Marketing is an inherently creative industry. No matter what role you take in this field, it’s a guarantee that you’ll have to get innovative from time to time. For the creatives in marketing, it’s a full-time job.
At Walk West, every member of the team uses creativity every day to execute projects and achieve our clients’ goals. But it’s our team of creatives — our art directors, copywriters, and designers — who use their creative chops to design the visuals that power our campaigns, or write the content that gets people to click.
For the new creative who’s not sure how to find a job doing what they love, creating things, we highly recommend you explore the world of marketing. And if you’re a new creative just starting out in marketing, we have some advice for you.
Be a Sponge
As with any new role, when you start a new creative job you should be a sponge. There are a lot of merits in looking around (more on that later) and watching how ideation happens among your colleagues. Every company is different in its workflows, processes, and teams, so the best thing to do when you start is to soak it all up.
Part of being a sponge is asking a lot of questions. See if you can shadow your colleagues as they brainstorm and execute new projects. Ask to sit in on collaboration sessions to get a feel for how things are done.
You might have heard that “there are no stupid questions,” that actually isn’t true. You probably will ask a few stupid questions, and that’s okay. Stupid questions help you learn. And learning how to ask better questions is key to becoming a better creative and marketer.
Learn how other people harness their creative ideas to fuel projects. There are so many people around you who have seen and experienced so many different things in the marketing industry: they are your most powerful resource.
Know How to Borrow Creatively
When it comes to creative marketing, everything has been done before. The chances of creating something brand new and revolutionary for your first project or role are unlikely.
As with most things, please take this piece of advice with a grain of salt: It’s OK to creatively copy other people. Emphasis on creatively. Don’t steal other peoples’ ideas, but it’s more than OK to be inspired by other peoples’ ideas. In fact, it’s great to be inspired by what other people are doing!
Look to your colleagues to start. How do they solve creative problems? How do they approach new projects or challenges?
It also helps to have a solid foundation and knowledge of creative principles and history. Sometimes, it’s about combining things that have already been done. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but you do have to put your own spin on it. Doing your interpretation of what’s already been done makes it unique and interesting, and may be what your new clients are looking for. Don’t forget; great artists borrow.
Sometimes, You Have to Look Around
Feeling uninspired and unmotivated is a part of the job. What you have to learn is how to generate your own inspiration. The easiest way to start learning is by looking around and looking at specific things. If you’re drawing something you don’t feel like drawing, start writing words to describe what it is. There are a lot of little tricks in this field that you can use to trigger your brain into feeling more creative.
At Walk West, we really like doing research. The great part about research is that it doesn’t have to be boring. Looking at magazines is research. Looking at silly pictures online is research. Scrolling Instagram or Pinterest or Tiktok is research (just be sure to set your in-app time limits).
If you’re feeling creatively drained, get up and do something that’s not creative to help recharge. Clean your home. Organize your sock drawer. Take a walk around the block. Set aside time to breathe and recharge your creative batteries.
Not sure what to look at when you’re feeling uninspired? We have some recommendations:
Mark Whitney, Senior Copywriter
Sean Burgess, UX/UI Designer
- Brand New – Paid subscription, but worth the $2/month or $20/year
- It’s Nice That – Creative blog
- Graphic Design Thinking by Ellen Lupton – Pretty much all her books are worth owning for any aspiring designer
How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul by Adrian Shaugnessy – Lots of practical advice for designers that covers a good array of topics.
Kale Simmons, Junior Brand Experience Designer
Stephanie Post, Senior Art Director
Don’t Define Yourself By Your Work
This advice goes for everyone, not just creatives. But for creatives, who are using their passion to create work for profit, getting a lot of negative feedback can really hurt over time. The most important lesson you’ll learn early on in your career is not to take things personally. But even then, you’ll still have hard days.
Sometimes, the best way to combat feelings of inadequacy or creative burnout is to be creative in a different way. Make sure you’re keeping your hobbies as fun, safe places for you to be creative and enjoy yourself! Creativity can look like so many different things, not just writing, drawing, or painting.
Learn to take on creative hobbies that have nothing to do with your work skills! Explore local classes and opportunities like woodworking, oil painting, dancing, scrapbooking, or reading. Hobbies will help you recharge and refuel both your creative and your personal batteries. Use them wisely, they will pay for themselves in the long run.
The Hardest Thing to Do is Start
The easiest and hardest place to start is with a blank piece of paper. As you start your first creative project in a new role, lean on the people around you. You don’t necessarily have to look to your fellow creatives. Lean on the account managers, the project managers, the development team: Your colleagues are there to help you understand the challenge at hand and how to solve it. Marketing is an inherently creative field, which is why the people around you are your best creative asset.
Remember that no idea is a bad idea when you’re in the brainstorming stage. It’s OK to be bad at your job sometimes. There will be times when you fail, and times when you’re frustrated with what you’re doing. We’ve all been there.
The difference between a good creative and a great one is using the bad times to your advantage. When you mess up (and you will mess up) make an effort to learn from your mistakes. As a wise anthropomorphic dog once said: