(or, "83 things I wish someone had told me while I was learning how to be creative.")
list compiled by sally hogshead, who wrote Pick Me: Breaking Into Advertising and Staying There. the ones i find most applicable are in bold.
83 things I wish someone had told me while I was learning how to be creative.
1) There are no right answers. Including these.
2) Listen to other people’s opinions about your work, but ultimately do what you want.
3) The hipster creative with tattoos and piercings rarely does the coolest ads.
4) Simple, brilliant ideas kick ass over execution.
5) Dominos delivers to Starbucks.
6) Everyone you want to work with knows everyone you currently work with by one degree of separation.
7) It can take a while to find your voice and get into a groove. Your portfolio will change dramatically once you do.
8) Your work can have outrageous attitude. You can’t.
9) Smart beats clever.
10) You will create a better portfolio by breaking the rules than by following them.
11) Don’t force-fit a certain kind of piece in your book just because you’re “supposed” to have it. This goes for long copy, car ads, packaged goods, and so on.
12) Revolutionary ideas always feel uncomfortable at first.
13) There will be days when you’ll feel like a complete hack. That does not mean you’re a hack.
14) Spend more time thinking, less time executing.
15) Try not to spend a lot of time and money on finessing pieces until you know you’ll keep them in your book.
16) Avoid trends. They date you.
17) Make it more audacious.
18) Don’t choose your typeface by just scrolling down the font menu.
19) Mount each small space ad separately instead of lumping them together.
20) Emailing someone is more likely to get a response than writing a letter. However if you had a meeting with someone, send a handwritten note.
21) Make sure your name, phone number, and email address are very clearly attached to anything you send to a company.
22) Don’t write like a copywriter.
23) Start art directing with a pad of paper, not a computer.
24) Trying to create an entire portfolio in only a few months is like trying to go to med school in one year. It take a long time to learn, create, and craft. If you shortchange the process you shortchange the result.
25) The difference between an A- book and an A+ book is all the difference in the world.
26) Avoid ads for tourism, public service, or tiny stores that no one’s ever heard of.
27) Write short cover letters and a simple resume.
28) The more concepts you come up, the better they get. Me, I write a hundred ads for every one I end up with.
29) Steer clear of fonts that look like fake handwriting.
30) Which agency you work for usually matters less than which accounts and creative director you work for.
31) Anyone can come up with a great idea. The question is, can you do it consistently.
32) It’s better to fail by going down in flames than by settling for mediocrity.
33) Idea is king. Emperor. World nuclear superpower.
34) If you’re a writer and you don’t have spectacular long copy, consider instead writing a few paragraphs about yourself or something you’re into for your book.
35) If you’re in school, remember that classmates are your future co-workers. Treat them accordingly.
36) When working on an assignment, try to expose the deepest, most surprising human truths associated with that product.
37) Learn the rules before you focus on breaking them.
38) Try not to chitchat and explain ads while someone’s looking at your book.
39) Kill any work that’s “fine.”
40) Be nice. Mind your manners. Play fair.
41) It all comes down to the work.
42) When a prospective employer makes all sorts of promises, remember that your salary agreement is the only promise they can’t flake out on.
43) Don’t base your self-image on positive feedback, because you can’t count on that.
44) You can’t out-think everyone, but you can out-work them.
45) By the time an ad is published in an award show book, it’s already a couple of years old.
46) Feed your brain with inspiration from the average as well as the bizarre.
47) Trust your gut. It’s smarter than you are.
48) Write simple cover letters.
49) Find the kind of music that helps you concept, because if you listen to it with headphones it can help you focus.
50) Not everyone comes up with great ideas in the shower, or a diner, or in their sleep, or on their way to work.
51) If you’re a girl, don’t be all girlie-girl in your book.
52) Don’t limit yourself to a city or part of the country. Go wherever the best job is at the start of your career (yes, even Minneapolis).
53) Never show half-assed work. Better to present nothing at all.
54) Competitive is okay. Cut-throat is not.
55) Don’t waste time or money on ideas you’re not thrilled about.
56) Experiment. Fail. Experiment again.
57) Get lots of feedback, but ultimately, trust yourself.
58) No matter how good it is, somebody won’t like it.
59) Make your book an easier and smoother to look at by putting TV and radio scripts in a separate section, rather than in between ads.
60) Your taste will change. Several times.
61) Let your work show how creative you are, not your resume or answering machine message.
62) Be as respectful to the receptionist as the president.
63) If you’re happy in your job, it’s easier to be happy with the rest of your life.
64) A piece is not finished just because it’s printed out and in your portfolio.
65) Don’t show work to a potential employer until you’re totally confident it’s your best.
66) Don’t present bad ads, and you won’t do bad ads.
67) You do not have to be an asshole, or work for one, in order to do great work.
68) Buy a cheap portfolio case. All an employer cares about is what’s inside.
69) If you hear the same feedback over and over, make the changes to the work.
70) It’s better to have 8 killer pieces than 30 pretty good ones.
71) After someone gets done looking at your book, they should feel like they know you.
72) You could be unemployed for six months, then get three phenomenal offers in a day.
73) Sometimes, the best portfolios are the slowest to get a job.
74) Don’t work for someone whose taste you don’t respect.
75) Be certain that your final collection of work represents the type of work you want to do, because it will determine where you’re hired.
76) Never go for the money. At least, not yet.
77) You will learn more in your first job than you did in school.
78) Don’t get cocky, even if you get good.
79) Being creative is only a small part of being a good creative.
80) You will end up where you belong.
81) Putting a portfolio together is a window of opportunity to recreate yourself.
82) When you’re the boss, meet with ten juniors for every person who meets with you now.
83) Pick out a last name that people can make fun of.
and a few of my own:
84. Kill your little darlings. (taught to me by my old boss, V.)
85. Be smart enough to know that being smart isn't enough.
86. Don't just learn how to do something. Learn why you're doing it.
87. Meet your deadlines.
88. Be nice twice. Then, be a bitch.
89. You'll know you're a creative when your business card (that someone else makes for you) has any of the following words on it: designer, creative, principal, artist, writer.
90. Everyone thinks they're a designer except designers. Real designers think they're hacks.
91. Pay your dues. The credibility they give you can't be bought with any other currency.
92. Good design is invisible.