In the Creative field there is no such thing as Failure.
An art teacher once told me she had never used an eraser before.
Obviously I didn’t believe her. Who could? She’s teaching Art to a gathering of eight year olds who think the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were named after pasta variations.
She said no mark made in the hands of an artist is a mistake. It all works together to produce something no other artist could create.
There’s a discussion to be had here about the differences in Art versus Advertising, but for now we’ll work from the beautifully curated opening paragraph into our lesson for the day.
First of all - No creative endeavor is an easy one.
There is simple and there is complex.
Sometimes you’re thrown a curveball by what you thought was simple but turns out being the most complex simple complexity you’ve ever simplified into a complex before. Simply put - creativity isn’t following in the footsteps of a professional and it isn’t hiring that professional to recreate what they’ve already done.
Creativity is collecting a set of tools and aesthetics together into one room and being brave enough to make something out of them.
Creativity is acting on your impulses.
Creativity is telling someone you dislike their work without offending them.
Creativity is offending someone without losing them.
Be prepared to come out with something other than what you went in for.
Monet is known to have destroyed at least 30 different works of art because of a particular mood he was in the moment they were created. He even destroyed major pieces before they were set to display in Paris of 1908.
Don’t be like Monet.
Know that what you’re looking to accomplish is entirely a matter of perspective and circumstance.
Be like Monet.
Know that it doesn’t matter if something’s destroyed or not - even scraps can be art.
If, when you get to set to create, you’re missing four specific items then those four specific items may very well be the worst four items you could photograph (positive thinking).
If when you get to set you realize that your vision contradicts that of your hired photographer – argue about it. There’s nothing more interesting than two minds from opposite directions working to find each other on the same path.
What’s done is done – don’t waste time with regret.
When a project fails to deliver there are one of two things to expect – a reprimanding from your superior, and a truckload of I told you so’s.
This is normal; and if you’re old enough to be working in this industry you’ve no doubt had plenty of time to turn that silky creamy skin into a brittle hide of Whatever bounces off me sticks to you.
In a matter of moments your failure should become a discussion of what went wrong and how do we fix it?
Your product is no longer an outcome of your hard work and direction; it is now a proposal for your next endeavor. Time wasted has now become time invested. You must look at your product as a moment in time with which you are already far beyond.
The past is past. Go watch Lion King and learn a thing or two about transcendence.
Failed Photo-shoot? Don’t you mean Test Photo-shoot?
If you’re having trouble with a client, they should never learn of your mistakes. Or rather, they should never be given the opportunity to address them as such.
Most clients have no idea what the creative process looks like, let alone the hurdles we all face inside of it. Therefore their idea of the creative process is only generated from their past work with other agencies, and how you currently choose to present it to them.
You need to always be marketing your efforts in a positive light.
This failed shoot is now your first Test Shoot in which you’ve auditioned all of your creative directions - an effort you or your company took to better understand your client’s needs.
You need to be reminding clients that the creative process is a difficult one and there are an infinite number of lessons to be learned from every aspect of your work.
If they’re paying you on retainer – there’s nothing to worry about.
If they’re paying you per project – you may have an issue and need to be scrambling about how to fix it for half the price.
Budget for both the Failure and the Re-do
Let’s say you spend $3000 on a project that’s now being considered a failure.
Cash is relative. This could be a large number or a small one depending on client relations. What it should definitely not be is a stand-alone number.
No one wants to hear how about much it cost to get something wrong. They want to know how much it took to get it right, and they want to know it at the end of the day.
If you spend $3000 on the failed project and $4000 on the successful one – then you need to be telling your superiors it cost $7000 to do this the right way.
Encompass your mistakes into one project and market them with pride.
Be Confident in every single move you make.
As I said before, every mark in the hands of an artist is intentional. Yes, I worded that a little differently earlier; in my introduction it had been a quote from someone else and now it is a quote from me.
I should’ve started this way, but it wasn’t until I started writing this blog that I had realized what works and what doesn’t.
I’ve unintentionally buried a lesson within the context of this article – and that could never have been accomplished if I spent too much time revising and editing my own mistakes.
Yeah, I’m proud of my mistakes. We all should be. How else would we know what’s right?