Curiosity killed the cat, not the creative

will clarkA curious mind is a prerequisite for being a creative. So why don’t more youngsters entering the creative world ask questions asks Will Clark.

As a junior creative one of the most powerful creative tools is already at your disposal. Curiosity can be a crucial tool when starting work in an industry you know very little about. After my first few years in advertising I have come to realise the full potential of being a curious creative.

Fresh out of design college and AWARD school, I was ready to get stuck into the world of real briefs, real clients and real award potential. However I quickly discovered that the world of advertising is vastly different to the picture that we often paint in our minds before getting there.

It wasn’t that it was hard, I was prepared for a challenge. It was more that I had walked into my first job and had no idea what was going on. The only thing I knew (very) little about was coming up with ideas.

I had no clue what the million acronyms on briefs and in meetings meant or, where to find a decent director, photographer or idea reference. My head was spinning and all I could think was ‘Don’t ask anything stupid, you’ll just give them a reason to fire you’.

It’s a few years since I got my start and I’ve now realised that it’s quite the contrary. You’re not expected to know everything, and in fact, questions are welcomed. Your willingness to be curious demonstrates you are thinking, you care and you’re invested in growing your career.

It’s a well-known fact that mistakes are a natural part of the creative process. And, as a junior you have permission to get it wrong before you get it right. So dive in, don’t be afraid to do something wrong, say something wrong, or think something wrong. Ask questions, tell people you don’t understand what they mean, find out why your ideas might not be making the cut. That’s what being a junior is all about.

When I started in the industry it was like a dream come true, I was scared but excited. After a while I went through a phase where I wasn’t enjoying it and questioned if I had made the right career choice. I realised later down the track I was so worried about the consequences of inexperience that I wasn’t having any fun.

I now know that when you free your inhibitions you become far more productive, have a lot more fun and realise why you love this industry so much. Before I knew it I was learning more, asking more questions and becoming a respectable creative.

After all, if this is a career you love and wanted so badly, why not enjoy it?

The amazing thing is curiosity is not hard to find. It’s not hard to learn and it could be one of the most undervalued tools at your disposal. Creatives during concept and production stages look at a piece of work and ask what could I do to make it better? How could I take this from a good idea to a great idea? What is it that isn’t quite working? It’s this attitude that as a young creative you can grasp and apply to not only your work but your entire career to get the best result.

They say knowledge is power but there must be a hunger for that knowledge in the first place. If you’re unsure, ask why, and if you’re not satisfied with the answer don’t settle until you have enough information. And even then, don’t settle. Remember curiosity killed the cat, not the creative.

  • Will Clark is an art director at independent advertising agency The Works. 

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