Can Anyone Be A Creative?

Back in college, my pre-law and pre-med roomies would often see me watching TV or reading magazines or heading to movies as part of homework assignments, often followed by “this is your homework?! Anybody can do that.” Honestly I think they were just jealous my homework didn’t seem as much like a chore. Since my college days, my friends and family think all I do is read magazines and watch TV. More fun than “real work.” Granted, we’re not saving any lives in agencies, but advertising is hard.

Being creative on demand is hard.

Advertising is exciting. It’s alluring. It’s glitzy and glamorous. But some days…


If you’re from the train of thought that you want to get into advertising because it’s fun, it’s easy, it’s not “real work,” sorry to be the bearer of bad news. You’re probably not cut out to be a creative.

But if you’re ready to hone your skills, work hard and have a smidgen of talent, you might have the chops.

Our job is to create work that not only moves people, but moves product. And sometimes you struggle to do both.

Sometimes you get the brief and you can’t connect the dots.

Sometimes you come up with your best idea and your CD says “push this one further.”

Being creative is hard.

And it’s not the creative work at Cannes. It’s not the stuff you see on TV or on billboards. It’s banners. It’s decks. It’s resizing images and revising headlines. And sometimes it’s boring. Then a project lands in your inbox that makes swimming in decks and cancelling your dinner plans with you BFF for the fourth time this week worth it.

And the baby project that feels all worth it will torment you. You’ll think you’re a hack. You’ll log many hours. You’ll think you’re brilliant and the next think you're trash. You’ll lose sleep. You’ll push yourself to your wit's end. This is the adlife we don’t talk about on agency tours and campus visits.

I don’t write this to scare you. This is the industry. And as interns or juniors the glitz and glamour and truckloads of cash comes way down the road. If you’re not an adgeek this might seem like torture. But the first time you see your work live makes it all worth it.

So for the big question — can anybody be a creative? Half the people who read this will be turned off from the industry. The rest of you? Welcome to the club.

Now let’s get back to work.