Good & bad creative advice

This giant statue of Superman stands in front ...

via wikipedia

I take it as a given that people offering advice want to be helpful. BUT. Haven’t you found that well-meaning advice only sometimes hits its mark?

Tone is important, and there is no one-size-fits-all. Humor and reflection are key in the mentors I seek out. I notice that the discourse about design and creativity often becomes fervent, intense, zealous. That makes sense because for creative people work is intertwined with identity. But my confidence is sapped instead of amped by Superman-style advice: “harder, better, faster, stronger.”

There’s a lot of it out there: Be Tireless; Be Amazing. I say, Be Human. Daniel Mall suggests how in Design by Comfort. Design is not a religion, nor a demanding mistress. Young designers are supposed to be hungry, but what’s not discussed is that managing burnout is a creative skill they will need to learn.



Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking
The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life
Dancemaker Twyla Tharp takes a total view of creativity, drawing her references from many disciplines. The exercises she offers are evocative rather than directive.

The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination


Jonathan Fields: Conversations at the crossroads of work, play, entrepreneurship & life

Jonathan is a lawyer turned yoga teacher turned career entrepreneur and consultant. I attended a few classes at Sonic Yoga while he was the owner. Even after I stopped going, I welcomed their email newsletters because I connected with his writing—questing but not schmaltzy—and ultimately I followed him to his online platform.

Spin Sucks – Social media strategy and social media consulting for marketing and PR

I have no idea how Spin Sucks earned a permanent place in my Google Reader. I found it somehow and it stuck. I like their attitude. CEO Gini Dietrich writes a lot about business leadership, strategic thinking and new media—I find this relevant to practicing design and being a good online citizen.

3 Responses to “Good & bad creative advice”
  1. We have a saying here about advice…”Some of it is good; some of it sucks; but we’re smart enough to take what makes sense and throw the rest away.” I agree with you – the best advice is “be human.”

    And I agree that Jonathan Fields is a must read. I don’t know how we ended up in your Reader either, but THANK YOU!! Very nice blog post!

    • beckhen says:

      Thanks! I can definitely adopt that saying.

      Reading your blog I’ve started thinking there are certain parallels between PR and graphic design as misunderstood industries. People wonder “What do you really do?” and “Are you about window dressing?”—when the idea is to communicate your clients’ core values.

      • It’s the non-tangible services that people can’t get their arms around. They don’t understand branding or communication because they can’t hold it, tough it, or feel it. They understand “window dressing” so that’s what they revert to. I started my business five years ago and we just this year figured out that if we tell clients, in our proposals, how many hours each week they get from us, they’re less likely to debate what we’re doing from them. In our industries, it’s all about expectations setting.

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