I still remember the day that I was interviewed by seven seniors of a student organization when I was a Freshmen at college. On that day, the weather was hot and uncomfortable. All of the seniors were serious, and the first question they asked me was that whether I had any strengths. I answered that I was a creative person.
“Why did you say so? Do you have any experience of creating?”
“I ... I came up with an idea of making orange coffee. You know, something like putting an orange into a cup of coffee…”
“This is just an example of combination in our daily life. Do you have any creative experience on a formal project, or, any work experience in the creative industries?”
I was stunned. I did not have any experiences that they expected.
Before that interview, I have often thought of becoming a creative person because I was very proud of my “creativity” in my brain. However, the interview destroyed my confidence. From then on, I have been always thinking about the questions of creativity, such as that, “Am I really a creative person?” “What should I do if I want to improve my creative skills?”
Make My Voice heard
During my childhood, I was one of the most introverted students in class. I was so bored of listening to other students chatting with each other all the time. Therefore, silence filled in my days. Yet, things have been changed when I was accidently assigned to design a blackboard in the back of classroom. That was my first time presenting my ideas of creativity to other people. A curly typeface for the header was created, and some doodle illustrations appeared on the side. Suddenly, I felt that many of my classmates were attracted to the blackboard, because they were staring at it when they entered the classroom.
“It must be the power of creativity.” I told myself.
I realized that people would pay attention to my design, and that I can make my voice heard by creating, even without changing my personal characteristic. Consequently, I was in charge of all blackboard design works from priminary school to high school. Also, I was obsessed with designing the blackboard. Every time I would start with a sketch of layouts, headers, copies and images, and then I would distribute some works to my teammates. We completed all parts of the design as a whole, and then a teacher came to us with some suggestions. Finally, we would appreciate our design works together, sitting in front of the blackboard.
Make the Creation Better
When I was a kid, I believe that I have creative awareness to various design works, such as posters, TV shows, interior designs and fashion designs. As time goes by, I found out that I keep criticizing other people’s design works. For example, when I see some posters with exaggerated colors or low-quality photographs, my intuition is telling me that there must be something need to be fixed. At that point, a picture was presented in my brain about how these posters or photographs can be fixed and look better.
Even though some of my friends told me that I am very picky about design works around, I respond that I want to keep this “bad” personality trait. Because it alerts me that I need to make the creation better all the time. Today, “Make the creation better” is my motto.
Have Some Hobbies
In order to get a higher score in numerous examinations, a Chinese student’s top mission is to study all day long. Additionally, most Chinese students take examination-purpose classes after school, and therefore, they do not have any time for extracurricular activities. In the past, I was confused that, should I choose the same classes with other Chinese students, or should I follow my heart and to choose a drawing class instead. Thanks to my parents, they supported me to choose the drawing class during my childhood.
Although the drawing class could not increase my examination scores at all, it has been the most memorable and unforgettable hobby in my life. Now, drawing is where I fully expressed my ideas and it helps me have creativity. Furthermore, I bought a Canon Digital Single Reflex at college and started my photography journey since then. By capturing beautiful moments and communicating with others through images, I gradually enjoy and love the process of photography. Therefore, I often wonder that, how could a person relax herself and enjoy her lifetime if she does not have any hobbies. In addition, I surprisingly found out that new ideas were easier to catch when I was drawing or photographing. Hence, I believe that hobbies are closely related to creativity and we need to have some hobbies.
Deal with Self-Doubt
I constantly doubt myself in my life. The reason might be that it is difficult for others to persuade me, or I do not have enough self-confidence. After I started my creative career, self-doubt appears every day. I highly doubt that whether my work is creative and reasonable, and that whether there is something I can make to improve a work.
Galileo Galilei states that, “Doubt is the father of innovation.” He doubted if objects that are affected by gravity have the same speed. Thus, he offered the famous experiment, which called “Two Object Falling”, and the theory of speed and velocity, one of the greatest creations in the world.
In my opinion, great creations do not show up suddenly. They come from doubts and persistence of finding better answers and better solutions. Self-doubt might be a good characteristic for a designer because doubts allow person to work much harder and make more progress than others.
Learn to Compromise
When I decided to be a designer, some people told me that a designer needs to compromise on many things. Thus, I told myself not to get angry or sad when someone said no to my design works. In fact, the harsh reality is that we live in a cruel world. My clients or the manager would look at my computer screens with a frowny face and said that, “Chris, it’s a good start, but…” They give me feedback and then expect me to do as the same as they request. I have been trying to explain my thoughts to my clients or the manager, but they would not accept my views. Accordingly, I have to start deleting many things I made in the computer screens, and I felt that I was killing my precious “babies”.
Sometimes, I even complain to my friends that my design works are not respected by others. Moreover, my self-esteem has been challenged by any person who says no to my design works. I am questioning myself, “Why are people trying to measure the value of creation?” “Why are they always saying no to me?” “I am not coming up with those ideas accidently. My brains are burning and I need to make them run faster and faster all the time!” “Is it too tired to be a designer?” At that time, I thought that the creation is a valueless thing in the world.
In my perspective, a design work will lose its unique personalities if too many compromises are made, while a design work with strong personalities might have bias if the creator did not make any compromises. Therefore, a good creation is polished by great feedbacks without losing its soul. Some designers love to say that “take pride in my work”. However, a person may have bias or be blinded by his or her pride. I think I should not take anything personally because other people’s feedbacks are targeting at the design works rather than myself. By changing the way of thinking, I felt less frustrated, and I tried my best to find a balance of being compromised and being artistic.