The Why of it All

At our 3rd Quarter Meeting last week, our Chief Creative Officer asked all of us at LPK to figure out individually "Why we do what we do". I didn't take long to figure out my reason: I do what I do because I'm intensely curious and I love a challenge. I never planned to get into what I do for a living; life just kinda' took me in that direction. However, in many ways, I've been doing the same thing since I was 12 years old. The only difference between now and then is that I've added skills and have gotten better at what I do along the way. And my client list has grown along the way too.

So far in my pro career I've done a combination of all of these jobs:
• Comic Book Artist
• Comic Book Publisher
• Photographer's Assistant/Darkroom Tech
• Graphic Designer
• Storyboard Artist
• Commercial Illustrator
• Photo Retouching
• Consumer Product Concepts
• Consumer Product Designer
• Motion Graphics
• Instructor
• Who the hell knows next…

I love waking up the next morning and asking myself "What's new for me to do today?"

I like to divine the difference between "process-oriented" thinkers and "results-oriented" thinkers. These ends of the spectrum are marked as MAINTENANCE and INVENTION.

Maintenance is the state in which a system is kept in motion through pre-planned processes. Some people are great at maintenance. Give them a system that works and they'll keep that system going… as long as the factors involved in the system don't change.

Inventors are people who try to see beyond the problems in front of them in order to create a solution that makes the problem obsolete. In short: a maintenance guy replaces a light bulb; an inventor creates a light bulb that does not need to be replaced.

As a person, you can be process-oriented in some things and results-oriented in others. In general I’m a results guy. I can think of 50 ways to solve a problem, and I can adapt, invent, incorporate the new, and adjust my techniques as the problem evolves. It’s the evolution of learning a new process, incorporating those results into my array and then discovering the new that keeps me alive. I also get very bored when a set of problems evolves from an invention phase to a maintenance phase. At that point I leave it to those who are best at maintenance; not that I’m too good to do it; in the long run I’m just not very good at it.

So that brings me to now. As I write this I’m on a plane on another trip for my employer. In the 7 years I’ve been here I’ve gone from a role player in very large and complicated teams to what I really do best; explore! I get to go places many in my company don’t get to go. I get to speak to people and form relations that most do not. I get to direct projects, contribute at any stage of others and keep myself busy… inventing! All doing the same basic skill I learned how to do at 5 years old; I draw pictures of stuff!

I would advise all young prospects in the creative business to make it their goal towards freedom; not titles, status or even money. All those things will come in time, but the most rewarding is the ability to do what you’re good at in the way that you know how to do it best.

Stay hungry and learn how to explore!

Comments

"...not titles, status or even money. All those things will come in time, but the most rewarding is the ability to do what you’re good at in the way that you know how to do it best."

Great perspective. Add "...with the proper amount of time to do it" and it'd be perfect. :)

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