It’s A Trap! How Pigeonholing Your Creativity Can Hurt

Being pigeonholed can actively restrict your creativity. It’s a trap!

Focus is important in creativity. It allows you to achieve, rather than wallow about in a swamp of disparate ideas. Knowing what your strengths are, knowing how to use them to their best ability, knowing how to maximise creative opportunities are all elements of focus.

However, there’s a big difference between focus and pigeonholing, and many creative types (or their bosses) forget that. Just because you focus your creativity on developing stunning artworks in one particular medium doesn’t mean that is the only area you should think creatively.

The advertising industry is ride with pigeonholed creatives.
That’s a copywriter. That’s an art director. That’s a digital specialist.

Don’t ask the copywriter to think about integrating his words visually within a digital environment. That’s why we have individual specialists, right?

Yawn. Ok, I’m slightly exaggerating, but only slightly. I’ve dealt with many people who look at me as a specialist in my given medium, assuming I have little value in any other (there are probably a few who think i have little value in any medium, but that’s another story).

It’s a shortsighted attitude, and one that you, as a creative type, should treat very carefully. If you allow yourself to be pigeonholed too strictly, you’re actively allowing your creative output to be reduced.

Think about it. If you’re a writer and create visuals, you gain a new perspective on how words and images combine. If you’re an architect who plays an instrument, your understanding of acoustics may affect your next design. If you’re a painter who sculpts, how much better wil you understand light and shadow the next time you pick up a brush.

Of course, it seems obvious. But it’s often forgotten as we delve deeper into our own specialities. Explore creativity itself as a discipline, and please, please broaden the creative fields in which you work.

Remember a computer geek with a penchant for typography….

From Mumbrella: Go on then… What are the creative industries?

Excellent cross posting HERE from Mumbrella & The Conversation on the decline of the so called ‘creative industries’, and the idea that such things even exist.


All industries have the potential for creativity.

All people are creative.

Creativity can be enhanced by training. That’s a fact, Jack.


Until we stop labeling industries as ‘creative’, we won’t stop considering others ‘non creative’, and until we stop the twin tidal waves of risk aversion and conformity that are currently sweeping the world, we will continue to see incremental creativity, rather than the radical ideas that have truly changed the world.

Authority Is Given, Control Is Taken, Respect Is Earned.

But once you earn respect, the others often follow.

With Respect to Operation Respect, Rock River Valley

Earning respect in any field is tough, and creative types have it tougher than most. What we do is usually subjective, we’re always competing with the next big thing and past success is often seen as a sign that we’re past our best.

So how do you earn the respect of your peers? I can only go by my own experiences.


I’m not claiming to be at the top of my field by any measure (when it comes to ideas, I like to think of myself as a hack with a knack), but I believe I’ve earned some level of respect from my peers, and I hope to continue holding that respect for a while longer.

How? I help, and I share.

I’m not the world’s greatest creative, but the techniques I’ve learned, the insights I’ve gathered, the work I’ve done over years has value, and I share that with my teams, colleagues and associates whenever and wherever possible.

I don’t shove anything down their throats, but I’m happy to have my brain picked and to explain why I’ve done what I’ve done, and how I did it. Over the years, I hope I’ve helped a few people grow in their careers, and helped others solve creative problems.

Basically, I don’t believe I’ve earned respect based on particular projects, as much as on a willingness to share and help others along the creative path.

So the question is; what do you do to earn respect as a creative? If you’re relying on that last big idea, you might be in trouble (that was great, but what have you done for us lately?). If you rely on building respect and reputation based on helping and mentoring those around you, you’ll find the path easier, more sustainable and ultimately more rewarding.

Creative Techniques: The Benefits Of The Right Creative Thinking Space

Apologies for my recent slackness in posting. New jobs demand new focus, so my head has been firmly in workspace.

creativity_booster_kit-250x300As part of that new role, I recently had the pleasure of attending a creative training session with Mark Hawkins of Inventium. Stacks of great, scientifically based insights and techniques for improving creativity.

I’m not going to delve too deeply into what Mark taught (hey, it’s how Inventium makes a living), but the issue of creative space resonated strongly with me. Where do you do your thinking?

In many corporations today, national designs infiltrate local offices, painting walls, ceilings and floors in a triple coat of beige. While this is great for accountants and senior management, who may only crack a smile when 100% conformity is reached, it often leaves workers in incredibly uninspiring environments.

Yes, the advertising and marketing worlds are usually different, but I’ve been dragged into many creative sessions with clients in the boardrooms of the bland.

If you have control over your creative environment, Inventium recommends warm colours and external images (i.e. natural scenes) on the walls to help stimulate creativity. If you don’t have control, open the front door and go for a walk.

I attempt a 20 minute walk every day. It’s good for my health, and (because I always take a problem out on the walk with me) it’s good for business. The break from routine, the natural environment and the change in my usual surroundings always helps my creativity.

Do it. Grab the handle, open the door and change your environment when you need that extra creative nudge.

Great Marketing: Let’s Cafe Latte Printer

One of my favourite ideas ever!


A great example of engaging consumers in a fun way, and bringing your brand to life (although I might have succumbed to the temptation of adding a brand logo to each picture). What do you think?