Regardless on one’s creative philosophy, it all comes down to passion and responsibility.

August 6, 2013

“With great passion comes great responsibility.”

Recently, I was asked about my creative philosophy. Namely, do I have one? Seems like a reasonable question. Seems like something an Executive Creative Director ought to have.

Well, I’ve had many. Which, if you think about it, is as it should be. As creative professionals, we must remain open-minded and forever teachable. For us, one-way streets are typically dead ends.

Look at the term, “creative professional.” It’s almost an oxymoron, isn’t it? There’s tension there. The right brain (creativity) and the left brain (professional). But that’s the gig. That’s what we do. Therefore, any philosophy we have must strike a balance between passion and responsibility. Said another way, we are both craftsmen and salesmen. We’ve gotta do both.

Both ends burning…

Your exact philosophy will be a function of percentages. I’d say my current philosophy is 60% passion to 40% responsibility. Those numbers change over time. Back in the day, I’m sure my split was more like 80/20. But then I started facing clients. I had to mitigate my obsession with winning awards and other personal achievements. I had to compromise. I had to listen. I became responsible-ish.

It is important to note that while passion is the fun part -and closer to what people think about when they think about creativity- it is often destructive in too large a dose. Without empathy for the business, even the most brilliant creative person will be stifled… often by his own hubris. Obviously, I don’t need to discuss the unduly “responsible” creative. They are hacks. To me, mortgaging one’s passion to the hilt is both sad and unmanageable.

While percentages vary, I’m a big believer in “responsible passion.”

In my next post, I’m going to talk about staying creatively fit and remaining relevant, which, in my view, is a critical precursor to any creative philosophy.


5 Responses to “Regardless on one’s creative philosophy, it all comes down to passion and responsibility.”

  1. A good, and relatively unusual, acknowledgement of the necessary balance between passion and responsibility, thank you.

    I think, however, that the creative business – particularly big agency brand advertising – has done itself and its clients harm over the years by largely seeing this not as a balance but as a split. You’re either creative, or you’re a hack. It would be more honest, and better for both our mental health and our work, if we acknowledge upfront that our ideas are used to sell stuff. Ours is a distinctly commercial art – what’s wrong with being responsible to that? It is also one (if done well) of making real human connections, an effort worthy of anyone’s creative passion.

  2. Janel said

    I agree with your ideology behind ‘creative professionalism’. However, the entire web is fair clogged with it these days. Thanks for the great post. Gives a new perspective on an old thought for me.

  3. […] last post was about “responsible passion” as creative philosophy. I wrote that whatever the philosophy a creative professional has it must […]

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