Oh great, I’m a ‘creative’ now

“I need help.”

“With what?”

“A flyer thing I’m making.”

“Yikes. What did you make this in?”

“I was just messing in Word for a couple of minutes.”

“Well that’s why it looks terrible. You can’t do design very well in–“

“Yeah I know, but you need to make it pretty.”

“How so?”

“I don’t know. That’s your thing. You know…do that you thing you do.”

It’s a blessing and a curse to work as a quasi-creative. I get to make new stuff, but I’m also seen as a miracle-worker. I say I’m a quasi-creative because that’s not my official job description. There are other people in my building who are graphic artists, but they’re either too busy or don’t make things as pretty as my bosses like. So, I’m the guy.

Which is cool. I get to break out of the normal routine and make ads, make brochures, make flyers…

But when a person gets labeled as a “creative,” people get weird.

I’ll be introduced to people at work like “This is Joshua, he’s our *blah blah blah* guy. He’s very creative.”

The other person’s eyes will widen a tad. “Ooooh, nice. I’ve got some great ideas I’ll need your help with.”

Another person will say, “Oh wow, I love working with creatives. You make things professional.”

Well it’s not like everybody else is smearing paint on the walls, but I appreciated the intent.

But after a few dozen extra projects from several of these new ‘friends,’ I’ll realize a chunk of my time is being spent pretty-ifying up stuff. So, I’ll try and coach people on how to do the simpler things themselves. They’re usually not having it, though.

“Nope! Nope nope nope! I’m not creative. You have to do it. I’m not good at making things look good. That’s what you creative people do.”

Being a “creative” is kind of like be labeled a “math person”—check that—it’s exactly like being labeled a math person. I hear that all the time, don’t you? “I’m just not a math person.”

There’s no such thing. Scientific study after scientific study after scientific study shows there’s no such thing as a predisposition for or against math. Hell, they’ve even debunked the whole left-brained/right-brained thing.

Math (just like driving or sports or music or art or writing) takes practice. We are all “math people” like it or not. Some of us just don’t want to be (or have the resources to pay people to do that sort of thing). But be that as it may, we are all equally predisposed to comprehend mathematics.

Creativity is like that. It just takes practice. But back to reality, at work I realize who has time to cultivate that sort of thing? I don’t push the issue too much. I can be the go-to “he makes stuff look more good-er-est” dude. That’s cool by me.

But I do have to push back on the time thing. Making something look good takes time. The reason a flyer made in Word looks like crap isn’t so much Word, but is because a whopping four minutes was spent on it. And more fonts aren’t automatically better!

That’s where I have been getting better at establishing some boundaries.

“Oh that’s going to take the better part of the day.”

“What do you mean? You just have to move this thingy over here and change these few other parts.”

“Yes, for the printed version. Now that you want it sent out via email too, I have to code it in our HTML template, scrub the contact list with the changes from the folks downstairs, test it and send. It has to work in various browsers and whatnot.”

“I still don’t think it will take all day. Well, remember there might be some other changes when the others give their input too.”

And there are changes. And it takes more time. But that’s fine. They can make all the changes they want. I’ll just edit and save, edit and save.

And I also have to push back on the ‘creatives are prima donnas’ thing. Google “working with creatives” and you’ll quickly find that many people connote creative personalities with temperamental, egotistical and enigmatic dispositions. Especially managers. ‘Managing creatives’ very quickly involves similar reactions.

‘They’ are hard to work with. Working with ‘them’ is like herding cats.

C’mon, I’m not that bad, am I?

Then again, I do get annoyed when people expect constant good work in seconds. So in that respect I can be difficult to work with, because I will tell you “no.”

But otherwise I’m the bee’s knees. Ask around!


About salemonz

Born in San Diego, Calif. Raised as a Navy Brat, I jumped ship and crossed over to the Army. Served as an enlisted journalist for a bunch of years, then helped the DoD figure out what the hell to do with social media. After the Army, now I drift down the river of life, trying not to be a jerk.

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