I would like to share an excerpt from the third chapter of my new book THRIVING CREATIVES. If you haven’t yet got yourself a copy, please do by sending me a WhatsApp message or email on email@example.com.
Technical Skills – The Hand of the Matter
Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use – do the work you want to see done.
How good is good enough and how can a creative get even better? Because creative work is initiated by talent, there is a tendency for some creatives to rely solely on the ability to create without focusing on perfecting their skills. In addition to that, I feel that sometimes there is a sense of attachment to a piece of creative work that blocks objectivity and positive criticism from the creative themselves and others. And yet, it is extremely important to keep growing and getting better at one’s craft instead of growing complacent; there is a need for continual and habitual improvement, especially technically.
It has been said that the only thing constant in the world is change. There are new trends, advancements and developments daily. Because of that, a creative entrepreneur shouldn’t sit back and assume that the way he or she did things when entering the market is the way to continue to carrying on business. In addition to general changes, new competition enters the market monthly, weekly and in some cases, daily. Somewhere within your context, someone is waking up to the realisation that they can be a great fashion designer/painter/blogger/videographer etcetera. Of these people, there is a portion of serious ones who are planning and creating strategies to break into the market in a stronger manner and, perhaps, with better resources than you. The only way to avoid being left behind by a mile while things are constantly changing is to make sure you, too, are constantly growing, intentionally.
Some of the avenues of technical growth are: formal and informal courses, books within different fields, events such as workshops, and apprenticeships with more established people in the required field.
Some creatives are fortunate enough to study formal courses pertaining to their craft and, in some cases, studying these courses is essential for you to actually enter the market credibly. However, learning and growth does not stop when one has entered the professional market. You must continue to grow and keep abreast with the changes. The need for intentional technical growth is intensified when one didn’t previously have any formal learning opportunities. It is also equally important when someone ventures into a territory different from what they studied. Many creatives actually get into the market based solely on their talent and passion. Whatever the case is and no matter how one got into the market, I believe that one has to continue to improve technically. A creative has to grab all growth opportunities available to them with both hands.
Some of these opportunities are free and if a person is interested in their technical growth, they will treasure these opportunities when they come around. Generally speaking, people don’t treasure free things as much as those they’ve paid for. However, if you cultivate a grateful heart and learn to appreciate the input others have in your life, you will be able to take the free opportunities with gratitude rather than entitlement.
Dear creative reading this, please don’t be the kind of person who disrespects free things simply because they are free. Usually, free opportunities have been paid for by someone else either through their time or money. Also, do not be the kind who always expects free things only. If someone has decided that their services or products will be paid for, do not try to lower their value by asking for pro bono or free services unless offered by the source themselves.
On that note, also seek out growth opportunities that add value to you for which a payment is required. In other words, invest financially in your growth. Treasure your mind and all the natural resources God has abundantly placed in you by investing in growing your skills in general. In ‘Secrets of a Millionaire Mind’, T. Harv Eker talks about having a growth account. The habit behind this is to set aside money in a particular account that you use for growth. Part of this can be invested in your technical growth in your field.
I got into the fashion industry because I had a passion for fashion and the desire to be engrossed in a field of even more creativity where the limits and boundaries were few. I had a slight advantage because I had studied design as an architect and could therefore think up concepts and ideas for clothes without much difficulty. I had been exposed to the principles of design such as balance and contrast, among others. In spite of this knowledge, the fashion industry was a whole new world. I had no room for complacency. Instead, I hungered and sought for knowledge diligently. I decided that I was going to grow. Therefore, I subjected myself to continuous growth by subscribing to certain fashion magazines like Business of Fashion. I started reading about fashion and fashion designers. I watched fashion TV stations such as Fashion TV and Spice TV. I attended fashion shows and made friends with fashion designers. I started learning the technical language of fashion designers to understand things such as seams, hems, darts, pleats, gathers as well as the names of the technical equipment I needed. I went the extra mile of actually buying the technical equipment or tools needed. I learnt how to sew and cut patterns. I bought fashion books and read them. This wasn’t the end of my learning. I also attended relevant events such as Swahili Fashion Week and Kampala Fashion Week. In 2017, I was selected for a fashion boot camp by Culture and Development East Africa which was a great experience that helped me grow even more, technically, because we were exposed to different skilled facilitators and given a practical project that crowned the boot camp. I continued to grow in my technical skills with intentionality.
Whatever creative venture you are in, make the time to grow your technical skills. The world is watching and, fortunately or not, it is also judging. Because of the few barriers to entry in the creative sector, you can be sure that there are a multitude of people you will be compared to. Because of that, you must grow. However, that does not mean you should be afraid of competition. Your focus should be on learning the required technical skills to help you exhibit the best version of your uniqueness. No matter how many creative ideas you have, you can’t execute them without any technical knowledge.
That’s it for this post, look out for the next one for the next installment of an excerpt. Also, get the book :-).
Lots of love,