Thom Bennett - Website and graphic design

Thom
Bennett

Website & graphic design

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Defend Your Creative Choices

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Circumstance may grace us or befall us, sure, but how we receive the circumstance is up to us.

Everything we do is a choice. Whether we: act or not, play the victim or the martyr, underwhelm or overwhelm, accept or reject, feel or ignore; we choose. Nothing is forced upon us. Circumstance may grace us or befall us, sure, but how we receive the circumstance is up to us. None of us are Buddha or Gandhi and the temptation to give in to the other is always present. “It’s the economy”, “I have to feed my family/pay my employees/keep the lights on”, “I’m just too busy”, “It’s not my fault/my problem”, “We have always done it this way”, “My competitors are all doing it, so I have to”.

Seth Godin wrote a post about the difference between “working long” and “working hard”. Working long is slaving away at the tasks in front of you. Get more done. Move a bigger pile from one side to the other. Stay at it 10, 12, 15 hours a day. Working hard is pushing yourself to perpetually question everything, always in the pursuit of what matters most to you, your art and your creative business. Hard work is moving past the resistance the “other” offers and owning the choices you make. Who are your clients and why? Who are not your clients? Can they tell the difference? And what do you do about it when they cannot?

You may have a style that makes it obvious who your clients are. For instance, if you are the king of chintz, likely is a minimalist will not be interested in your interiors. Not enough. If you cannot defend why you do things the way you do, other than “that’s industry standard” or, my favorite, “that is just what it costs”, why should your right client trust you? What are they really buying? You and your art might be so good a client will overlook your unwillingness to own why you do what you do. More likely, they will tell you that you are too expensive. You will shake your head and blame the: economy, competition, employees, or even the client. Magically, your solution will be to offer a “more accessible” package. You have convinced yourself it is all about money, when it is anything but. Money is not real and, for creative businesses, evaluations based on price are a function of distrust rather than expense. The hard work would be to say I do it this way because and mean it. Choices.

The irony is that if I told a creative business owner to defend her artistic choices, she would do so to her dying breath. Why she chose the color, layout, structure, elements, etc. My guess is that her answer would not be, “Well that is just the way I was taught.” Of course, training is a crucial element of any craft, but it is only to provide the tools to make better art, not define it. Information is supposed to enable growth, not limit it. The amount of information available to creative business owners to help them run their businesses is mind-boggling. You can and should avail yourself to a very healthy dose.

If you do not know the difference between: a capital and operating expense, operational and net profit margin; you do so at your own peril. However, to think that someone else has a better answer for how to run your creative business than you do, is the same as someone telling you they know how to do your art better than you do. Not possible.

So what if you fail? Just as your design might go splat, your business model might too. Whether you choose to do the hard work and really understand the splat so that you can give yourself the chance to make another splat is up to you. Please remember though that giving yourself an excuse to not choose, or to act, on the excuse is still your choice.

Cover image (Business team) and top image (Presentation in the office) from Shutterstock

This is a cross-post from The Business of Being Creative.

Sean Low is the Founder and President of The Business of Being Creative, a consulting firm focused on providing practical advice to those in the business of being creative. Prior to founding The Business of Being Creative, Sean spent six years as the President of Preston Bailey Design, Inc. representing Preston in his business endeavors around the world. Sean has a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his twenty years of business experience ranges from law, investment banking, financial executive to small business owner.

View more at:
http://www.designtaxi.com/article/101752/Defend-Your-Creative-Choices/

Circumstance may grace us or befall us, sure, but how we receive the circumstance is up to us.

Everything we do is a choice. Whether we: act or not, play the victim or the martyr, underwhelm or overwhelm, accept or reject, feel or ignore; we choose. …