#The50 things every creative should know (part 1)

#The50 things every creative should know (part 1)

Many years ago I thought I knew everything.

To absolutely no one’s surprise it turns out I didn’t, but that didn’t stop me snorting a big fat line of Paul Arden and writing a list of 50 tips for students entering the creative industry.

#The50 was the most popular post I ever published. By squeezing every tip into Twitter’s now defunct 140 character limit (you’ll notice a couple of odd sentence structures here and there), the list quickly went viral. It crashed my site and brought in thousands of Twitter followers ready to be disappointed by my aggressively inactive account.

So with the benefit of hindsight, I thought it would be fun to revisit the list and see if any of the advice still holds water. For clarity’s sake I’ve split the list into two parts (you can read tips 26 to 50 here), so get comfortable and enjoy part one of #The50 things every creative should know.


1. You are not the first

There are very few “firsts” these days. Countless others have started studios, freelanced and requested internships. It can be done. #the50

You are not the first

2. There is always someone better

Regardless of how good you are, there will always be someone better. It’s surprisingly easy to waste time worrying about this. #the50

There is always someone better

3. Success is not a finite resource

College fosters a zero-sum mentality — that someone has to fail for you to succeed. In truth, another’s success doesn’t limit yours. #the50

Success is not a finite resource

4. You cannot score without a goal

If you don’t know what you want, then how can you pursue it? Having a goal defines an end point, and subsequently a place to start. #the50

You cannot score without a goal

5. Starting anything requires energy

It takes more energy to start than it does to stop. This is true for physics, your career and that idea you need to work on. #the50

Starting anything requires energy

6. The path to work is easier than you think

To get into the industry you need just three things: great work, energy and a nice personality. Many forget the last attribute. #the50

The path to work is easier than you think

7. Have a positive self-image

Your self-perception is your most important asset. See yourself as the person you want to be and others will see this too. #the50

Have a positive self-image

8. Create a clean and simple website

An online portfolio is the alpha and omega of your career. With a wealth of web services, there’s no excuse for not having a website. #the50

Create a clean and simple website

9. Curate your work

Never stop editing your portfolio. Three strong pieces are better than ten weak ones — nobody looks for quantity, just quality. #the50

Curate your work

10. Listen to your instincts

If your work doesn’t excite you, then it won’t excite anyone else. It’s hard to fake passion for mediocre work — scrap it. #the50

Listen to your instincts

11. Make your work easy to see

People are lazy. If you want them to look at your work, make it easy. Most of the time employers simply want to see a JPG or PDF. #the50

Make your work easy to see

12. Hand-write addresses

Clients, prospective employers and potential clients gravitate to letters with handwritten addresses. The personal touch goes far. #the50

Hand-write addresses

13. Time is precious — get to the point

Avoid profuse humour or gimmicks when contacting studios for work, they’ve seen it all before. Get to the point, they’ll be thankful. #the50

Time is precious — get to the point

14. Never take an unpaid internship

This is not a necessary evil — a studio that doesn’t pay their interns (at least the minimum wage) is not a studio worth working for. #the50

Never take an unpaid internship

15. Do as many internships as you can stand

Internships are a financial burden, but they are vital. They let you scope out the industry and find the roles that suit you best. #the50

Do as many internships as you can stand

16. Don’t waste your internship

A studio’s work can dip, as can its energy. Ignore this and be indispensable, the onus is on you to find something that needs doing. #the50

Don’t waste your internship

17. Make friends with a printer

A good relationship with a printer is invaluable — they will help you save money and the environment. #the50

Make friends with a printer

18. Find your local DIY store and pound shop

DIY and pound shops are great resources of cheap, ready-made artefacts ripe for tinkering, redecoration and recontextualisation. #the50

Find your local DIY store and pound shop

19. Be patient

It’s not unusual to complete several internships and not find “a good fit”. Try applying to a studio you hadn’t considered. #the50

Be patient

20. Ask questions

Assume nothing. Ask questions, even if you think you know the answers. You’ll be surprised at how little you know. #the50

Ask questions

21. Ask for opportunities

It will feel cheeky, but ask for things. Ask to be included in exhibitions, magazines, pitches… If you don’t ask, you don’t get. #the50

Ask for opportunities

22. Seek criticism, not praise

You learn nothing by being told how great you are. Even if you think your work’s perfect — seek criticism, you can always ignore it. #the50

Seek criticism, not praise

23. Make friends, not enemies

The creative industry is a small world — it’s a network where everyone knows everyone else. Remember this before pissing someone off. #the50

Make friends, not enemies

24. News travels fast

A great intern will find their reputation precedes them. Jobs are nearly always offered on this word-of-mouth evidence. #the50

News travels fast

25. Don’t get drunk at professional events

There’s a difference between being merry and paralytic. The latter will cost you your dignity, your reputation, and possibly your job. #the50

Don’t get drunk at professional events

Next: #The50 things every creative should know (part 2)

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