Our portfolio should convey our passion, not all our talents

Our portfolio should only present the works that we like to repeat. Especially as beginners, we tend to show everything we have created. We should definitely resist this. Especially if the response to one of our works was strikingly positive, but we felt little ambition and passion about the work itself. Being good at something does not obligate us to do it for life.

Goethe says, “I can’t get rid of the spirits I called.” If we are not careful, we find ourselves doing years of work that do not fulfill us. Our hands may do it well, but our heart longs for something else. This will not make us happy.

Building a new routine: the Golden Coin Method

A small change can make much bigger changes happen in the future. That’s the idea behind the butterfly effect. Likewise, a minimal change in our daily routine can have a massive impact on our lives in the long run. The best part is that it doesn’t take much effort to drastically change our lives and achieve our goals. All it takes is some consistency and perseverance.

Continue reading “Building a new routine: the Golden Coin Method”

Do what you love. Then love what you do

A dream job does not only consist of dream tasks. The first step is to follow our passion in search of our calling. Once we find it, we quickly realize that our dream has a few catches. For example, writing invoices, maintaining the website, night shifts, stressful negotiations, and calls.

Project requests can also seem unspectacular and monotonous. “Why do I always get these boring jobs?” “I’ll get this one over with somehow now, and I’ll go full-throttle on the next one.” However, with this attitude, we sabotage our arduous journey to get here.

The only thing that matters is the work on our table here and now. Instead of condemning and devaluing it from the start, let’s dive into it and grow from it. This is the only way to keep the passion that got us here in the first place.

Our childhood is an excellent guide to finding our passion (1)

The search for my illustration style has been exciting, full of highlights, and at the same time, often tedious and frustrating. Because I wanted to reach clients, there were always thoughts like what might appeal to potential clients and what’s trending right now. So I tried my hand in different areas. But again and again, I hit a wall. I just didn’t enjoy the topics.

Without motivation and vision, I came across drawings I made as a teenager – a small A6 sketchbook. It was full of ink portraits of Hollywood stars and rappers. When I made these drawings, I wasn’t thinking about customers, the market, or my dream to make money with it. Nobody had paid me to draw this. It was my own drive. Maybe I’d better focus on that, I thought. I did, and it felt liberating.

Finding your passion. The million-dollar question is…

When I think about advertising on the Internet and conversations with friends and strangers, it is strikingly often about the question: How do I get a lot of money quickly, without much effort? This is a legitimate, albeit risky, goal, as this incentive opens the doors to fraudsters and criminals.

10 years ago, I had the goal to earn a living with my illustrations. As I worked on it for months, searching for my style, I realized something at some point: no amount of money in the world would be able to help me do that.
It wouldn’t have spared me the frustration I felt when drawing after drawing ended up in the trash can. Nor would it have made me realize that I’d be better off focusing on athletes and portraits, which I enjoyed the most. And finally, it couldn’t have given me the courage to publish my work on social media. That can only be done with the classic ingredient you can’t buy: Our passion.

In Singapore, I attended a design conference at a university. The host asked a successful creative director what advice he could share for young people and students looking for their own path. He replied, “Ignore the money. Focus on what you love and enjoy doing, and the money will follow you.”

Instead of asking ourselves what we need to do to become millionaires, what would I (continue to) do if I were already a millionaire today?

When we see talent, we should address it

“You can’t read the label when you’re inside the bottle.”

Chris Do (The Futur)

Business marketer Chris Do is talking here about how we have trouble seeing our own problems and the accompanying, most straightforward solutions. We can only see the world from our own point of view. People who give the most valuable advice often fail in their own lives. For the same reason, advertising and design agencies hire other agencies to develop their own corporate design. We are just too close.

I remember my classmate Laura. We were about 13 or 14 years old and sitting next to each other. While she was diligently taking notes in her notebook, I noticed something. Laura underlined headings and important points. Nothing unusual, actually. But the strokes were extraordinary: every single one was perfect. As if drawn with a ruler. No wobble, no quiver. They were all bolt upright.

I was amazed and asked her to draw several strokes in my notebook. She looked perplexed and drew several lines, one below the other. They looked like they were printed out even when I looked closely. Her friend on the other side had been listening and now noticed it too and said, “That’s right, they’re absolutely straight! Huh, how do you do that?”. It was fascinating. 

But what surprised me the most was her reaction when I pointed it out. She was amazed at our enthusiasm, “Honestly?”. She had no idea of her gift. How could she not have known? Minutes later, as I turned back to my lesson, I saw Laura flipping through her notebook, examining her lines, and drawing more.

I don’t know what Laura is doing today. But somehow, I have the feeling that she still hadn’t forgotten that brief moment when she became aware of one of her talents. Just as I have not forgotten it.

When we recognize giftedness in people, we should let them know it. There’s a good chance they won’t have a clue about it, and who knows what direction their lives will take once they find out about it.

Our path is a lonely one

When we decide to go our own way, in search of our vocation, we quickly realize that nothing and no one can take over anything for us. Perhaps a teacher can show us a shortcut, or compassionate fellow human beings can hand us a walking stick and offer us shelter. But we have to take every step. We have to face the uncertainty alone. It very much resembles times of grief or lovesickness. Not our mothers, not our friends, not all the money in the world can make it disappear. We are on our own. And that’s perfectly fine.

Procrastination is not always bad (part 1)

Sure, the sooner the dishes or paying bills is done the better.

However, in the creative process, we often read about the burden of procrastination, the first stroke on the canvas. The first step is always the hardest, it is said.

But what does procrastination mean in creativity? It means to be afraid. Fear of our own failure. It means being afraid of disappointing ourselves when what we create doesn’t look, sound, or feel like we thought.

However, it also means that it is important to us. We want to do it well. We want to give it its due. Resistance knocks on the door whenever we care about something.

So as soon as the often frustrating state of procrastination and uncertainty arises, we can see it as our compass. We are on the right track.

Plan B simply doesn’t exist. We can only do plan A or either not do plan A

When we commit ourselves to doing something that will significantly change our lives, we automatically look for a safety hook. What if it doesn’t work out? Isn’t it comforting to know that we can always go back or have an alternative at hand so we don’t find ourselves destitute on the street?

When I decided to do illustration for a living, I had a plan B (more on that in a more detailed post). Even today, I think that plan B would have been a great success. The idea was good, the demand was high, the effort was manageable. For weeks, I worked on it, the product, the website, and the logo (all this while trying to get a foothold with my illustrations). But one crucial ingredient was missing, with which, however, everything stands and falls: passion.

It actually felt like work, unlike drawing and experimenting with colors and materials. So I deleted plan B from my life and was finally able to invest my gained time in plan A, the only plan that matters.

We feel fear precisely because something is important to us. Fear of the unknown is part of our journey. It has to be. After all, we’ve never been there before. Let’s set out without a safety rope, without a double bottom. Otherwise, we rob ourselves of this critical component on the way to our goal.