifying. You became one of them sensitive types whose ego is vulnerably bonded to their work. True objective distance is pointless but it’s best to have a survival strategy.
Let’s start here:
1. Hold on tight to your “why”. Why do you do this thing you do? It is the root of all you create and the power of your inspiration.
2. The boss is the problem; the puzzle to solve, the idea to create, the crowd to excite, or your soul to satisfy. Don’t piss off the boss.
3. There’s NO plan “B”. Quit moonlighting. Put in the hours; work without a net. If you have a plan “B” it’s too easy to bail, and you’ll want to. Part timers can’t keep up with the guy who’s bustin’ it like a sex crazed school boy.
4. It’s a passion play for pay. You’re a whore, or not, it all depends on how much money is in the bank. It’s a crucial balance that keeps sanity from escaping. Your clarity of purpose resolves the left and right hemispheres. Ultimately the decision for what kind of creative you are going to be is up to you, but don’t let the vision go blurry.
5. Industry best practices are not creative. Best practices are maintenance and benchmarking is linear: this leads to that, variation is less professional. The state of the art didn’t arrive by formula or recipe.
6. Your creativity is about your heart, not their surface. Creativity is your world view filtered through your talent. It’s your passion, experience, expertise, inspiration and your rules that drive you to create wonderful things that you’re destined to hate because they’re not good enough, and others are open to admire because they couldn’t do it.
7. The committee is usually wrong; however the crowd is commonly right but incredibly dull. If you’re part of the crowd you will be sourced and forgotten.
8. Ideas are like lightning strikes hitting you unaware after you’ve been rubbing a cat balloon on a wool carpet for months.
9. Everyone is creative but only a select few can deal with the risk of ego crushing rejection that inevitably comes from the direction you least expect. If your work is worth more to you than the safety of groups or a secure fortune then you’re “a creative”.
10. That road block was dropped there for a reason; it’s so you learn how to maneuver or to accept the pain of hitting it. Either way, if you don’t survive the test, it wasn’t worth the trip.
11. Find a way to turn your weaknesses into strengths, but don’t tell anyone you’re doing it.
12. Putting creativity into words dilutes the idea unless you’re a writer. It’s only creative if you actually create it. “I could’ve done that” doesn’t count.
13. If you have a style, be sure it’s following you and not vice versa. If you’re chasing your style, you’ve taken a wrong turn. (see #5 “best practices”) Follow your muse, let others call it your style. Don’t borrow from yourself too often.
14. Don’t let anyone talk you out of your passion. If you have passion for an idea, don’t lose it by asking others if they think it’s good. They probably won’t.
15. Lose the habit of being successful. Success can doom your career to mediocrity. Embrace the fact that you’re never going to make it and find comfort in other things. Once success becomes your work, it’s over and if you’re a creative professional, success looks an awful lot like cash and cheering crowds.
16. Imagination is hot, execution is cold. The flame is illusive; if you must obsess about something, make it a flame search. “I think part of the process of this whole thing is to get as close to the flame as you can get without being burned” – Graham Nash
17. Imagination accelerates in the abstract and slows with tangibility. Daydream, maintain vulnerability, innocence and a sense of wonder so that your creativity stays vigorous.
18. Think disruptive thoughts, embrace chaos and be the sworn rival of systematic tidiness. Get in the face of tight systems that work well for no reason.
19. Snub expectations. Excitement needs space; throw a few elbows if required. Picasso’s friend and art critic, Guillaume Apollinaire, encouraged his cohorts to “innovate violently! Much more risky for creative professionals, is to abide by rules.