Nobody truly “makes it on their own.” Whether it’s as complex as a mentorship or as simple as a passing piece of advice, every professional has had some level of support or guidance on their way up.
Recently I’ve been doing a lot of work with up and comers in various creative industries; specifically, people who are looking to turn their passions and hobbies into a career. There have been events like lectures, presentations, and portfolio reviews; and I’ve taught a number of visual media classes. Throughout these experiences, I’ve caught myself using a term repeatedly.
Now, you might say to yourself – isn’t that the same thing as a creative professional? It’s a common phrase and it sounds very similar. And I’ll give it to you that each title shares similar traits. But there’s one big fundamental difference. You can consider it grammar or sentence structure, but it all comes down to which trait is most valuable.
So, what’s the difference between a creative professional and a professional creative?
In each title, there’s a noun and there’s an adjective. One of these individuals identifies them self as a professional while the other labels them self as a creative. They both share similar qualities, but depending on the title, there’s a different emphasis. It’s the noun that deserves priority as it defines what the person is, and not a characteristic they possess.
EXAMPLE: Gray elephant. By looking at the elephant, you know it’s gray, but that’s not what jumps out at you. The first thing you see is “Elephant.”
So, that begs the question: which is more important, being professional or being creative?
Dick Weisgrau – he’s the former Executive Director of ASMP. (for those of you who don’t know, the ASMP is the American Society of Media Photographers. It’s basically THE association of professional photographers.) Dick once said “It’s almost more important to be a good business person than it is to be a good photographer”
There are 2 things to walk away from that with: to maintain a career in the industry, you need to be both creative and professional. They’re the 2 most important aspects. However, to sacrifice any aspect of your creativity for the sake of appearing more professional is the first step in removing yourself from your passion.
If you’re a baker, or a sculptor, or an illustrator, or a photographer, or a graphic designer and you have your own company – when you meet someone and they ask what you do, do you say “I’m a business owner?”
No – You introduce yourself by your passion.
Hi. I’m Jon , I’m a photographer, and I’m a professional creative.
Who are you?