Hard-earned Advice for Creative People

Say no by default

Having worked with design for quite a few years now, I’ve learned my share of lessons and picked up a few do’s and don’ts. For your reading pleasure, here they are, neatly compiled into bullet points. Your thoughts on these are most welcome. Oh, and feel free to chime in with your own advice.

  • Design matters much less than you think.
  • People viewing your design will have a radically different understanding of it, than you have.
  • Being creative on demand gets easier the more routine you get.
  • If in doubt, add an outline.
  • Sometimes, we must let go of the things we appreciate the most, in order to do what is expected of us.
  • Learn to save often.
  • For the tedious repetitive things you do, if you can, create tools or processes to do them for you.
  • Say no by default. If someone asks you to lift a finger, your no brainer response should be “No”. Only when you’ve thought long and hard about it, consider saying yes.
  • Stay miles away from people who tell you things like “do this for free and I’ll get you other clients—I know people in the business”.
  • Never do creative work for family members.
  • Forget about perfect. Nothing is perfect. Nothing can be perfect. Also, nobody looks close enough to see it’s not perfect.

7 thoughts on “Hard-earned Advice for Creative People”

  1. Jan Varhol says:

    I have to agree with saying NO advice. I think it is the best of all these. Can I have a question? Why not do creative work for family members? Bad experiences?

  2. Joen says:

    Why not do creative work for family members? Bad experiences?

    I’ve had a few semi-bad experiences, but in this case “family members” means two things:

    1. Friends you cannot afford to lose
    2. People who are not necessarily in the same trade as you

    The issue, in my experience, is that because you’re family, the family member seeking your creative help will have unrealistic expectations with regards to a) price, b) amount of work you’re willing to put into it, c) post-launch support. This can’t lead to anything good.

  3. gareth says:

    good post,

    I would add, always get at least 25% upfront before doing any work.

  4. Joen says:

    I would add, always get at least 25% upfront before doing any work.

    Indeed, that is a good idea.

  5. mo says:

    aww, these are like gold

    been there too! feel you man.

    Design matters much less than you think

    @ AMEN! especially after they wash all your tedious CSS work down the drain and tell you to replace it some fancy flash thingi___because they randomly saw it “on that site”..

    People viewing your design will have a radically different understanding of it, than you have.

    @ so so so true.. they usually think you put it together like as easy as lego blocks.

    If in doubt, add an outline.

    @ very good point!

    Sometimes, we must let go of the things we appreciate the most, in order to do what is expected of us.

    @ Sometimes.. or most times : of course i’m talking about client requests and not personal endeavors (art / self creativity..)

    Learn to save often.

    @ that made me laugh out loud 😀

    Stay miles away from people who tell you things like

  6. mo says:

    always get at least 25% upfront before doing any work.

    @ YES YES YES… or die waiting for the pay check.

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