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My Creative Professional Life and Times, part one


I was thinking about what the future might hold for someone considering a career, or starting their own business, as a creative professional. What might they learn from my experience in the marketing world?  And what if I was advising my own daughter on her options? I’d still evangelize (it’s my nature!) but I’d also want to give her the straightest possible answers.

So, what’s so great about becoming a creative professional? Welcome, my child, to the world I love…

Creative professionals-banner

‘Creative professional’ means different things to different people. They come in all shapes and sizes. They work in, and for, all kinds of industries, private and public, large and small, doing all kinds of things. Viewed through the lens of business communications, this takes in advertising, PR, special events, customer and stakeholder engagement, lead generation and nurturing, sales promotions, all of which involve many different skills and the use of any and all digital and traditional media.

To some organizations, the creative professional’s work is mission-critical; to others, not so much. Yet it’s easy to see that the Internet and social networks have upped the stakes significantly. As it becomes easier to communicate (or, worse, to miscommunicate), there’s less and less room in the business world for amateurs.

What this means is that the opportunities are unlimited. You can build a solid career in any industry you like. You can build your own company. You can make a comfortable living or you can become wealthy. It’s up to you, commensurate with your talent and ambitions. But whichever course you choose, you can look forward to some awesome rewards that have nothing to do with the money and everything to do with having what for me has been one hell of a ride…

Amazing perk #1: The toys you get to play with

Yes, I know – first we had computers and data processing and telecom, of course. But in my own experience the digital revolution really began in the creative arts: software-based  design, publishing, photo editing, illustration, animation, audio and video. Each of these now has its own subset of astonishingly advanced new tools, most of which are both relatively affordable and accessible.

In the marketing world, today’s creative professionals are expected to have at least a working knowledge of what most of these tools do, if not how to actually use them. And that’s where the fun begins…

Exploring and pushing the limits of your creative and technical proficiencies can be a truly mind-expanding experience. It will help you find where in that spectrum you fit best. It will give you a deeper, broader understanding and appreciation of collaborative, multi-disciplinary processes. The experience also prepares you for working more effectively with the real pros in their respective fields. This brings us to Amazing Perk #2…

Amazing perk #2: The people you get to work with

The more you learn about the creative arts, the more fulfilling it is to work with people who excel in ways that you don’t. I doubt that I’ll ever forget the first time I heard what the words I’d written for a TV commercial actually sounded like when they were delivered by a professional actor. Or the first time I saw what a graphic designer did with my headline and an oh-so-crude pencil-sketched idea. Or when a photographer captured the essence of what the designer and I were both hoping for – but in a completely unexpected way. Or when a musician added a soundtrack. And an audio engineer mixed it all down – voices, background sounds, music, sound effects – to sweet perfection.

Designers don’t think like writers. Photographers don’t think like designers. Directors and producers choose their talent and their teams precisely for the unique sensibilities they bring to the party – and to a great extent they realize their own vision by giving people the freedom and encouragement to express their own vision.

And, please, let’s not forget the boys and girls in the back office – the ones who make sure we all get paid. Let’s hear it for the suits – the hunters and farmers who work the trenches and win us the gigs in the first place. Without them, without their unique and equally skill sets, the whole show comes grinding to a halt.

All of this was as vital when I started out as it is today. In the digital age, collaborations like these happen in pretty much the same way – on steroids, of course. Throw in some Internet connectivity and your talent pool widens rather considerably; things happen instantly. Now meet the new kids on the block: coders, analysts, web and motion graphics and user experience designers… I could go on…

Diverse skills, roles, responsibilities, interactions, different personalities, work habits, social skills – it’s quite the dynamic. And what’s the one thing they all have in common? They’re all working for the customer, the people who sign the cheques. That’s a whole other experience – equally dynamic, just as creative, just as fulfilling.

Please stay tuned for part two…