Something happens in our twenties. When we don’t really have much to lose, we seem more driven to create. We listen to that voice in our heads, the one that seems haunting at times. When we are young, our minds are unconditioned and free. As young creatives, we are hungry. We use our creativity to fuel our vision. We speak in volume and for spectacle. We are carving out a place where our work will live. We are trying to own something and everything we do is proudly stamped with our name.
As our businesses start to gain some ground, we begin to lose the need to prove ourselves to others. Are we still driven with feeling like we have something to say? Maybe at this point, we’ve already said it. Age brings on responsibility. It’s not that we have given up on a dream, but that our monotonous schedules and predictable client work doesn’t give us time to create for ourselves.
Being a creative marketing consultant, I get to talk to a lot of artists. Often, I get the question, “am I getting too old for this business?” My answer is typically, “you can never be too old to be a photographer or illustrator, or film director.” I think this question reveals a problem we develop when we get comfortable in our careers. Though we are creative people, as we get older we tend to get more risk adverse, and less open to new experiences.
Humor me and pull out your portfolio or your website. Do you see a collection of client work, or do you see images that you created because you wanted to say something? Part of being creative is making mistakes. Lose the fear of making mistakes and being the laughing stock of the crowd, and all creative juices will flow like when you were young.
This summer, I have an assignment for you. Instead of letting your daily routine get the best of you, find something outside of the box to get curious about. Find something about your world you can engage with. Don’t worry about how it will fit into your web gallery or what your rep is going to think. Make something because you’re inspired.
Karen D'Silva is one of today's most influential creatives in the commercial photography community. She founded Karen DSilva Creative Services, a trend, marketing and research company designed to help photographers understand the marketplace, find where their images fit, and profile and market to clients who share the same photographic vision. She is also currently a Creative Consultant at Agency Access.
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