What one important question do you need to ask as a creative?

When we ask better questions we can reshape our perspective and how we react to critique.

Sarah Healy
Oct 28, 2019 · 4 min read
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Why we need to ask better questions (illustrated by Sarah Healy)

Last week I wrote about seven rules for creativity from a friendly robot. (link to the article when published)

These the guidelines which frame the creative process of Friendly Robot aka François Leroy. In that article, I briefly explored these seven principles.

While in this article I would like to go more in-depth on his first rule — Did it work?

Why is this question important?

It is a simple question.

Did it work?

But it is a bit scary to ask.

If it did work, then it is ok.

But what if it didn’t?

Then we have to face the harsh reality.

That it was a perhaps fruitless endeavor — like pouring sand into a broken egg timer.

This all depends on how we look at it.

To be able to answer this question reveals your level

While it is a simple question.

If you are just starting off it is difficult to answer.

Because you are unsure if it is good enough or not.

This is why there are creative directors.

Creative directors know the level to which the art needs to be at it.

Therefore they can look at artwork with a certain level of detachment.

They are judging if it needs to be edited, amended or can pass.

When you create something you are emotionally invested in it. You want it to be good and you also want others to think that it is good.

Critiques can be crushing when you are starting out, but this is all in how you look at it.

How you react to this question and where you go to find answers determines so much

While it is a simple question.

Reflection is pivotal as an artist.

So too is the desire to learn.

What if you don’t know if it worked or not?

How can you find out?

First detachment is required
We need to detach ourselves from something we may have poured many hours into.

Something we perhaps are emotionally invested in.

Look at it from the right perspective
We need to look at it objectively.

If we have difficulty doing this we may have to ask others such as peers, creatives at a higher level than us or mentors, if we are lucky to have them.

In his interview with The Futur, Kyle Cooper perfectly illustrates what it takes to level up and the great relationship he had with his mentor Paul Rand

Kyle Cooper: You’d tell me if it sucked wouldn’t you Mr. Rand?

Paul Rand: You’re god damn right I would tell you if it sucked. If you came here for a pat on the back you came to the wrong place.

It is clear they could give other shit while retaining mutual respect.

Kyle Cooper goes onto say that

There were a lot of people that would go in there and want to be validated, to celebrate how wonderful their work was and they would be hurt you know when he found fault in it.

I didn’t care if he found fault I was there to sit at his feet.

Too often when creatives show mentors or idols their work they seek validation.

A validation that if unrequited can cause them hurt and they can lose the heart to create.

Kyle did not seek validation from Paul Rand.

Instead, he possessed a very different mindset, one defined by three distinct traits

  • 01: A intense desire to learn
  • 02: A humbleness that he still carries with him today
  • 03: A deep dedication to his craft

These suggest why he has been such a mammoth success in his field and why his integrity as an artist continues to shine brightly

Kyle’s words are always worth a listen.

You can check out the interview I referenced with Kyle Cooper here. There is a part 1 and part 2.

Thank you for taking the time to read

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Sarah Healy is a designer, writer and adventuress, focused on motion design and visual storytelling. She authors content over on Design Digest and Happy Human.

Follow her on Twitter, Dribble, Behance or her website.

Design Digest

Design Digest publishes curated stories weekly on…

Sarah Healy

Written by

A multidisciplinary designer, storyteller, and adventuress with a penchant for endurance feats and exploring blank spots on the map. sarahhealy.net/

Design Digest

Design Digest publishes curated stories weekly on creativity, design and why it matters.

Sarah Healy

Written by

A multidisciplinary designer, storyteller, and adventuress with a penchant for endurance feats and exploring blank spots on the map. sarahhealy.net/

Design Digest

Design Digest publishes curated stories weekly on creativity, design and why it matters.

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