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When creative work doesn’t make the cut

04 September, 2023 Reading: 3:13 mins
Max Dunlop

By Max

Our Senior Creative, Max, discusses ‘that’ sinking feeling, and how to get over it!

When creative work doesn’t make the cut

As a creative in the marketing industry, your job is to find compelling ways to sell a brand and their products. More often than not what you’re creating has to exist within the confines of a set of brand guidelines and company playbooks. Colours and fonts are usually locked down, there might be strict rules about logo placement/treatment, imagery and even brand tone of voice can have a sizeable influence over how far you can range artistically over your brief. And that’s even before you consider the all-seeing, and at times volatile, world of social media where everyone and everything is a keystroke away from being cancelled.

Reject the overwhelming allure of self-judgement

With all this in mind you may find yourself scrutinising your ideas more harshly than they probably deserve and/or come to a sickening realisation that they haven’t a hope of being signed off. So, your carefully nurtured idea is parked or ditched before it even got a chance to fly, or sometimes even before it went in front of your client. However, a great idea is still a great idea and it should be nurtured. A weed is just a flower in the wrong place, after all. Perhaps it’s not one for the client but it might be one for you to run with and explore in your own time, a personal project for the portfolio now it’s freed from all those guidelines and rules. Having these personal projects allows you to break free from conventional thinking patterns with a fresh perspective, identify alternative approaches to problems and come up with solutions that might ordinarily be overlooked due to trying to create too tightly within the ‘rules’. Ultimately that’s going to improve all your work, so it’s never wasted time.

Stop seeing rejected work, start seeing opportunities

Freeing yourself up to think creatively not only promotes great work for clients, it also gives you the chance to keep your skills sharp and maintain your portfolio with work that demonstrates what makes you unique. With the risk of sounding ‘all life coach’ (stay with me here) treating a failed project as a chance to think differently unlocks personal growth and development. It will encourage you to explore your imagination, take risks, and challenge your own assumptions and beliefs. Your personal portfolio should allow you to express yourself in unique ways and find new forms of self-expression. Overall, creative thought is a highly valuable skill that can help us succeed in many different areas of life, leading to innovation, growth and new discoveries that have the potential to improve the world around us…or simply pay the bills which alone is quite a feat these days! So don’t see rejected work, see opportunities for creative development.

Find the silver lining and take comfort that others have been here before

Quite apart from all the personal development opportunities, there are real life chances to capitalise on rejected work. If you want to be inspired, and the chance to win industry recognised awards for your non-client work, then check out the annual Drum Chip Shop Awards as an antidote to the usual ‘same-old’ awards. With categories like ‘Best ad that was rejected by a client’, ‘Best ad for a category we have not yet thought of’ and ‘Best ad - most likely to get us in deep-shit’ (to name just a few) there’s definitely something for everyone. Keep an eye out as the year unfolds for opportunities that might present themselves to make the most of something that didn’t quite make the cut.

As they say, one person’s trash is another’s treasure…

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