LISA MALTBY
LONDON BASED ILLUSTRATOR & LETTERING ARTIST

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Welcome to my blog where I post about all things creative, from my latest food illustrations, design work and hand lettering doodles, to articles about freelancing and creativity. I hope you like my posts.

5 things creative people hate to hear

You’ve got too much time on your hands: 5 things creative people hate to hear…

It’s strange how a choice of career can provoke so much reaction in some people, as though a creative job is somehow inferior. If you’ve ever been subject to any of these patronising comments you are not alone! Here are the top ten things we creatives hate to hear. 

1. You’ve got too much time on your hands.

Creatives just spend their days colouring in for fun, apparently. If an Accountant went on extra financial training or if a Physiotherapist did extra reading about muscle strains would you tell them they had too much time on their hands? Probably not. Actually, personal work is extremely important in order to develop your craft as a creative and make sure you are coming up with new ideas. It makes sure your paid work is all the more inventive and original. It’s interesting that if a creative invests extra time into developing personal work it’s as though they’ve done something on a par with playing Tidilywinks… which leads me to my next point…

2. Well it’s hobby, right?

Would you mind just mocking me up a quick logo when you get a moment? You know, because you just love to do free work in your spare time. After all, it’s a hobby right?

No, it’s my job.

Creatives work very hard and expect to get paid for it because their designs have taken years of training, expensive materials, design programmes and courses. You wouldn’t expect a hairdresser to cut your hair for free on a weekend would you? It always surprises me the amount of people who ask for free work and then are surprised when you turn it down. Of course, there are certain exceptions and we all like to help out every now and again, but when people presume you’ll do work for free they are basically degrading what creative people do which makes them feel, well, not like being very generous with their ‘free time’.

3. I love your work, but could you you do it a bit more like Quentin Blake?

This is on a par with asking a plumber round to quote on having carpets fitted. What such people are basically doing is asking you to be someone else, have someone else’s vision and style. Of course I love Quentin Blake’s work and he might influence what I do but it would be very unprofessional of me to copy him. What people are essentially asking is for you to compromise your integrity. 

4. What is your hourly rate? 

In other words, “can you tell me what you charge so I can work out how long I think it should take you and then keep track on what you should be charging?”. I once got asked to design a logo in an hour because the client didn’t want to pay more than my hourly rate. Of course I can do a logo in an hour but it will undoubtably be substandard (and I will not be putting my name to it!). The thing with creativity is that it is more than the time spent on it - you are asking for a service; to be on call when you have changes or need printing advice, to have the knowledge to know about materials to use and not to mention the costs of these. On some occasions an idea will come straight away and other times it will take a lot longer because that’s how creative thinking works. I wouldn’t expect someone to pay me double just because it’s taken slightly longer, but all jobs need to take this into account.  

5. OOOH aren’t you creative?!

to which I reply “OOOH aren’t you dull?!” Just kidding, but it makes me chuckle when people say this, as if to say ‘get you, you jammy git, you get to create nice pictures for a living. Go out and get a proper job.” Some of the most creative people are the hardest working people I know. Having an unstructured job means they also work all hours - evenings and weekends. A large proportion of what they do isn’t even creative - hours chasing Art Directors and Buyers, self promoting and selling. Artists are business men and women, dealing with clients, sorting accounts, chasing payments. They never get a day off. Obviously this applies to anyone self employed but please let’s not make out that creative people have their head in the clouds.

At the end of the day we all just want to do something we love. Let’s not make people feel bad just because they have chosen a very rewarding (risky and difficult!) career path. It is rewarding because they put the work in. Here’s to hard working creatives, keep up the colouring in ;)