In my journey as an artist-turned-designer, turned entrepreneur, I’ve learned quite a bit about getting things done and making ideas happen. There are certain people who stand out and are constantly making waves in the industry. They’re churning out project after project, working for big clients, doing memorable and meaningful work, and generally making stuff happen on a regular basis. I like to call these people Weapons of Mass Creation. In fact, I’ve spent a lot of time organizing an event that gathers these creative visionaries in one place called the Weapons of Mass Creation Fest.
These people are good. They’re a cut above the rest. But what makes them good? What separates them from the mediocre majority in our creative business? I’ve narrowed it down to four personalities and traits that a Weapon of Mass Creation embodies. Try to find these personalities within you. We all have them inside us; we just might have to find them and bring them out.
According to Wikipedia, “’Artist’ is a descriptive term applied to a person who engages in an activity deemed to be an art. An artist also may be defined unofficially as, ‘a person who expresses themselves through a medium.’ The word is also used in a qualitative sense of, a person creative in, innovative in, or adept at, an artistic practice.” Notice those keywords: creative, innovative, and adept. I’ve even seen the word “artist” being tossed around when referring to someone skilled at marketing, or influencing people: The “art of persuasion” or the “art of picking up chicks.” By that definition, it’s safe to say that art has a lot to do with using your intuition, or your ability to figure things out when there isn’t clear path to the solution. That’s what makes us artists special.
As you get into commercial art, you’re making art with a purpose. Your art is supposed to help sell a product, define a brand’s identity, or evoke specific emotions in your audience. When you start making art for other people, your self-expressiveness gets put aside a little bit and now you’re trying to solve a problem for someone else. This is usually where the word “design” comes in. You’re crafting a solution to a creative problem and sometimes that involves drawing pictures or otherwise creating “art.”
So what’s the difference between artists and designers? I’ve heard some designers regard artists as self-indulgent and pretentious. And artists regard designers as snooty know-it-alls who lack empathy and feeling. The truth is we are BOTH. We are constantly shifting between the self-expressive artist and the critical designer. It’s best to embrace the fact that these are two characteristics that make up who we are. If you want to look at it from another angle, an artist is who you are, and design is what you do.
This is the part of us that makes our ideas come to life. In literal sense, a developer is the person who makes the product, codes the website, or programs the application. They make stuff work. We all have this aspect in us in some form or another. When you’re able to design your own website, code it, and launch it in the same week or you ideate, conceptualize, and outsource the development, you’re still bringing ideas to life. This part of our personality works wonders in tandem with being an artist and a designer. Not only can we make something look great, but we can make it work. However, this is where a lot creative people get stuck. They lack the skills to code/produce the end product themselves or they haven’t honed their leadership skills to outsource and build a team. This is where the next aspect of a WMC comes in.
The last traits belong to the entrepreneur or the dreamer. This is the part of our personality that makes us want to do things on our own terms and our own way. Have you ever felt you had a great idea for a new site or new product? Have you ever felt like something was missing in your community or in your life that you wanted to step up and fill it? That’s the visionary part of the entrepreneur as it pertains to being a Weapon of Mass Creation. Lots of people just end there; they are full of ideas and never make them happen. A WMC takes action on their ideas and starts developing a plan to make it happen. If they can’t do it all themselves, they recruit others to join their cause. They are leaders and inspire others. This is an essential part of being a Weapon of Mass Creation.
Bringing It All Together
These personality elements and traits work together. You’ll find that you may be more of an artist or designer than a developer or entrepreneur, and that’s okay. It’s rare to see someone who is good at everything! The trick is to be aware of your strengths and weakness and find others to complement you. Collaborating and working together help our bigger ideas actually take shape. I believe good things happen when ideas and talents are shared within the community, and that’s why I’ve created WMC Fest: to bring people together for that very purpose. The event will feature inspiring talks from 20 different leaders in graphic design and business. There will also be 20 incredible bands and a jaw dropping art/design show. To find out more about the WMC movement and festival, go to www.wmcfest.com.
Jeff Finley is one of three partners at Go Media. An Ohio native, he has a background in illustration and CG animation and has a passion for marketing, social media, and building communities around brands. He’s also founder of the Weapons of Mass Creation Fest, a premier art/design/music event in the Midwest. He’s been designing professionally since 2004 and got his start working with punk rock bands and indie clothing brands.