Archive for February, 2011
It’s almost March, but winter has its teeth sunk deep into the Pacific Northwest. True, we’re notoriously weak in the face of chilly weather, but this unseasonable arctic air is creating strange juxtapositions on the street.
Hope you’re having a warm, productive week.
Does typical business wisdom apply to creatives? It’s a question I’ll be considering in the next several posts.
First up: “It’s a dogfight in the middle.”
This gem comes from my good friend Lisa. It’s not the most common phrase heard in classrooms and boardrooms, but it’s ripe for examination.
Most people assume it’s impossible to reach the upper echelons of their industry. We believe a coveted invitation, contract, sale, or opportunity is like a golden envelope slid under the door; you either get it or you don’t. In fact, most people don’t even shoot for the top. They target what feels like an attainable goal and prepare to battle it out with everyone else working in the same space. Hence, the proverbial dogfight.
Think about TV newscasters. The climb-the-ladder, pay-your-dues model means you start at a local cable station. You build your clips, work your way onto the news desk and then aim for an affiliate network. Every night you dream about being plucked from your home in Moose Jaw, Eugene or Sarasota to land in the national spotlight. You’re a small fish longing for bigger waters. If only the right people would recognize your potential…
Creatives are not newscasters. Most avoid fuchsia and hairspray, but that’s beside the point. Aiming high means taking a hard look at what’s happening in the rarefied space you crave. For example, what’s true about the artists exhibiting at your dream gallery? What’s true about the bands playing major festivals — or the designers showing on national runways? Forget about the local DIY market. What would you do and experience if you were working at the very top of your field? How can you set yourself apart from the pack? When you target the outer limits you actually begin to think differently. A technicolor vision takes you beyond the dogfight and unlocks a path that hasn’t been fully trampled.
This (relatively uncommon) business wisdom applies beautifully to creatives. Get out of the middle and go where things are emerging — where there’s space to realize your dreams.
– be specialized and unique
– cross-pollinate and juxtapose your work in unusual ways
– look beyond the crowd and target the top