5 Mistakes I’ve Made as a Creative

Recently I’ve been trying to evaluate where I’m at with my design work and where I want to go. As a part of that, I’ve been working on pinpointing some of the things I could have done better so I don’t make the same mistakes again. Being honest and open about where you’ve gone wrong is key, I think, to getting better and growing as a person and as an artist*. I thought I’d share 5 of those mistakes with you now so that you can avoid them and to hold myself accountable to not making them again.

NOT STARTING SOONER/BEING SCARED

This is the mistake I wanted to share the most because I think it’s the one that other people will benefit from the most. I should have started sooner. I knew I loved design, and I didn’t just jump in. I hesitated and worried and then hesitated some more. Trying to freelance hasn’t been easy, and neither has starting up this blog. But now that I’ve started I wish I’d had the guts to do so earlier. If there’s something you want to do just have a go at it. The worst thing that can happen is that you’re not very good at it – I know that sometimes that is the WORST thing if you’re not very good at failing or if you’ve pinned your dream on something, but if you’re not very good work at it, get better, or combine it with something you are good at.

NOT NETWORKING

I’m an anxious introvert so networking isn’t something I naturally want to do, but it’s definitely something I should have tried harder at. A lot of my work has come from referrals and I could have worked harder to keep those connections branching out by meeting people in person and asking for introductions. I also should have been more proactive in reaching out to people I want to collaborate with. I was really good at reaching out to people for interviews when I was writing on behalf of The Oxford Student, but less so when I wanted to reach out to someone just as myself. I’m starting to do that more now, and honestly, everyone has been so lovely and I don’t know what I was so scared about.

NOT SPEAKING UP

There are some projects I worked on which I know could have been done better if I’d spoken up a bit more about their direction and their execution. While my job was just to design, I should have been better at the start about making everything I worked on the best it could be as a consultant as well as just as a maker.

NOT DEFINING MY “BRAND”

I realise now I should have put even more thought into what I wanted this blog to be, what I wanted it to say and how I wanted it to benefit other people. I’m still in the process of working that out, and I definitely think some of this comes from doing. But I could and should have defined my direction more before I started because it would have helped this site feel more cohesive and helped my channel my ideas more.

NOT TAKING MORE CLASSES

Everything that I can do digitally I taught myself, and I’m quite proud of that fact. But I think I would have benefited from taking more classes and really pushing myself rather than just getting by on what I could work out myself with a minimal amount of googling. I’m not saying I should have gone to design school (although I do sometimes think about it) I think I should have taken better advantage of resources like Skillshare. But it’s never too late, right?

What mistakes are you learning from? What do you wish you could tell your younger self about now that you’re a bit older, a bit wiser, and a bit further ahead?

*super uncomfortable with even kind of referring to myself as an artist

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11 Comments

  1. March 24, 2017 / 3:20 pm

    The networking one is always the hardest for me. I think it’s more of a confidence thing. Part of the deal with networking is making a connection that could be beneficial for both parties and yet I feel I never have anything to offer. I worry it just comes out as a “please love me, I’m a sad and lonely girl” cry instead, haha. I do think it is one of the most powerful skills to develop though, in any industry, so hopefully we can do better with that. As you said with your last point, it’s never too late!

    • Natalie
      March 26, 2017 / 12:11 pm

      I feel like we’re so on the same page with networking! I know it’s good, and I rationally know that people like people saying hi I like your work can we chat? But it’s so hard! I guess we’ll just have to bite the bullet and give it a go!

  2. March 25, 2017 / 1:14 am

    You’re too hard on yourself!
    I think you should now write a post on the 5 things you think you’ve done well as a creative!!

    • Natalie
      March 26, 2017 / 12:11 pm

      Haha thank you! Don’t worry there are some posts about my achievements/things I’ve gotten better at in the works too, I just thought these were worth reflecting on too!

    • Natalie
      March 26, 2017 / 12:12 pm

      No worries, I hope they help!

  3. March 25, 2017 / 9:32 pm

    I’m building a craft business, I already make lamps, that no one buys yet, but I’m also marketing myself as a fabrication artist. My work is impressive, I’m friendly, approachable and confident but I’ve been nervous as all heck to really put myself out there. Every week I tell myself this is it, I’m going to pitch a few stores, talk to a few event planners but I always chicken out making tons of excuses. My Flyers aren’t good enough, or my pictures are refined enough. I’m so tired of being scared to jump that I’m stuck on the ground. This week is really the week. I have 5 stores lined up and am emailing multiple event planners. It’s either poop or get off the pot. Wish me luck!

    • Cece
      March 26, 2017 / 10:27 am

      Good luck Mary! 🙂

    • Natalie
      March 26, 2017 / 12:13 pm

      Good luck Mary! I’m sure you’re a lot more ready than you think, it’s so great that you’re actually doing it and putting that faith in yourself!

  4. March 26, 2017 / 6:25 pm

    I can really see myself in everything you’ve shared. I’ve made the exact same mistakes and only just recently started doing something about it (and I feel like I’ve wasted SO MUCH time!). As frustrating as it is, as long as you’re using these mistakes as a learning opportunity, that’s all good; what’s most important is to not let them keep you from improving yourself by focusing on the negative (which is exactly what I’ve been doing up until not too long ago), so don’t beat yourself up because of them, and try to gradually improve where you feel you’re lacking 🙂

    However, I’m not really practicing what I preach because just like Asti said, networking is something I can’t really bring myself to be good at. I want to, but my anxiety and shyness just play against me, ugh. I’ll keep trying tho!

    • Natalie
      March 27, 2017 / 5:13 pm

      I couldn’t agree with this more. It’s important to take a step back and realise what you could have done better as long as you make sure you do better in the future, and that’s exactly what I’m trying to do – even if networking is the worst! But I feel like we’ve go some much space and opportunity for growth in the future which is super exciting.

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