01. Be bold and focus
Focus on the type of work you want and like to create. It’s far easier to succeed and grow if you know what you want. If you’ve not yet had a chance to create the work you love, don’t worry. Just get on and make it.
While working, create something interesting that pushes the boundaries. When we meet with clients, we like to offer ideas across what we call the ‘scale of bravery’ - if one is playing it safe and 10 is radical, we always aim for five and above.
We understand that creativity improves things and makes things better and that’s why we often say that we are ‘always in beta’ – we always have new things to learn, new ways to grow and adapt to the world around us. This is really important – stay interested and aware of how the world is culturally and socially shifting and you’ll maintain a critical perspective.
02. Meet and talk to people (virtually)
Whether via video chats, LinkedIn, blogs or social media, start small conversations with people you find interesting and admire and talk. Start conversations where you can really add value and develop a relationship. This allows you to think beyond yourself which is important as creativity is collaborative. Be open to ideas and ways of working that might be different to yours and learn to understand them.
03. Use this gift of time
There’s a lot of uncertainty at the moment and that can drive negativity – the best way to challenge this is to make things. This is a really great way to get back on the front foot and be productive, and when you make things you have something to talk about. Whether you help a struggling local business with messaging, create an app or ideas with friends to help the community or simply develop your own designs, you are creating work with a tangible meaning. This is then a self-fulfilling prophecy as you are feeling productive and also becoming part of the industry.
Another good thing to do is to use this time to systemize your folio so it’s easy for people on the outside to understand and get a good idea of who you are. Be brutal – get rid of deadwood, the work that is too broad or weak. It’s better to have fewer pieces that are brilliant than a lot of work that is average. It’s easy to fall into the sea of sameness where work can look and feel like many others - learn to aggregate your work in a way that makes you stand out.
04. Find your tribe
Research studios that can help facilitate your ways of working and play to your strengths as you develop. Don’t get caught up on job vacancies or titles – worry about the quality of the work you are producing. Far too many people focus on getting specific roles when the only thing that matters is that you are doing vital and rewarding work – chase the projects and the exciting ways of working instead. When you’re ready, reach out to them. Be positive and additive – people buy into people. So the more natural, interesting and upbeat you are, the more you will connect.
Ultimately, use this time to explore who you are and what you want to communicate as a creative. When we hire, we look at attitudes over skills. You can teach technical skills but you can’t teach creative perspectives. We help to draw that out. You may design using a pencil, charcoal or a computer but if you don’t understand the reason or meaning to what you are doing it becomes pointless. Design today is no longer a fixed state – it scales, it breaks, it changes and adapts with how people use it. So you must learn the engine that drives it as well as the specific technical skills, and that will keep you designing with passion throughout your, hopefully, long career.