How to stay inspired when what you really want is to take a nap

Blocked.

We’ve all been there. The point where we’re staring at a blank page and nothing comes to mind. Whether it’s burnout, lost mojo or someone put a hex on your skills; deadlines often don’t allow us the luxury of time to wait for inspiration to strike.

Fortunately, like most blocks, with a bit of work they’re possible to break through. I don’t have all the answers, but here a few tips I use to reignite my inspiration.

1. Work Through It

One of my favorite quotes is by the brilliant artist Pablo Picasso, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” Admittedly, most times I find myself in a creative block, I procrastinate. I push whatever I’m working on, personal or professional, out of mind until I can spread the lie that ~I work best under pressure~. Then it transforms itself into general laziness.

The first thing that lands on the page may not be right, nor may the second. But getting something down is only the first step.

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2. Take a Break

Conversely, sometimes we’re to close to a project that we can’t see the big picture being too focused on the minute details. Take a walk, blasts some music, have some lunch. Take an hour and just unfocus for a bit. Your project will still be present in the back of your mind and ready for any creative spark.

Fun fact, 80% of great ideas are birthed in the bathroom. Funner fact, I completely made that statistic up.

3. What’s the Worst That Can Happen?

I, like many other creatives, am a perfectionist (I also attribute my perfectionism to my ‘Yoncé-like Virgoness.) That can create a lot of internal pressure that can halt beginning or finishing a project. One thing I like to do is face that pressure head on and visualize the worst possible scenarios. Usually they aren’t that bad, and never life-threatening or altering. So forget perfection for a moment and go back to number 1.

4. Prioritize

Feeling overwhelmed can create a busy mind and cause a lack of focus. Being creative is hard and requires a good amount of attention. If you have to attend meetings, organize your emails or made too many commitments – find a way to block off times to work. Sometimes that means talking to your boss or project manager and sometimes that means no multitasking (catching up on Netflix while working is not focus.)

Hopefully, these help you next time you head dive into your desk. They have definitely saved me from a few creative meltdowns. What are some ways you help breakthrough creative blocks?

What Makes a Good Partner and How to Find One

A few days ago marked mine and my partner’s anniversary.  I don’t know if she remembers…or if we should exchange gifts.

Not Every art director and copywriter  becomes “official.” From what I’ve observed ride or die creative teams are becoming less common. While I’ve worked with my share of art directors and copywriters, I always come back to old faithful.
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My partner and I met in the basement of a bar – I promise it was at a networking event. We were both looking to get into the industry, she had just graduated from portfolio school, I on the other hand was bagging groceries at Whole Foods. We chatted for a bit, exchanged information and sent really awkward emails.
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Fast forward a couple of weeks later and the next time we see each other is in the lobby of our internship.

Finding a partner won’t always be this easy. In fact, before my current partner I’d been taking out Craigslist ads and sending Twitter S.O.S’ searching high and low for someone to create spec work with. I was lucky to bump into Ariel.

Having a creative partner is very much like dating. You’ll learn each others weird, creepy habits. You’ll develop a comfort level where you’re able to share your off-the-wall ideas and not care if they think you’re batshit crazy. You will challenge them and they’ll tell you when your idea sucks. They’re there to help you defend ideas and have silent conversations with in status meetings. And they’re there to support your cool, non-work-related projects.

Personally, having a creative partner is lit.

The best advice I can give on finding a creative partner is networking and looking within your circle. Look at people you  work with, even if it isn’t in your desired field.  At Whole Foods I worked with so many artists, writers, designers and even passed my business card along to a few customers. I just so happen to meet my partner through an organization where we were both members. Consider joining a group or club (AAF has tons of local chapters) where you can meet interesting people if your network is small.

You’ve connected someone who wants to create some awesome stuff, how do you know it’s a good match? Again, like dating, you have to get to know each other.  Even if it’s a friend you want to work with,  you may have dissimilar work ethics and professional goals. Having different life philosophies and outlooks are fine, and even encouraged, as they’ll challenge you creatively; but a good creative partner will want to achieve the same goals.

Alright, you’ve found your creative soul mate the only thing left to do is get to work!

P.S. the best thing about creative partners vs IRL partners,  open relationships aren’t taboo. So feel free to switch around and mix it up.

Portfolio 101

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Your book. Your portfolio. Your website. Whatever you want to call it – it needs to display your work. As a creative it’s pretty important to build a portfolio and fill it awesome ads.

Why do I need a portfolio?

A portfolio is a tool that perspective employers and partners are going to judge if they want to work with you. If you have some cool work, you’ll work with some cool people.

 What does a portfolio look like?

Here’s the short answer: whatever you want.

Portfolios come in many shapes, sizes and designs, but just make sure it’s easy to use.  Creative Directors and Talent Recruiters want to see that you’re able to develop ideas as well as your personality. Those will be the main focus of your portfolio.

Presentation matters, but great work is everything.

 How do I put together my portfolio?

The easiest and probably most cost efficient is the digital route. You’ll get to pass your work around to many people you like  with only one main cost (if you choose to purchase your domain, which I highly recommend). Popular websites to host portfolios on are Prosite, Cargo Collective and Squarespace.

Many recruiters and CDs also like PDFs of your book, so make sure you have an updated copy of that hanging around. PDFs also make it easier to load your portfolio on iPads and tablets.

If you want to go the fancy route, you can go with traditional or hand-bound portfolios. It’s always a nice surprise when you can view something tangible and interact with an actual book. Behance is a good site to pull inspiration for fancy-shmancy portfolio ideas.

What do I put in my portfolio?

If you’re just beginning, your book will mostly have spec work.When you’re beginning it doesn’t matter it doesn’t matter if the work has been produced – trust me a lot of awful work has been produced. What people want to see is that you can take great ideas and turn them into beautiful ads.

While industry pros will give different answers on how many campaigns to put in a book, you want to make sure all the work you present is your best work. It’s better to have three amazing campaigns, than a book full of mediocre ones. Quality over quantity, people.

Who sees my portfolio?

Talent recruiters, human resources, creative directors, your peers, and your competition. When beginning, I got as many people to see my book because feedback is a great way to improve and see how others perceive your message.

 

Now, young grasshopper, you know the basics. We’ll be going more in-depth about building a portfolio. If you have any burning portfolio questions, leave them below.

A creative pick-me-up

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When was the last time you had good coffee? Not the regular joe you drink every morning, but a really good knock-your-socks-off-WOAH-that’s-good coffee?

In a world of mochachocolottacrappuccino, we’re over the watered down and sugar-coated dark roast. We are not the decadent deceiver heralded by the masses. We are strong, raw, fresh and Black. A bit unrefined, but always motivated. We here for the ideas that keep you up at night. For the energy boost in that midday meeting. For the sit-down with that senior you really admire. We are here and rich in talent.

So tell me are you in the mood for Black Coffee?

 

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