If no one takes your business card (a note to creative students)
I've been to see my first degree show of the year - a room full of brilliantly creative projects, lots of inventive ideas and keen-as-mustard students. It made me think back to my own degree show and how I felt as people flicked through my portfolio and gathered around my work. I remember tentatively watching by the sidelines as people stopped to discuss my projects. Please pick up my business card, I thought. Please give me a chance.
See, I know what it's like to have all that passion and drive to do something creative with your life - to have a portfolio full of ideas and a head full of dreams. I know how it feels when people stop for a moment and then just walk away; when they don't flick through the project that took you a hundred and twenty hours or notice the idea you had that was the best thing since Paul Rand. I know how it feels when they don't even pick up your business card.
Looking back I relied too heavily on chance - clinging to stories where others had been head-hunted; picked out. I hoped that would be me. Sure, I knew I was a little rough round the edges – that I had a lot to learn, but I honestly thought that someone would see all this vision I had and that they'd see the potential for something bigger from this little portfolio and a few prints hung up on the wall.
But that didn't happen.
And yeh, a few people picked up my business card but as the weeks went by no one got in touch. And maybe you're one of the lucky ones - maybe someone picked you out; headhunted you. Maybe someone gave you a chance or mentioned your name on Twitter. Maybe you got an award.
But if you didn't, don't lose heart.
It can be really hard when you've just put everything into your degree show to have to go out into the world and start again - to seek new contacts and push more doors. It's easy to place everything on three years of work – to feel you deserve something from your blood, sweat and tears - as though the world has been waiting for you to emerge from your college doors. (Cue Rocky music)
But if your name is not Rocky Balboa, don't give up.
Don't lose heart if you receive a dozen rejection letters. Don't give up if you don't get any email responses in the first six months. Don't count yourself a failure if you've not won a D&AD or AOI award.
Don't worry if no one picks up your business card.
I'm not going to go into details in this post as to how I got to have a creative career or how much money I earn from making stuff, but the point is that I am doing so - I'm making a living out of being creative. And although I may still be finding my feet in many ways, although it's taken time, and despite the mountains I've had to climb and the rivers of mistakes I've had to swim, I'm doing this and I'm enjoying what I'm doing. No one gives a crap about my first business card. No one remembers it. At no point do I think that I should have done a better design or changed my whole degree show. At no point do I look back and think it wasn't worth while.
I'm not sure why I am passionate about writing a whole blog post about why it doesn't matter sweet F-A if no one picks up your business card. But it doesn't. Trust me, it doesn't. All that matters is that you don't let your passion dry up, that you keep pushing doors, that you keep hold of your ideas and keep being a little crazy. That you hold on to what you're about and don't lose your soul trying to palm off business cards.
Stick at it. Graft. Put your heart and soul into what you do. Be up for a little constructive feedback. Don't take offence too easily. Be yourself. Learn. Sing the Rocky theme tune if it helps.
But for God's sake, please don't go home and count your business cards.