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Creatives, Are You Paying Enough Attention?

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Creative industries are fluid. Tastes change and things can be turned around in an instant. It’s a sea of ever-changing ferocity and it can be easy to get left behind or suddenly caught out. The question is, can you predict where the water is going to take you next? It’s something difficult to do, but it is possible to some degree. Without looking at what’s going on around you, you could find yourself left behind and at a sudden loss of interest in the work you do.

Look at what’s going on outside

All the different types of creative work follow fashions and often this can be heavily linked to popular fashion at the same time. What does the world look like now? How has it changed since a couple of years ago? Do certain colors suddenly seem more prevalent? Has some old style made a comeback?

Most of this can be gleaned just from the clothes people wear, but it can also be seen in posters, billboards, and other types of media. It’s a way to get the general mood of the population. Many people often try and oversimplify this, especially during a recession. It’s a common thing to hear people say that during poorer times escapism is more attractive, but is that always true? Does music get more fanciful during times of economic strife? Do people become more flowery and talk about spirituality? Punk music and the British Summer Riots would beg to differ. Don’t rely on overarching assumptions, go and make up your own mind.

You need to be careful to differentiate though. What’s in vogue for the 18 – 24 year olds may not be of interest to others. It’s common sense really, but always try to categorize the things you notice out and about. Keep in mind who you usually target or who any potential clients you have will want to target.

Is change coming in your industry?

This is a way to get ahead of the game. By keeping an eye on your industry you can pick up on where people are beginning to head. For example, in web design, parallax scrolling started to become popular last year and is now becoming much more common place. By paying attention you could have been one of the early users of it, rather than picking it up after it’s spread. Looking like you’re a trail blazer can be very important for your reputation and it’ll impress your clients, especially if they see a new idea you implemented spread further and further down the line. They will know that you have your finger on the pulse.

You can get a good sense of which way the winds blowing by getting online. Find the influencers in your industry and pay attention to what they say and what they say to each other. Over time you’ll begin to notice as different things fall from favor and get replaced by other ideas. It can sometimes be a bit of gamble as the experts aren’t always right, but it is always going to be helpful to see which way the community is leaning



This is another way to be left behind. Technology is always progressing and it can have varying effects on different disciplines. It pays to be looking at what tech companies are releasing so you can see how things might change to what you do. It will also enable you to keep up to date with relevant companies producing things you could use. It will help you make use of new things first, which in turn means you can learn it faster than other people. Therefore you can do stuff that others can’t and that can be integral in getting work ahead of others.

Technology will also change the way people access and view your work too. A perfect example of this is the increasing use of tablets and phones. Now, web designers have to make sure their sites are optimized to work on all these platforms. If people come across a site on their phone that looks a mess, they’ll instantly switch off. Be sure that these sorts of problems won’t happen to you by keeping track of what tech people are using and how this might affect your medium.

This is a cross-post from Creative Agency Freelancing.

Joshua Danton Boyd is a copywriter for the online accountants Crunch.

Creative Agency Freelancing was started by Mark Bowley, a freelance graphic designer in the UK who has been working for London design and advertising agencies for over 14 years. Creative Agency Freelancing is designed to provide ideas and tips to help professionals who work freelance at design, advertising and marketing agencies.

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