“Cut yourself some slack” aka 10 things all beginners should know.
The road from beginner to professional creative is a rocky one. We can’t be there to hold your hand and guide you through the learning process, but we can give you this list of 10 things all beginners should know.
1- See your failures as a learning curve
It’s ok, we all make mistakes when we’re just starting out. It makes us feel like idiots but, making mistakes is the best way to learn, so cut yourself some slack! If you never make mistakes, you’ll never move forward. Then, the next time you make something, it will be a little better. Contrary to popular myth, Newton did not come up with the theory of gravity the instant the apple struck his head. It takes a lot of mistakes to create something great.
2 – Don’t compare yourself to others
We all have people in the industry that we aspire to be. It can be really tempting to compare yourself to them, but this is the fastest way to get discouraged and unhappy. Those people have already been through this process: they made mistakes, failed and got back up again and now they’re pros. If you’re just starting out, your work is never going to be as good as your peers. It takes years of hard work and practice. But, you will get there, it just won’t be by tomorrow.
3 – Do more with less
Ever hear the phrase ‘all the gear but no idea’? Loads of shiny new equipment will not make you a pro overnight. Instead, start out by learning one or two tools really well, then start branching out.
4 – Don’t assume you can do everything right off the bat
Even if the finished product looks simple, it probably wasn’t simple to make. You won’t be able to create great works of art straight away and telling yourself you can just sets you up for a fall. Don’t put that much pressure on yourself. It takes time to learn great skills.
5 – Learn to say no
When you’re working with other creatives, clients, or industry professionals for the first time it can be intimidating. It’s really important to learn to say no. You might feel under pressure to say yes to all their requests or even take on work that you can’t finish before the deadline. Bear in mind that some clients will try and get you to do as much as possible for less money, so be wary and stand your ground. Know your limits and don’t take on more work than you can handle – you’ll just end up doing a poor job.
6 – Copying is not stealing
Spoiler: Everyone copies. All good artforms borrow and copy ideas from other artists. Good artists take an existing idea and make it their own. Borrowing or copying part of an idea from another artist and changing it for your own work is not stealing, in fact that’s how the best art is made. Stealing is when you copy the entirety of another person’s work like for like, and that’s not cool. That’s plagiarism.
7 – Be professional
Yes, working in the creative industries is cool. We don’t have to wear a uniform or work in a cubicle, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be professional. Even if you’re working on a project with someone you hate, stay cool, calm and professional. The creative industries have tight-knit networks and you don’t want to be known as the dude who bad-mouths their co-workers. It could be the reason nobody hires you for a project again.
8 – Go back to school – learn your craft
Never stop learning. The creative industries are constantly changing. There’s always new skills, new trends, new fashions so make sure you’re always learning and trying new things. The minute you stop learning new things, you’ll start to stagnate and requests for work will stop coming through the door.
9 – Get feedback
It can be scary, but seek out feedback from your peers. It will change your life. Your first work won’t be perfect, and getting feedback will enable you to identify the areas you need to improve in. Don’t take negative comments to heart, usually people are just trying to help. The first step on this road is admitting that, right now, your work isn’t perfect. But don’t worry, it will be, in time.
10 – Don’t be afraid of failure
Everyone fails sometimes. Nobody is a genius without trying and failing a little bit. If something doesn’t work out, it can be tempting to take the easy option and quit. But, if you do this, you’ll never get off the ground. Failure will happen, you just need to learn how to accept it, learn from it and move on when it does.
11 – Have fun!
Here’s an extra bonus tip. So far we’ve talked about how you’re going to make loads of mistakes, fail and how it’s going to take ages for you to be good at your craft. But don’t get down, you’ll be having loads of fun along the way too. Remember it’s a privilege to be working in the creative industries – your passion is your day job. As long as you enjoy yourself, mistakes, learning and even failure won’t seem like so much of a big deal.