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What Does It Mean to Be Creative?

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UPDATED: February 26th, 2021 (Originally written August 2017)

I’ve had the pleasure over the years to work with some extraordinarily talented people. Super creative, crazy smart, and really great people. The industry is loaded with talent and at Webfor, we’ve been looking for ways to redefine what it means to be “creative”.

It’s simple right? Creative people do creative things! … and what the hell is that actually?

In the digital space, we often tie “creativity” directly with pretty pictures, graphics, and color. Being a “creative” sounds snobby and in truth, its meaning has been stretched beyond recognition. So much so that anyone with an iPad has suddenly become an artist. That’s okay! I’m not here to judge and in many ways, each one of us is an artist, creative, and entrepreneur. We just don’t know it yet.

Creatives are designers, right? Wrong.

What does it actually mean to be creative? According to Google, being “creative” is…

Relating to or involving the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.

So let’s break that down a little further, “involving imagination or … ideas.” Well, I’ve had those and so have you. Think back to when you were a kid running around with nerf guns, Barbie dolls, or hot wheels. You created your own world with toys using your imagination. We’re all imaginative at heart and as we get older that might fade, but that creativity is still in you somewhere.

Let’s continue by dissecting, “especially…artistic work.” So, that gets more specific, but then one could argue the definition of “artistic”, which is…

Having or revealing natural creative skill.

….well, this is interesting…

Is there an echo in here?

Okay, so if being creative means having an imagination and being artistic means having the creative skill, I guess it comes down to understanding that we are all creative. While you hover over creative friends pawning after their creative abilities, you must realize that each person is intrinsically creative. It’s practically a characteristic of being a human.

You don’t need to be Michaelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel to be “creative”. You might be a master of spreadsheets and to get there you need mathematical, programming, and other skills to bring it together. You’re creating. We’re all creating. We’re innovating and growing.

We’re creative.

At this point, you’re probably wondering where all this is going…I’m kinda wondering the same thing too … 🙂

Quick side step; ignore the haters and judgment.

If you’re a digital/physical designer of any kind then you’re well aware of the bias we face each day. First and foremost, stop comparing yourself to others. This is the quickest way to lose focus and motivation on your own work. You’re not BossLogic. You’re not Zack Snyder. You’re, you! Bring your style to life.

Grow, learn and adapt but never lose focus by trying to be someone you aren’t. Instead, empower yourself through the understanding that there is only one of “you” in this world. You are unique. Your talents are unique. Your creative mind is one of a kind.

Okay … side step objective, complete! Time to tie some stuff together!

You are surrounded by creative people!

If you work for an agency, or anywhere really, then chances are that you have a group of creative professionals around you. For Webfor that means designers, developers, client managers, content writers, and other specialists. The sooner you understand who those people are the sooner you can work towards incorporating their specific creative skills into the workplace, task, or project.

It’s not always possible, but you’re likely to get some of the best work you’ve ever seen when you include more people with alternate or opposing views.

If you get to a point where your team works autonomously and can incorporate their creative thinking into day-to-day activities, then you’ll be on a path of bringing out each person’s “best work.”

We love the “best work” because clients need it.

Creative content, by our definition, is a hard sell for clients. It’s likely a much longer format with repurposed elements in the form of presentations, graphics, and documents. This means, everything takes a lot more time to produce. The idea, however, is to deliver consistently at this level and draw more users into a website. One really great creative piece can do the work of 100 higher-churn pieces produced over 5 years.

Thinking strategically and creatively elevates your game. This is why I wish more agencies would operate and think at this level. Work to the strengths of your people and in return, you’ll get the creativity, results, and team engagement that you’re looking for.

Want more about this topic? Check out my recent podcast episode below.

As always, thank you for reading and I’ll see you again next time!

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