Three things every creative needs to know for career success

Author
Jim Ralley, Created Learning Designer
Date
19.09.18
The three Ps: Personal, Professional and Practice

Introducing the Whole Creative

You won’t have heard of the Whole Creative, because we made it up, but if you’re serious about career success and you’re a creative, we hope that after reading this, it will stick.

The world has changed. Creative companies demand more and more from their employees. But what exactly do they want? What should you focus on to have the best chance of nailing your career? At Created we’ve spent the last few years talking to industry to figure this out and discover the secret sauce from those who have ‘made it’.

Ultimately it boils down to this. The most successful creatives are those who focus their growth and development in three main areas: personal, professional, and practice.

Let’s start at the end. Practice.

Practice: The craft of making beautiful things

This is why we’re all here, right? The creative industries are about making beautiful things that audiences want to experience. There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of a brief well executed, a happy client, and people loving your work at the end.

There are thousands of people out there who want to do exactly what you do. Whether you’re just starting out, or long in the game, levelling up your practical skills will always be important.

We’re all digital creatives now, and the digital world moves insanely fast, demanding constant learning and adaptation. Whether it’s honing your storytelling, tweaking your creative process or learning a new tool or software, what can you do to stay ahead of the game, sharpen your craft, and keep your creative juices flowing in the midst of all that chaos? This is your life’s work. It’s your creative practice.

Professional: The ability to work with others

All the skill in the world means nothing if you can’t make it work in the context of an organisation. Nobody works in isolation – even the most genius, lone wolf, radical creatives operate within a system.

Meena Ayittey

When you work with people, they will be looking at your technical skills but they will also be looking at how you interpret things, how you work with others and how you work as a team.

Meena Ayittey
Director and Motion Designer

The transition is tough. Most of us hone our skills at home, in our bedrooms, watching endless tutorials, struggling with complex software, and making work that most people never see. The moment we hit our first job and commercial pressures kick in, everything changes.

There are expectations from all sides and we have to work faster than ever. We have to collaborate with relative strangers, give and receive feedback daily and learn to put commercial objectives ahead of our pride. This is about turning pro and not taking things personally, reframing failure and learning fast. And none of this can happen unless you know how to communicate – email, video calls, in person, Slack, sms – it all counts! All work is now teamwork, and to succeed we need to understand how to operate effectively in teams.

Ask yourself how confident you feel in all of these areas – what needs more attention? How do you know if you’re doing well here? Part of turning pro is recognising where you need to improve in the first place. Reach out to your team leader or mentor for guidance – they’ll thank you for it as it shows you’re proactively thinking about the contribution you make.

Personal: gaining self-awareness to achieve your potential

We’ve saved the biggie for last. This is your secret weapon: self-awareness.

It’s not enough to be skilled at what you do and to navigate effectively through the complexity of organisations. You need to build a deep understanding of yourself, your motivations, strengths, values and goals, to become the most awesome creative you can be.

Roberta Ronsivalle-Pearce

Be curious, be open, be humble, be intentional, be present. That’s the most important thing. Know where you’re going and have a vision for yourself.

Roberta Ronsivalle-Pearce
Leadership and Team Coach

This is about understanding how you work at your best, how you deal with challenges and what’s important to you about your career. It’s about understanding your motivations and getting clarity on where it is you want to get to professionally. If this is new to you, it might feel self-indulgent or a tad introspective, but exploring these areas to understand which of your habits and behaviours are supporting you on your journey and which are perhaps getting in the way, can be a powerful tool on your road to success.

This is about taking time to reflect. Every week. Every day. Stopping and looking back, to move forward with purpose and clarity. Mentors can help, or you might want to find yourself a coach who’s specifically trained in helping people navigate these areas to achieve their potential.

The Whole Creative

So that’s the secret sauce. Being a professional creative is more than technical ability and natural talent. At Created we call these three elements the Whole Creative, and it’s formed the basis of our learning philosophy. Our courses help you develop each one in equal measure, because it’s what the creative industry is demanding.

So make sure you’re developing your whole creative self: personally, professionally, practically. Because if you don’t, there’ll be others around you who will!

Laurence Honderick

Opportunities for progression, achievement, self-development are hidden absolutely everywhere, and if you can’t find them in work, then find them some place else. Or quit! If you’re not progressing, I’m sorry to say it, but it’s your fault.

Laurence Honderick
Head of Design, BBC Creative

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