Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What? There’s a Bolt in My Neck?!

“The idea that creativity is some abundantly available resource waiting simply for the right application of ingenuity to extract, refine, and pipe it into the grid seems so axiomatic at this cultural juncture that the very distinction between creativity and productivity has been effectively erased.”[1]-Alexi Murdoch

It’s a worn out conversation that the right brain is creative and the left brain is logical and all of that crap. We all know it; and it’s B-O-R-I-N-G! Here’s the thing I wish every client and every employer of creative people could learn…and it’s really simple.  Creativity is NOT the same thing as Productivity! There, I said it out loud. This is not a new topic of conversation, but deserves to be screamed from Art & Design Departments over every PA system in every building and plastered across every visible flat surface! There…I said that too!

I want those who hire and manage creative people to realize this fact…we are not machines! We don’t fart background music and sneeze pixels out of our noses! Creativity is not something that can be manufactured on a moment’s notice or when the demand strikes an impatient procrastinating client or department head. “Oh, I’m sure you can get this back to me by tomorrow! You’re awesome!”
What does the creative brain need? What is the proper method of nurturing your favorite creative person so the good stuff will continue to flow? These are good questions to consider when dealing with your designer. The answers are not the same for every creative person. One might listen to music, while another might like to take naps. The only way to find out is to ask. The best way to burn them out or piss them off at you, is to assume they can produce award-winning designs just because you ask them to….by tomorrow!

If you recognize yourself here as the demanding client or employer, please understand that the creative person you’re working with IS different…they’re not behaving weird for no reason! They take great pride in that weirdness because they know something that you do not…being creative is a gift, a talent, a honed skill and deep understanding of how to create something from nothing more than an idea or request! So what if their hair is 7 different colors and they wear black every day? So what? And so what if they have a private life which doesn't fit into your belief system? So what? What matters is that you have a working relationship with a creative individual who has magic inside. They don’t see deadlines, budgets, numbers or your bragging rights. They see colors, shapes, patterns, flying, floating ideas and concepts which don’t have descriptions yet because there are no words to describe these things. This can’t be contained in a cubical or forced out on a page…so stop demanding it!

If you’re the creative person who is by now, no doubt jumping up and down, fist-bumping and shouting; “Hell yeah!” Sit down, because I’m not finished. It is your responsibility to find out how to nurture that part of you and communicate that to the client or employer. It’s your responsibility to take care of the gift, not just dress differently or dye your hair to establish the visible identity. Work out a process that works for you and for the client/employer. Then hone that process. So you’re not understood…don’t be a diva (male or female) be an awesome, responsible designer, artist or illustrator…whatever your discipline happens to be. Be the one in demand because you have the ability to create understanding of who you are and how you work best.

Communication works both ways. All parties involved need to talk about this right up front. If you need it by tomorrow, then understand it may not be a winning design. It may contain stock photography and redundant design elements from previous work. You get that, right? On the other hand, if you want an award-winning design to really brag about, talk to your designer (creative person) to find out how they work and what you can do to help that along. Designers- just know that there are many clients who have no idea what a design process is…educate them. After all, we all want the same thing…those awards sitting on our bookshelves and desks, right?


1. The quote is borrowed from one of my favorite blogs; Brain Pickings by Maria Popova

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