Advice, opinions and tutorials on all things digital marketing.

Blue Collar Creativity: The hard work of delivering innovation. | Bluefish Digital Marketing

The toughest part about what we do as digital marketers is to constantly strike the fine line between creativity and simple hard work. We are equally pleased to have clients who refer to us as “…their guys who get things done” (like some second cousin who’s in the mafia) while others praise us for thinking and delivering creativity beyond what they ever imagined.

Lean too far toward getting stuff done, and you’re a commodity day laborer. Go too far to the creative side and you become those “fluffy artsy guys” who are useless in the minds of many of your clients. (Please note, that I realize that I’m using innovation and creativity here interchangeably. Im grouping them into the bucket that my CPA would call “thinking” rather than “doing.”)

Shantanu Narayen, President and CEO of adobe posted a blog yesterday that indicates that our obsession to data is what’s killing off our creativity.

“We know more, we do more, we’re more connected. We have real-time access to content and information we never could have imagined, said Narayen. “And yet, I’m concerned that lost in this rising tide of data is the essence of what makes us human: Creativity. It goes far beyond the traditional world of art and music. Creativity is the essence of invention and inspiration, and it is what fuels our economy.”

A study conducted by Adobe shows that 8 out of 10 people think that creativity is the key to driving economic growth, but that same study indicates that only 1 out of 4 people believe they are reaching their creative potential.  80% think they know the answer, but only 25% are striving for it? Seems crazy, but it the truth.

Narayen goes on to talk about how our educational system lacks the proper structure to encourage us to think creatively.  But the bigger point is that productivity…the act of actually getting things done…is what is trumping creativity.

Results vs Art?

While we focus on hard numbers and ROI, the vivid imaginations we had as kids –  the one that seamlessly transformed old blankets and boxes into spectacular palaces worthy of the knights and princesses we were – are left to atrophy.

This is not to say that we want to just make art for art’s sake. We are not in that business, and neither are our clients. However, when you look to commercially successful people who consistently deliver creatively, you find that they are constantly moving, constantly striving and constantly looking to build on their success and take their  ideas forward.

The folks at Walt Disney have said, “Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

The “gift” of creativity –  whether you are an animator or data base admin – has to be nurtured, perused, chased down, beaten up and then forced into submission.

It is a random example, but I feel like the perfect blend of these two elements can be found in  Harvey Keitel’s character, Winston Wolf, from Quentin Tarrintio’s 1994 classic film, Pulp Fiction.  Wolf is the man who gets things done, but he does it with style.

The Wolf is not above hosing blood and brain fragments off two murdering thugs, or patching a beat up car with blankets. But when he does it, he’s just arrived in his Acura NSX (turst me, it was an extremely cool car at the time) and he does it in a tuxedo. Getting his hands dirty, but doing it with style.

Getting Freaky with Your Ideas.

While not a huge Lady Gaga fan, she had a great quote that describes how we all need to approach our creative.

“When you make music or write or create, it’s really your job to have mind-blowing, irresponsible, condomless sex with whatever idea it is you are writing about at the time.”

Yeah, it is a little graphic, and if you are visual like me, you probably don’t want that image in your head for too long, but her point couldn’t be more succinct. Having the breakthrough idea isn’t the end. It’s the beginning.

We owe it to ourselves to take these creative seeds and grow them into a harvestable crop.  And while creativity has too often come to be seen as the realm where skinny jeans, black-framed glasses and ironic facial hair rule the day from a coffee shop; farming is about as blue-collar as you can get.

(Another good article here about fostering a culture of innovation from UX magazine: –