The third installment of I Went to Adobe Creative Camp at SXSW 2015… And all I brought back is a series of blog posts, the firsthand account of a first-time Adobe SXSW Creative Camp attendee.
Failure as a Creative Catalyst with Erik Natzke
“Anyone here who has not failed as a creative, raise your hand, stand up, and walk out the door. Because THAT is not how creativity is born. Creativity is born through struggle, through strife, through what happens every day when someone decides, ‘I’m gonna go try this.'”
Over the next hour Erik walked the audience through his career, and its portfolio of projects, and the serendipitous collision of challenges, setbacks, successes, efforts, and decisions that led him to…. now. Over a dozen stories, each connected by the thread of a falter, a restart, and success.
“Never turn things down. Especially if something is a challenge for you. Test your reach not your grasp.”
Doubt plagues people in creative professions. More often than not, instead of believing, “I got this,” internal conversations are more of a faltering, ego-crushing, “I don’t know if I’m going to be good at this.”
Pushing through the insecurities is possible because of people who’ve gone before, who’ve also been troubled by finding satisfying resolutions and answers that address the needs of a creative brief. Every creative difficulty is supported by a community that knows the reward… of a solution that was hard to come by.
“Everyone is always going to come to you to do exactly what you’ve done before, so you have to force yourself to evolve… unless you’re really happy with what you’re doing. I’m constantly trying to make sure that what I’m doing is something I enjoy.”
Each project leads to what’s next. An obvious statement perhaps, but Erik delivered a stern warning to the audience to be careful about choices, to not make them based on dexterity, or comfort, or convenience. But to always be doing those things that fuel passion. Because looking back at a career through a lens of “I stuck with what I did well,” might not be so satisfying.
Instead of spending a lifetime doing only what you’re “good at,” do what you love. Make a move. Make a change. Even if it’s painful.
Erik’s first project at Adobe was We Are The Creative Class, “a rallying cry to the passion, the pain and the power of commitment to creative. It’s a creativity anthem that embodies the struggles and strife of the creative profession.”
Erik ended up at Adobe because he wanted to work on the tools that have played such a big part in his creative process. And, during the almost three years he’s been at Adobe, he’s created beautifully-memorable bodies of work like the TED All-Star Portraits and was the principal designer for the build of Adobe Brush CC.
But Erik’s first uplifting project for Adobe almost didn’t happen because of a series of Herculean constraints:
My conclusion: A creative path, littered with projects that didn’t go as planned, is not always an easy one, but the successes, the result of inevitable failures… worth the suffering.
Read the wrap-up of Session 2: Moving from Graphic Design to 3D Object Design with Paul Trani