After creativity: how to be successful in a creative career

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You’ve probably spent years honing your craft, and you’re a talented artist. Yippee! But there’s a lot more to working in a creative job than just being a creative person. Technical ability and quality of work are crucial in order to stand out and make recruiters or potential clients notice you, but what other characteristics should you have in order to be successful? Whether you want to build your own creative business or you want to climb the ladder in an established company, here are a few things that I think might help you get ahead.

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Time management and organisation

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The stereotypical cliché of the artist is a disorganised daydreamer, a person ruled by their emotions, destitute and heartbroken. A romantic notion, but not conducive to a successful career. If you want to make a living from your creative passions, you’ll inevitably have to get on with other people, and an easy way to upset your colleagues is to be late or disorganised. Bit of an obvious one, this, so I apologise if this sounds patronising!

Resilience and thick skin

It’s inevitable that you’ll be sensitive about your work to some extent. If you’re putting time and love into your beautiful creation, you’ll worry about how it’s received by other people, be they friends, family or colleagues. You’ll also be biased, and not at all impartial – almost regardless of the objective quality of the work, you’re going to think your creation is a masterpiece! I’ll be the first to put up my hand and admit I’m certainly very guilty of these things. But in a commercial business environment, your work will be judged by other people, and there’s not much time or space for hurt feelings or damaged confidence. If you don’t want to be a nervous wreck after six months, you need to learn to deal with criticism.

Determination and motivation

The creative job market is competitive, and 78% of creative graduates end up working in non-creative jobs. Ok, I completely picked that statistic out of thin air. But it wouldn’t surprise me. There are far more people wanting a creative job than there are positions available. If you want to get ahead, be dogged about it. Work hard, never stop developing your portfolio and experience, and keep your eyes open for opportunities everywhere.

Compassion and communication

Working in any job means getting on well with people, be they colleagues or paying clients. You need to be easy to get along with, and fun to work alongside, if you want to operate well in a work environment. Be sensitive to the feelings of your colleagues, be humble in everything you do, and always be learning.

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