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Craft Your Creativity: A Coming of Age Story

01-19-15 Marshall Norman

The path of the young designer is destructive, fun, and unavoidable. Marshall shares lessons learned that have turned his raw passion into fruitful creativity.

When starting my journey as a designer, I tended to take the problem that I was facing and just plow straight forward until I came to some solution. In my mind, blocks and walls stood no chance. I had the energy, skill, and tools to blast through until I found the answer. Luckily I learned quickly—not only is this exhausting, but the thing about running headlong through the reeds and walls is by the end, your vision might be a little blurry, you may have suffered a few too many concussions, and the end product might not be as clear as it should.

Craft Your Creativity

The path of the young designer is destructive, fun, and (I believe) unavoidable. We get into this field because we have the drive to create. Creation takes energy. Energy takes passion. Passion takes energy. The cycle is fun and exciting. But if you don’t tend the fire, it will turn to coal, and if you don’t stoke the coals, they will get cold.

This passion doesn’t go away. But it can evolve. If treated with care and tended with patience, your passion can grow into something much less destructive, and much more... shall we say... creative?

Lessons I’ve learned

Knowing When to Take a Break

Sometimes the answer you’re pursuing isn’t the right one. Make time during each step of your process to step back and evaluate your problem from a high level, see how the questions have changed, and determine if you’re still on the right path. If I find that I’ve lost focus on what I’m trying to accomplish, I know it’s time to take a break.

Knowing When You’re Done

It’s easy as a creative person to want to keep pushing things further. Learn to recognize when further is far enough. Have you already found your answer? Are you just making problems to solve? If I can answer yes to these questions, I’ve probably reached the finish line.

Knowing When You’ll Never Be Done, Then Deciding to Stop

Projects can come to a point where you’re just burning rubber and not getting anywhere. It’s easy to find someone to blame at this point. But the harder and wiser decision can be to admit you can’t help. Then assist in finding a solution for your client that will work for them.

Knowing When You Don’t Know What You’re Doing (Pretty Much All the Time)

None of us knows everything. Be ready and willing to ask for help. Communicate with whoever you might be working with to make sure you understand what you’re doing. Often when I’ve found myself in this situation and get myself to ask some questions, I find the person I’m doing work for doesn’t know the answer themselves.

This can lead to very interesting and helpful conversations, which can lead to you earning more trust in the relationship, and in the end, bring you to a stronger solution to your problem.

Learning How to Learn

It’s a process that never ends during and between projects. It’s OK to lean on your peers every now and then. Surround yourself with people who love to learn, and learning becomes easy.

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