A Manifesto for Struggling Creatives
This article was contributed by Robert Katai.
This is the kind of manifesto you’ve wanted to hear at that certain point in your career, just when you thought that everything would go down.
This is the kind of article you’ve wanted to hear at the beginning of your career. But most of all, this is the kind of article I’ve personally wanted to write down for all the designers and creatives out there, who struggle every day with clients, projects and other personal fights.
Let me put it in other words: this is not that kind of motivational or inspirational stuff you will read on I-don’t-know-what-guru or life-coach specialist will tell you.
You are not just a simple line drawer. You are more than this and you should think about you every day, every time you turn on your computer or stay at the table and start drawing.
You are more than a simple line and curves drawer.
1. You are a creator
Because you have a white paper in front of you and you start creating. Line by line by line you do magic. Sometimes your magic is good and sometimes your magic is bad. But never ever should you let other people say if it’s bad or good. Only you can tell if the creation that gets out of your mind, heart and hand is good or bad.
Only creators can create things from scratch. And this is you! You are a creator. You create more than a simple paint, illustration or graphic design. You create magic.
I love Instagram. Because it’s that social network where you can find creativity in almost every picture that pops up on your screen (I said almost because it depends on who you follow). If you look at Zipeng Zhu, you will see an Instagram creator account. Why? Because it’s not that morning coffee picture or a man-on-hill style one. It’s that account you need to follow so you can see how a creator thinks.
Even if we talk about brands, beautiful magazine covers, social media ads or other apps, you create something from zero.
Think about yourself as a creator.
2. You are a problem solver
A designer’s mind created the metro map. A designer’s mind created the way we cross the street when it’s green and the way we stop when it’s read. A designer’s mind created the way you read this blog post. Exactly. And all of this is a solution for a problem. Just think about everything you see today, or work today, or how you drive your car and shop for your home.
Everything is design. And design is more than a beautiful visual thing. Design is a solution for a problem.
As I look at my friend Marius Ciuchete, I see him more than a simple designer or Creative Director. For me (and hundreds of other clients), he is a problem solver. As you can see in his work, he creates things that others can’t do. Why? Because when he starts working, he keeps his problem solver mentality.
And that mentality is an important step for you – even if you are a web designer, UX designer, product designer, creative director, art director, illustrator, graffiti painter.
This is why you, as a designer, should think like a problem solver. You see the problem and you should come with a solution. This is not UX, graphic design, branding or whatever you think it is. This is design.
And as a designer, you should consider yourself responsible for finding the solution for a problem.
3. You connect
Now think about this: you have your phone next to you. I don’t know what kind of phone, it doesn’t matter. And that phone connects you with other people. That phone connects you with you family, friends, clients, colleagues and other people. That phone connects you. Now look at it closer. Do you see all the shapes, buttons, display and other features? That is design. There was a designer who thought about them day by day by day and wanted to help people connect each other through that thing.
Even if we talk about e-mails, chats, messengers or other channels we use. Some of them have a beautiful interface, easy to use the platform. Why? Because there is a designer’s touch.
As my buddy Jean-Marc Denis (VR at Google) said:
“If you design for yourself you don’t always succeed because you are not often the common denominator. Knowing your user is vital.“
This is the point I remind you that you don’t design for yourself. You design for the entire world – or to be more clear – you design for a person. A person who will connect with your product and wants to connects with others.
Keep that in mind when you do your next work.
So yes, my dear designer, you connect by everything you do. Even if you create brands, books, covers, banner ads, billboards or apps. You connect with your work.
4. You innovate
Every designer’s dream is to come with something new on the market. And that “something” to become a trend that most of the community will follow. But when you focus more on making an innovating trend because you think people will understand it’s time for a change, then that will be your moment.
Every creative person knows who Jonathan Ivy is. Now let me ask you something, is he an innovator or only a designer? Some of you will tell me he’s an innovator and some of you – he’s a designer. I’m telling you he’s both at the same.
A designer should be an innovator and an innovator should think like a designer.
Innovation is one of the hardest things you can accomplish today in your daily job. I think that in every company other managers (product, marketing, sales) should start thinking like designers.
I take a look at our Product Manager from Bannersnack and I know he had a lot of ideas to implement in our product, but he is always looking at how designers think about innovation, performance and optimizing work. And the idea he wants to implement must be at the perfect place, in the perfect moment for the perfect person.
Steve Jobs said:
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower. “
Now let me ask you something: are you an leader or a follower?
5. You are a hero
Finally, you are a hero. Because only a hero is a creator. Only a hero find solutions for a problem. Only a hero connects people and only a true hero innovates only in important moments.
I’m looking at you as a hero for me, for my wife, for my parents, for my friends and for my community. You are a hero for me and I respect that.
Everybody must respect that.
When a car brand launches a new car, the hero who created that car helps the customer to have a better life. Drive safer, faster and more comfortable. When a phone brand launches a new product, it designs that product in order to help the customer connect easier, make more things with less resources and be better in their daily job. And only a hero can do this.
My dear designer, today think about you as a creator, problem solver, people connector, innovator, but most of all, as a hero.
Thank you for reading this and if you have any other person in your mind who’d like to read it, just feel free to share or e-mail it. For more inspirational manifestos see here.