5 Ways to Level Up Your Creative Game
Alright. Let’s get down to business.
I’m always sharing tips on this Art Directions blog, but I realized that I’ve never stopped and tried to articulate my top tips for creatives.
So, here they are, my top 5 ways to level up your creative game:
1. Break down the imaginary walls and ask someone 1 step ahead of you for advice.
The best way to get somewhere is to ask for directions from someone who has already been there.
This is tough, and you have to be a bit bold.
Find the email address of a few people that are 1 or 2 steps ahead of you and ask if they are willing to give you some feedback on your work and share any tips.
Please please please be polite. Before you send the email put yourself in their shoes. Don’t ask too much, do your homework and don’t waste their time. Don’t send 5 paragraphs.
Some of my biggest design and illustration heroes have given me incredible insights by email, and they truly did tear down that wall between myself and the next stages of my creative journey.
2. Get bold, send 15 love letters.
Being authentically friendly and nice goes a long way.
Make a list of your top 15 blogs, organizations, etc. Make sure they are reachable though, like don’t try to email Nike.
Then send a lovely email to them. A love letter. Don’t ask for anything, just spread the love. Don’t be disingenuous, people can smell that a mile away.
Be sincere, think about it. Who has really impacted you? What artist or company or blog has really struck you?
Just send a love letter, make it short and sweet but be explicit about what you really love about what they do. Only beautiful things come from love letters.
3. Take a leap of faith and make an amazing side project.
Do your homework. Buy a sketchbook. Dig deep. What’s a decent size side project that you could be motivated to go to town on?
Make sure it’s something you’re really excited about.
Make sure it has value to other people.
Make sure it’s easy to share and talk about.
Think of something that highlights a skill or strength that you would like to be know for.
Think of what you would like to come from this project.
As an example, the purpose of my NOD project (where I did a different character every weekday for a year) was to help me work on my stories and characters and lead to children’s books and character design.
4. Get on the long dirty road of finding your vision.
This one is the toughest. Finding your vision, purpose or direction doesn’t happen overnight. The truth is you might never clarify it completely. However, the journey of narrowing down what it is you want to do is essential.
You have to subtract to become a master as something.
The whittling away to your focus can be tough, and don’t rush it. The important thing is to start thinking, what do I want to make? Where do I want to go?
One of the best questions to ask first though, is this: what am I positive I don’t want to do?
5. Face the facts, it’s a bigger mountain than you could ever imagine.
Think about what you think it takes to ‘make it’ and double it. That’s probably closer to the truth.
The salary you need to make, the workload, they dedication, the sacrifice. Being successful in any way as a creative is not easy. it is going against the grain.
Prepare to raise the bar on what you think it’s going to take. Then shoot higher.
These tips have made an insane impact on my creative journey and I hope they do the same for you!
Illustration and article by the creator of Art Directions, Andy J. Miller.