4 things to remember when trying to 'make it' in the creative world

Marketing and New Business

What does it mean to ‘make it’? Is it fame and fortune? Having your work published? Or even just getting a job? And, more importantly, in an increasingly competitive creative industry, how do you make it? Genius? Pure luck? Nepotism?

We’re certain it’s not the latter, which is why for the third year running, Rufus Leonard hosted Making It, a D&AD New Blood fringe event featuring a panel of four impressive speakers who’ve thrived across a range of creative professions.

The D&AD New Blood Festival aims to inspire and nurture young creatives as they take their first steps into the industry, providing a platform for them to showcase their work and make connections with leading agencies and studios. At Rufus we’re always looking to support and cultivate new creative talent, so we opened our doors to students, recent grads and young creatives, who were invited to listen to four PechaKucha-style presentations before an intimate Q&A session. 

We invited illustrator/rapper Mr Bingo, D&AD Yellow Pencil winning copywriter Ceri Tallett, director James Henry, and former Rufus brand strategist and current Bloom and Wild creative director Sara Gordon. Coming from a wide range of disciplines and creative backgrounds, what these four speakers have in common is that they’ve ‘Made It’ (though, humbly, they all dispute this). 

So how did they do it? Despite their different skillsets and niches, four key pieces of advice recurred across the speakers’ presentations that capture why they’ve flourished in the creative industry. 

Even if your job doesn't lend itself to creativity, there will be opportunities to flex your creative muscles.

1. Persistence pays
Be bold and ask to do the work you’re passionate about. Even if your job doesn’t always lend itself to creativity, there will be opportunities to flex your creative muscles. Ceri described how, when working in the Trade Marketing team at Innocent, she frequently sent her writing to the creative department until eventually her copy was used on a smoothie carton. She then went on to be appointed as Head Writer – proof that if you continue to create your own work and showcase your craft, you’ll be recognised.

2.Creative and active networking
Say ‘networking’ and most people will imagine being thrust into a room for forced conversation with people in suits. But networking doesn’t have to be passive and tedious, it can (and should) be active and creative – and what’s more, it could be crucial to landing a job. James told the audience how he managed to bag work experience when, on the off chance, he contacted the Steadicam operator on a major film franchise. You never know who might reply to your email, so think of creative ways to show your skills to the people who inspire you.

You can change your path at any point during your career.

3. Keep on ‘Making It’
You don’t just ‘make it’ once, and ‘making it’ can take on different meanings at different points throughout your career. For Mr Bingo, in the years after he graduated, ‘making it’ meant working as a commercial illustrator for famous brands like Nike, Channel 4 and Oxfam. Later on, it was the decision to become a full-time artist, and self-publishing a collection of his ‘Hate Mail’ postcards. You can change your path at any point during your career, it’s about defining what success means to you right now as well as what it might mean in the future.

4. You’ve got to make stuff to make it
Though they didn’t say it in as many words, all four speakers were clearly extremely skilled in their respective areas. They’d spent years learning, practising, and refining their crafts, and what stood out from their presentations was the breadth of their work. Whether it was being appointed as a creative director for Apple, directing a music video for Bombay Bicycle Club or heading a creative team for a letterbox flower delivery company, the success of each panellist was dependent on years of hard graft and practice. By definition the creative industry requires you to create stuff (whatever your medium), so keep on making to make it. 

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