What We Learned at SXSW: “How to make failure work for you”

Photo: Flickr (Erik Solheim)

Working in the creative world isn’t always easy. It is hard to keep the creative juices flowing when you are expected to do so for your job everyday of the week.

Even if you are a creative individual it is tough to find ways to keep your brain constantly thinking of new and innovative ideas when it comes to design. “Failure as a Creative Catalyst” was one of the sessions I chose to attend at SXSW 2015.

The session was presented by Adobe and the speaker was a man named Erik Natzke, a principal designer for Adobe. When you think of Adobe, you automatically think of all things creative, their amazing programs offer the best resources for creatives.

Erik began his talk that Friday afternoon and as the typical note-taker and organized individual I am, I  began scribbling away and taking notes immediately. He hit the nail on the head with so many things that we all know we should do as creatives, but don’t always take the initiative to actually do. If you did not get to attend this session at SXSW 2015 – here is a good recap on some of the things I found to hit home the most as a creative.

Photo courtesy Chung Ho Leung
Photo: Chung Ho Leung

9 things creatives should live by

  1. Learn something new
    Learning something new everyday can propel us all to move forward with our goals professionally and as creatives, so we all should make it a goal to learn at least one new thing everyday.
  2. Understand what you don’t know
    Become self-aware of the things you DON’T know and make that your motivator to learn those things – whether it be for your career or personally.
  3. Make learning a habit
    We should all “Make learning an ingredient of our daily lives.”
  4. Love what you do
    “What you have done is what you WILL do, so make sure you enjoy what you do.” If you don’t enjoy something then what’s the point, right?
  5. Work really hard
    If you don’t know how to do something, it’s okay. Not doing something about that is not okay. Our work ethic should be motivated by our failures and those things we don’t know how to do.
  6. Harness your passion
    Convey your creative projects with the passions you are feeling at that moment you are working on them. You want the projects you work on to reflect the things you absolutely love and the passions in your life.
  7. Do what you love!
    “Do what you love and the money will follow.” Sometimes when starting out in the creative world – or any job you are passionate about for that matter – you have to keep in mind that it will probably take time to get to where you want to be financially. If you love what you do then it will  eventually fall into place if you put your passion into it.
  8. Reach beyond your comfort zone.
    “Test your reach, not your grasp.” This means that you shouldn’t ever turn something down just because you aren’t an expert on it – especially if it scary to you. Those are the things that help us grow professionally and as individuals.
  9. It’s OK to fail
    Realize that sometimes the right answers don’t come until all the wrong ones have been exhausted. Just don’t lose sight of the goal in front of you just because you don’t have it all figured out yet.

As creative individuals – whether you are in web design, graphic design, photography, interior design, marketing, advertising, etc – we all have the commonality of realizing that we wanted to be creatives and we chose this career path.

Maybe it was fate, maybe we were born for it, or maybe we just fell into it, but regardless it is where we have ended up.

Erik made the point that after we realized this we also realized that we would have many obstacles to overcome to get to where we want to be in the creative world. Setting goals for yourself professionally and personally as a creative is so important in our daily lives, so take those nine things I learned and apply them to your daily lives if they spoke to you in a way that they spoke to me.

One last thing I would like to share is this short video done by Erik on the “Creative Class.” It is an amazing portrayal visually of the creative class and the syntax is perfection when it comes to describing creatives and how important we actually are in this world. Click here to watch.

I was a first-timer at SXSW Interactive and if you have never attended I will tell you that it is one of the craziest, awesome, overwhelming (in a good way) experiences you will ever have in your life. As a creative – it is a MUST attend event!