How to Stand Out as a Creative
If you’re doing the same thing that everyone else is doing, you’re going to end up in the same place as everyone else, which is more likely than not, not where you want to be as a working creative. Now more than ever the creative market is flooded by professionals, amateurs, freelancers and even hobbyists. It’s more than likely that you see success defined by your own terms, following your own path and being recognized for it. So, here are a few quick tips on how to separate yourself from the crowd.
Why Should You Stand Out?
Nowadays, anyone can be a creative. From children to corporate lawyers or doctors, many people practice various forms of art in their spare time, and the vast majority of them are sharing their art online. Anyone with an Instagram account fancies themself an amateur photographer. It often makes entering the creative field daunting, but the number one way to increase people’s engagement with you, or to avoid getting lost in the clutter, is to make sure you stand out. Don’t be like everyone else.
If It Feels Safe, You’re Doing It Wrong.
Complacency is a killer. If you ever feel like you’re making creative decisions based on what is popular online, and what you’ve seen many people do online, it’s time to reflect on whether or not you’re making the best decision with your work. As much as it’s important to follow the rules and conventions of the medium you’re working with, it’s also your job as a creative to envision art that exists outside of the box. Therefore, comfort or doing things that feel safe, because that’s what everyone else is doing, is a surefire way to make sure you get lost in the crowd. Think outside the box. Do something different.
Try Something New.
After every project, during my years in film school, I’d routinely ask myself “Is this something I could have done a year ago?” My goal was for the answer to that question to consistently be: No.
Athletes don’t go to the gym to lift the same weights and run the same number of kilometres every day, so we artists shouldn’t always rely on our habits and strong points as crutches. It feels easy and comfortable to rely on things we’re good at or to fall back on practices that we know our audience enjoys, a speciality can turn into a crutch very quickly.
Diversifying your toolkit, and sharpening those tools, not only helps you to grow, but also helps divide you from the rest. You’ll develop a nuanced and unique voice.
You’re More Than Enough.
Other than the narcissists among us, most people tend to think of themselves as fairly unimpressive. Imposter syndrome gets to us all. We might look ourselves in the mirror, and wonder “what can I offer to the world?” and lament all the things we don’t have. We compare ourselves to others and think that we are fundamentally not enough.
But that’s just not true. The first step in creative progression, and being able to recognise that regardless of your imperfections, you are all you have to offer. So strip away the need to affirm you’re enough, who cares? You’re you, and as long as you’re confident in your identity and your voice, it will shine.
Comparison is the Thief of Joy.
Yes, sue me, I’m advising you not to compare yourself to others in a blog post partially premised on comparing yourself to others. My advice isn’t to look at what your contemporaries are doing, and then, do the opposite of that, but rather, to provide you with some tools to hone in on your own unique voice and vision.
An enhanced focus on what everyone is doing around you can often make you blind to your own talents and strengths. You’ll always be counting what others can do, and what you can’t, instead of counting what you can do.
As I mentioned earlier, being yourself unabashedly is one of the most radical acts you can make as an artist. The creative environment is incredibly competitive and saturated, and often seeing a friend or colleague achieving certain things can feel like a sucker punch if you’re currently struggling on your journey.
It’s always good to remember that someone else’s gain isn’t your loss; their strengths aren’t your weakness.
It’s a priceless skill to learn to appreciate your process and work as it exists and grows independently of everything that surrounds it. Don’t let comparison steal your joy!
Finding your own voice is one of the hardest parts of the creative process, but it’s an invaluable and worthwhile endeavour. Finding your own voice helps set the path to your success. It helps you stand out in the crowd and to go against the grain.
Sometimes the path isn’t already laid for you. More often than not, you’re going to have to set a new path by walking it. You might fall, get lost, pick up a few bruises and venture through dark patches, but once you reach the light, you’ll be all the stronger for it.