Last week we took a trip to the black and white world of Allen Hollingshead and his amazing work, outlook, and general supply list. If you missed this interview with the photo realist, I strongly suggest you check it out.
This week I’d like to explore a theme that resonates between Allen’s fidelity to the limited color palette and this blog: creative integrity. This has to do with the classic misconception that shinier is better, bigger is better, newer is better, techier is better, color is better, trendy is better. Creative integrity is about the importance of avoiding dangerous shortcuts, knowing how you think, and capitalizing on that knowledge. If you ignore creative integrity, you could eventually be ousted from whatever position you manage to cling to.
I have three things to say about this, but first:
To quote Allen from last week,
“I feel like I am a spokesman for the conservation of traditional graphite art not only as a tool to facilitate a better understanding of art but also a mechanic to create fine art as well.”
1. Embrace the Process to Achieve Creative Integrity
Just as Allen is a spokesman for conserving beautiful slivers of graphite on hotpress, so are we all for the traditional methods of creating amazing ideas. Today the world is full of people who create without putting time into research and deep thought into the creative process. Their idea of a creative process consists of jumping on the computer and immediately beginning to design. Even those who sketch digitally or begin with mood boards are starving themselves of the necessary steps of an exploratory and generative thinking development. It can be grueling at times, but the results become ambrosial as they satiate your hunger for a complete, thoughtfully developed idea.
Don’t be fooled, those who use these processes are not a dying breed. The ones dying are those who lazily refuse to embrace a solid process and insist on their reliance on surface ideas. It is this breed of creatives that you will eventually find serving you a latte at Starbucks as you meet with a client. Embrace the process and you will always have clients to buy your lattes for you.
2. Tell Them What They Need, Not What They Want
Speaking of clients, sometimes they are the ones who provide the surface idea and expect you to create based on that. They want something that will appease them rather than their customer or they are truly ignorant to their market. This is your chance to transform from a designer to a consultant and explore their options with them. If you know something is not going to work as well as it could for your client, you have an obligation to counsel them and open their eyes to solutions they have never fathomed. If you don’t think you should take initiative on this, remember that we are talking about the client’s financial lifeline. I think that’s serious enough business to have a chat. Besides, when you open the clients eyes, they see you more as a professional. You are no longer another designer for them to call and welcome into the quoting game. Your ideas and consultation now become major players alongside your work, which gives you value and makes them repeat clients who begin hiring you more for your impressive skill set rather than your price.
3. It Ain’t Easy
If you ever want to truly improve in something, you must do the hard things. You must push through all resistance, like a workout, or learning a new skill. If you do the easy things, you will get fleeting pleasure out of your current competency, but when you work on the parts that are difficult, you will grow and attain the satisfying confidence of complete mastery. What comes with mastery? Fulfillment, money, and happiness.