Recently I was in a seminar setting where the speaker made the following statement, "you have to choose between a designer that is creative and one that makes their deadlines". I'll be honest, that statement made my blood boil.
For starters I see this condition, what I call, "artist entitlement" among creatives in every field. Basically, it's used primarily as an excuse to miss deadlines, have temper tantrums or otherwise behave unprofessionally. It saddens me that so many creatives behave this way that colleagues mention it in their seminars.
I for one, have never met a deadline I didn’t conquer or at least communicate with the client with unavoidable circumstances. Bottom line, I was professional. That’s not to say that situations don’t come up. I had the flu for a week a few years ago and was unable to work throwing me behind many deadlines. But the first thing I did when I got sick was contact my business partner and have him send emails to our clients explaining the situation and that I’d be back at it ASAP.
Those situations are not what I’m discussing here. I’m talking about the creatives that hide behind their art as a way to be the exception to the rules. Deadlines are always in place for a reason. As a creative we must determine a routine that works for us.
Yes, there are days when I “feel” more creative than others, but if I use my time wisely those days I can knock out multiple projects in each sitting. I do not feel for a moment that my attention to deadlines has even remotely hindered my creativity or ability to create solid designs.
I was recently asked how I seem to be able to produce 24/7 Here’s what works for me:
1. Mull it over. When I get a project, I let it set in my To Do list for a couple of days. During this time, while I’m working on other projects and taking care of business it’s marinating in my mind. Yes, there are often a LOT of projects up there, but ultimately what happens, is I will see something or hear something that will spark the creativity for that task. Rather than getting a project and sitting down to immediately belt out a design I need to think through it most times.
2. Have a process, but don’t be married to it. When I attack a certain TYPE of project I have a general process. Logos have one process, Typeset have something totally different. But occasionally I will break free from the way “I always do it” to create something differently. Maybe using a different program, finding new fonts, finding new brushes, whatever it takes to stir up the creativity and get me inspired and excited about the work. Sticking to a deadline doesn’t mean you have to become a design robot that never thinks anymore.
3. Work smarter not harder. This is one of my favorite cliches but it’s SO true for a designer. If we save our time, work efficiently and limit our time wasters you will be amazed how much you can accomplish. However, it’s important to know yourself. I work better with lots of human interaction. Whether I’m chatting with people in my office or virtually chatting with friends online, the human interaction inspires me as I work. I cannot work long isolated and alone. Sometimes, I need that, when I’m stressing out or otherwise upset, but the majority of the time, the more interaction the better for my creative process. Some people think that that should slow me down? And for some it would.
If you’re a creative, don’t allow yourself to use creativity like a crutch to get out of things. Don’t make excuses or feel ‘entitled’ to have a bad attitude, bad work ethic or bad disposition. Remember that we are providing a service. As such, we are required to make deadlines, make changes and make things happen. Do it professionally, courteously and quickly.