How to Enter a Creative Career Path

How to Navigate Your Career
September 13, 2016
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How to Enter a Creative Career Path

Photo by Joshua Earle (

Understand Your Creativity

“But I can’t draw! I’m not creative! I’m no designer … I wish I could be.”

Typically, that’s the first response I hear from those who are interested in creative careers. However, being unable to draw with confidence doesn’t mean that in your heart you’re not a designer or that you can’t think like one. In fact, most of today’s illustrations are not drawn via pencil and paper anymore anyway! Few studios, if any, still use traditional hand-drawing techniques for their finished pieces. The association between drawing and being a great designer is a social flaw – they are not correlated. I’ve met several people who have become great designers and a lot of them had drawing skills that were subpar in relation to their traditional fine artist counterparts. If you’re thinking or considering the pursuit of a creative career, you’ll want to keep this important point in mind:

“Not all artists are designers and not all designers are artists”

In fact, the term “designer” is commonly confused with “artist”. But regardless, we all have a place in one of the two categories (maybe even both) if we’re pursuing a creative career & life.

Artists consider themselves creative by nature (and most of the time they are confident enough to pick up a pencil and draw even if it’s not deemed “good” or “pretty” – and I use those terms loosely as they are subjective). They love working with color, layouts, imagery, and compositions to evoke emotion and thought. They’re intention is to get their audience to think about ideas, topics, and possibilities. If this doesn’t sound like you, then…maybe you’re a designer.

Designers don’t just focus on emotions and thoughts like artists. When a designer creates something, it’s with the intention to get the viewer to do something – specifically, take an action. For example, Business Analysts (and some Project Managers) are designers. Surprised? You should be. Only in recent years (at the written time of this article, 2016) has the business world begun to recognize their design skills. Business Analysts create strategies and plans (where their visuals would be their Gantt Charts) where the purpose is to have their team members do something. They have to convincingly showcase purpose, direction, and intention to motivate others to do something. More and more positions for Business Analysts are now being called Business Designers, and this trend will most likely continue to grow well into the future.

To become a truly creative person and understand your own creativity, it’s important to know which of the creative paths you plan to walk – is it as an artist? or designer?

Once we know that, we must make the conscience decision to leave behind the pretty pictures, colors, and layouts we associate with being creative – leave it in favor of a way of thinking. Namely, design thinking.

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