Five key thoughts for creatives starting out
1. Luck has little to do with it so stop pinning your dreams on it.
Waiting for the planets to align and gift you the ultimate job is a sure way to get nowhere. When it comes to creative success luck is only a tiny part of the equation and has nothing on hard work and created opportunities. Stop thinking your idols are lucky, they didn't get there by avoiding black cats, they got their because of their skill and their effort.
2. Write your goals and tick them off.
While we all have daydreams of where we want to be in our heads, writing them down can take us one step closer to realising them and processing how to achieve them. When I first decided I wanted to be an illustrator I set my goals, broke them down in to stages, and wrote them on my calendar. For example: wanting to have an exhibition was broken down in to a few broad steps:
- having the idea
- doing the work
- finding a venue,
...and then from there smaller ideas such as promo, what kind of prints, sorting out pricing etc were added. I then put these ideas in to my calendar:
"Have work completed for an exhibition by 21st Oct".
I would then do earlier warnings in my calendar of that goal date coming up soon. I found that by doing this I created my own deadlines, taking it out of my head and making it a real thing. If I ever missed a deadline I felt guilty and disappointed with myself which was a feeling I wanted to avoid, and so I would always meet my deadlines and feel fulfilled. I found this was a really successful approach for me to get started, it encouraged me to turn my thoughts in to reality.
3. Know your business
Unfortunately a lot of creatives are not naturally business minded, and a lot of important things are not covered by degrees or university study. There are often many details you don't even know you need to know, and they only come up once you start working, this is always a big problem. Not only do you need to create the work, but you also need to protect your copyright, licence the usage of your work, charge accordingly and communicate in a professional manner. Do some research, ask questions, get mentors, do internships and do as much as you can to learn about business practice. The sooner you work well the faster you will succeed.
4. Practice and promote
To be good you need to put in the time. The more work you produce for yourself the better you will become at your craft, and the more efficient you will become at creating it (which you want when working to the dollar). A creative doing work gets work, so put it the time and get busy. Once you have the work share it, tell people about it and get it out there so that possible future clients can see it.
5. The big guys are people too.
One of the best things I ever realised was that advertising agencies are filled with people just like me. They are not scary men in suits who intimidate, they are you a few years down the track. Often they are the same age as you, and you will probably see them knocking back beers in the weekend just like anyone else. This is the same with brands, magazines and any company, sure they might know more about some things than you do, but it goes both ways, we are all people, so just say hi.
Photographer - Lachlan Bailey