Young people have been constantly told that taking an arts degree is a waste of time – that the money has and always will be in business and STEM industries. While that’s still true, businesses today are seeing a spiking demand for graphic illustrators, web designers, and content creators. This is the age of digital creatives – we are witnessing Youtubbers, bloggers, and graffiti artists earn a living through various online platforms, each conquering niche markets that older business veterans never would have imagined.

So, in the sea of many talented creative professionals, you may be asking what it takes to make it in the digital age. Here’s a listicle to help you develop the necessary mindset, attitudes, and philosophy needed to make it as a creative professional – the best at what you do.

1) Stop Believing Common Myths About Creativity

Firstly, it’s important to throw all common misconceptions about creativity out the door:

Originality myth: Ever heard the term ‘there’s nothing new under the sun’? There’s no such thing as an ‘original’ artist, idea or artwork. Every great creative professional has built their unique craft upon the inspiration of other artists and their work. Even empirical research has shown that ‘original’ ideas are simply innovations and combinations of other pre-existing ideas. You will find your own voice as you innovate and improve on the ideas of others.

Stop Brainstorming Ideas: This is not new news. A group of people brainstorming ideas don’t work. It can actually run counter to why you needed to brainstorm with other creatives in the first place. Jake Knapp cites several studies that have been done to prove that the best ideas and solutions have actually come from individual thinking. You can read more *here.  What works is not having a group of people come up with creative ideas and solutions; instead, your creative project will significantly benefit if there is one clear goal with everyone expanding on it.

2) Have effortless conversations

Conversations spark ideas. An entire synopsis for my comic book came from playing ‘continue the story with a phrase’ with a good friend. A discussion on masculinity with a stranger at a cafe inspired content for my Youtube talk show. Art is about expression and communication – if you fail to do this its simplest form, how can your work communicate revolutionary ideas?

3) Understand social media but use less of it

Social media is the ultimate way to market yourself and your work to the public. However, it can also be a major distraction when you become more occupied with showcasing your craft than actually making it. A simple rule of thumb is that anything that can be a distraction should be avoided altogether. You don’t have to delete all your social media handles. Just remember opportunity cost: for everything you’re doing, there’s something else you’re not doing – every time you’re on social media, someone else is getting better at your craft.

4) Board the digital marketing train or get left behind

Gone are the days where just knowing how to draw or make music earned you your stripes in the industry. Today, if your work isn’t shown online, it doesn’t exist. It is absolutely essential to learn at least the basics of digital marketing to drive traffic to your portfolio. SEO, CTA’s, EDM’s, and marketing funnels are words you should already be familiar with.

5) The only competition is yourself

There’ll never be another Freddie Mercury or Picasso. Nor should there be. It’s limiting to aspire to be as great as a legend when you can be one yourself, in your own right. An artist’s only enemy is who he was yesterday. Your art today must be better than it was yesterday.

6) Eat criticism for breakfast

Repeat after me: let people judge your work. If your art is only for you, then disregard this advice. Chances are however, you’re doing work that you wish to showcase to others. In this case, learn that any comment and feedback is good feedback. A creative professional is one that doesn’t just accept criticism – he incorporates it into making his craft better.

7) Be curious about everything

Ask questions. The relevant questions. Questions that don’t give you just one answer. You’ll find wanting to know more about things you’re not remotely interested in can help with inspiration and associative learning – the kind that allows you to understand how intricate details in the world work together to form the big picture.

8) Stay hungry

Most importantly, be happy with your work but never be satisfied. The best professionals have always been the ones who wanted their dreams more than anyone else. They wake up hungry for their craft and go to sleep dreaming of how to make it better. Everyday.

 

Whether you’re a writer, comic artist, or musician creating work, you owe it to yourselves to be the best at what you do, to share with the world your best quality work to inspire others to do the same.

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