An Open Letter To Denver’s Creatives,
This letter is part apology, part thank you.
First, let me introduce myself. I am hack boy. Now I’m sure that last sentence has raised the ire of some of you reading this. Those people are the reason behind this letter.
Over the past week or two, the negative power of some of my comments has been brought to my attention, most recently at Thursday’s party. This has led me to do some soul searching, and I realize I do owe everyone an apology. While I always look to stay focused on the work with what I was saying, how I was saying things at times made it personal. This was never my intent, and for that I am truly sorry.
There are no right answers in our industry. This is what makes what we do so challenging yet so rewarding. While an accountant can look at their work and know they’re right when column A and column B add up to the same number. We don’t have that luxury. All we have on which to judge the “correctness” of our work is opinion. And there are many layers of opinions, which go into any final execution. First is our own, when we’re sitting around creating the work. Then comes the creative director when we first present our ideas. Then there’s the client who sees only what made he first two cuts. Sometimes the client’s opinion move the process forward, sometimes it takes us back to square one. Then consider the fact that even if you do get something through and produced, it’s simply one of an infinite number of possible solutions. We are pretty much guaranteed there will be someone out there with a solution someone will see as just as good if not better. And you can pretty much be guaranteed your peers will have their opinion.
It can be a brutal process that can take a toll. After all, as creatives, we pour our hearts and souls into what we do and rightly so. That is the definition of passion. But our passion for what we do can also lead us to lose perspective. Every time one of our ideas is criticized, it can seem like an attack on our very being. I understand this, as I am the same way. There are times when I beat myself up if I’ve got nothing for ideas, and I get a little tweaked when someone doesn’t love one of my ideas. It’s simply human nature. But what has allowed me to remain in such an emotionally tough business for all these years was one simple statement by a creative director who got it and got me. He told me, “Any comment I make about your work, whether positive or negative, is simply that a comment about what is on the table in front of me.” He helped me realize I needed to separate myself from my work. I needed to balance my passion with perspective.
Those who know me well, know I am passionate about this business. There is nothing better than the feeling of landing on a great, creative solution that moves the needle for the client. My passion is why I get worked up when, in my opinion, I see great opportunities go unfulfilled. The operative phrase here being “in my opinion”. I have to commend The Denver Egotist for what they have set out to do. In their opinion, Denver has the potential to be a creative force on a grand scale, and to their credit, they are attempting to help us achieve that goal. I also have to curse them for baiting me to the point that I lost the balance between my passion and perspective. In turn, I have to thank my fellow Egotists for calling a spade a spade and helping me realize this.
Just as life is a grand experiment, we are an industry of trial and error.
From the first day we decide to become art directors, designers, writers and such, we enter this industry as students. This doesn’t change once we graduate from school. Once we get into the field, we begin to learn the dynamics of agency life. We learn how to share ideas. We learn how to blend our ideas with the ideas of our partners to create even stronger ideas. We learn how to critique our own work and the work of others. We learn it is not always our idea driving us. We learn how to sell our ideas. We learn there are times to draw a line in the sand and steadfastly defend an idea, and there are times to simply write it off as a loss. We learn to separate our personal feelings from our professional opinions. We learn how to be objective while remaining passionate.
While my experience to date on The Denver Egotist has to say the least been eye-opening, I whole-heartedly believe the site is what Denver’s creative industry needs. But in order for it to succeed, we need to keep our perspective and we need to participate. There is an incredible abundance of experience and wisdom within our state, and we need a vehicle where we can all learn from that knowledge. This means creating a venue where what is being said carries at least as much weight as who is saying it.
As a freelancer who has most likely burned a few important bridges with my comments, I am the perfect example of why there are times when remaining anonymous on The Denver Egotist can be good. If you feel you have to remain anonymous, please choose to remain anonymous over choosing to simply not comment. At the same time, please don’t hide behind anonymity in order to make unproductive personal attacks. On the other side of the coin, do not chide others simply because they choose to remain anonymous. An open exchange of thoughts and ideas will help us all become better creatives. In turn this will help improve the way our community is viewed as a whole. We need to keep the conversation going, but, as I have learned, we need to do so in a productive manner. I offer myself up as an example from which everyone can learn.
I have said my peace, so please let me once again apologize to those who I have injured with my comments. That was never my intention. I simply hope we can all rally around the efforts of The Denver Egotist and make Colorado second to none for ideas.
The poster formerly known as hack boy