Almost everyday I keep wondering the same thing. How the heck I ended up in a work where my job is to design all the visual marketing materials of this company? Of course, I do much more than just design ads and graphics but it is definitely a big part of my work right now. I also do all kinds of content creation, including videos and still photography. Anyway, the point here is that I’ve always thought that I’m not very visual or creative person. Writing has always been easy for me, but drawing, painting, photographing and all these things that require visual skills…well, let’s just say that I’m not that talented when it comes to those things. But yet, here I am. Designing and doing very visual things at work. Sounds pretty crazy, right?
I think I am a living proof that creativity is something you can learn. I probably won’t be the next big artist who paints masterpieces worth $1 million. But I think I’m okay with that. For me it’s enough that I can take Instagram and advertising worth photos, film interesting videos and do some necessary branding. And that’s totally doable even though I’m not naturally creative. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. I need to keep pushing and boosting my creativity all the time. And on this blog post I want to share my best tricks with you guys. Because I want to show and tell that there’s hope even when you’re not natural at something.
Put yourself out there
First thing you need to do is to put yourself out there. Which means you just need to start doing things that feel uncomfortable or hard for you. For me this happened when I got my first job as a reporter. I worked as a reporter in a very small local newspaper and I needed to take all photos by myself, because there was no professional photographer working in that company. That was horrible. When I look at those photos now I feel embarrassed. I really was that bad. But I did what I needed to do and that was necessary. You need to start somewhere.
Putting yourself out there is hard, I know that. When you have zero confidence it’s very hard to take that step. But you must do it if you ever want to improve your skills. And yes, you’ll get some feedback and yes, sometimes it’s just horrible. My photos were sometimes criticized but the feedback was always very constructive. And even though I sometimes felt like a total failure and I wanted to give up the whole photographing thing, I kept going. I took that criticism, owned it and learned from it. And that’s how I started to get better.
Take away: Just start. If you ever want to get better, you need to start putting yourself out there. When it feels hard, remember that this is only your starting point. You may not be good now but you will be. You just have to start from somewhere.
Learn from others
The next big step in my creativity was my internship in other newspaper. There was this one very talented photographer I was honored to work with. I learned an awful lot from just watching him while he was working. He really worked hard for every photo. Once, he even climbed the nearest tree so that he could make that dull group photo more interesting. It was very inspiring to watch him work. And even though I was able to focus on writing during that internship, I learned a lot about photography as well.
I’m not a fan of copycats but it’s not cheating to adopt some tricks from those people that are more skilled than you are. Nowadays when I am taking a photo I always try to think what this photographer would do. That way I can push myself to take better photos.
Another way to learn from others is to ask for help. Every time I work with someone talented or skillful I ask her (or him) if she has any tips she could give to me. I have collected a “cheat sheet” of those tips I’ve received. Most of those tips are very simple but they have really helped me to improve my own skills.
Take away: If you are honored to work with someone very skillful, take a look at his or her working habits and try to adopt some of those habits. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for tips. Most people are actually happy to help you.
Practice, practice and practice
Improving your skills is hard work. The only way to get better is practicing regularly. Especially, when you’re not naturally talented at something it requires hundreds of practicing hours to get better. But it is possible. Try to improve your skills everyday. Attend courses and conferences, read about the topic and of course, practice.
At first it may seem unfair that some people are naturally good at something that you are struggling with. But it’s always good to remember that talent without hard work is worth nothing. It can only get you so far, but practice is what makes the real difference. Mastering something you’re not naturally talented at will improve your working ethics and the more you work for it the better it feels when you finally see the results.
Take away: Keep practicing everyday. Improving your skills is hard work but it will be worth every minute when you finally see the results.