He was a bullfrog (love that song) and the "Weeping Prophet" in the bible, however, this is not about a frog or a bug. Many summers ago, I named a grasshopper...
Business is business but I think creative entrepreneurship brings different challenges than say, something more definitive – like accounting. There will always be tax preparation and bookkeeping needs but not everyone believes in professional marketing communications. When I tell people I provide creative services they’re like, “Ohhh. OK.” No clue. For many, my job description is “something with computers.” Let’s go with that. Fortunately what I do is visual and if done right, visceral. When they see it, they get it. I’m a visual communicator but I would not have had the success I’ve had were it not for a creative edge.
One of many lessons I’ve learned over the years is to respect my creativity. Anyone who has ever been creatively blocked knows how hard it is to summon your most creative self on demand. If you’re able to bring forth anything, it’s not enough or not good enough (in your opinion). I tend to be my own worst critic but I’ve even learned to cut myself some slack.
As a creative person, I also understand that if I am not passionate about a project or my client is not passionate about their services or products, it’s hard for me to create something inspired. It’s like anything creative – there has to be a recipe for success. Some of the ingredients include:
- a well though out vision of what they want to do
- a clearly defined market – who they want to reach
- level of passion and commitment they have for what they do
In instances where I feel nothing, I can only create something professional. But when it’s something I believe in, or am touched or inspired by, that’s the set up for some powerful creative work. When I was in college studying graphic design, we had some projects with strict guidelines and others where we were given very little direction and asked to “come up with something.” I liked both types of assignments. As a seasoned designer, I can do either of those projects. I prefer the ones where I’m entrusted to “do what I do” rather than do a job any designer worth his weight could do. We call it pushing pixels. I keep my designer ego in check but I always get a feeling when something I do is on point. If I miss, I know one of those key ingredients I mentioned was missing.
The Business of Creative Businesses
The business side of graphic and web design has not been easy for me. I’m not a natural-born sales person and for many years, didn’t charge what my work was worth. That caused me to feel undervalued so I raised my prices. Then I was out of range for the people I usually worked with. So I kept my prices moderate but did 20 times the work. That didn’t work either. I have suffered “burn out” on several occasions over the years but I knew there had to be a better way. I also didn’t believe God would give me these creative gifts I’ve always used to help people with no way to sustain a lifestyle. A few months ago, I finally understood that what I do – and ultimately anything I do – has to be spirit led. That includes graphic and web design. If my intuition tells me to go a certain way, I’m going. I might check in with my head to see if it makes sense but otherwise, I don’t ask a whole lot of questions. I have passion for what I do and I troop on if it feels right – no matter what others think or see.
Living Life Creatively
As the year draws to a close, I realize I spent a great deal of time reflecting on all areas of my life. I’ve not only reflected, but I’ve been doing the hard work I needed to do and have remained focus on planning and goal setting. I guarantee it will pay off. I do what I do because I love it – love being creative. It brings me happiness and a sense of peace. Knowing something I do can help someone fulfill their potential is what I’m here to do. I suspect I will be used in other ways but right now, I continue to work on getting better, mastering my tools and living life creatively.