Every weekday (and some weekends), I get up and go to work as an advertising Art Director. I spend my days coming up with the concept and design for ads and then insure that pieces are executed according to my vision. I’m lucky to be able to use my gifts in my “9 to 5” and one of my favorite things about Love U Too is being able to use those exact same gifts for something close to my heart! What you see is 100% me: my ideas, my words, my design sense, my experiences, and my hard work! And since I am someone who loves to continuously learn new things, you’re also seeing those things put into practice.
One of those things is photography! I’ve wanted to learn photography for most of my life. Being an Art Director, I knew it wouldn’t be difficult to learn because it’s already a part of my job to direct and give feedback on photo shoots (as well as photo composites and retouching). But it can be expensive to get into. A few years ago, I searched for a point and shoot camera that had manual settings used with DSLR cameras: aperture, ISO and shutter speed. My plan was to get comfortable shooting with the cheaper camera before spending the money on a more expensive one. I spent $70 on a Canon SX150 and started practicing…a little. While working on the relaunch for Love U Too, I decided I wanted to change the look of the images* and use my own photos. So I started learning as much as I could about photography and my camera again. But the best thing I did was take my camera with me on (a much needed) vacation to San Diego. While I wandered Balboa Park’s museums and gardens, I made a point to practice as much as possible! I enjoyed myself and I actually got some great shots. In fact, I liked them so much that I ended up redoing some of the inspiration artwork** just so I could use them! With that in mind, check out the 3 reasons for why I encourage you to learn from your gifts!
You Can Get Better
Since Love U Too is completely controlled by me, I can make it exactly what I want and I have time to do it. I have time to do as many versions of a thing as I want until it feels right. I can experiment with new design styles and techniques. And then I can take that same practice and apply it to something I’m doing for my day job. There have been times when I completed a task faster than I had in the past or was able to teach someone else how to do it. There have been other times I knew exactly how to simply explain an idea or give feedback because I’d already done the same thing on my own!
The more you learn from your gifts the more you’ll get better at using them. And the better you get, the more you’ll want to keep learning. Carve out time to practice your gifts. Create personal projects for yourself. Find ways to be inspired by others with similar gifts as well as people completely different from you. The point is to challenge yourself to use your gifts in new ways!
You Can Get Help
In March 2014, I purchased the domain for Love U Too and that July, I completed the logo! Although I created everything myself, I’ve had friends and family help me work through my ideas. When it came to the logo, I realized I needed a good friend AND a talented Designer/Art Director to help me finalize it. No matter how great your are, you’ll never be able to fully get out of your own head to see something you create how others will see it. When you’re creating something for other people to consume, it’s important to “see” it through their eyes. After all, these are your customers! I am self-aware enough to know that logo creation is not one of my stronger gifts, and that’s okay. So I asked a friend and a fellow Art Director to look at my top four designs and help me narrow it to one to focus on perfecting for the final logo. Almost 2 years of growth (both professional and personal) later, I honestly believe this logo is the best thing I’ve ever created. I’m taken aback by it and I made it (with help)!
Don’t be afraid or too proud to ask for help! Help comes in different forms depending on your gift. Seek out inspiration: sometimes you don’t have to actually ask anyone. Research what you don’t know. Take a webinar or a class. Connect with people who are better than you. Ask for help: ask someone whose opinion and skill level you trust!
You Can Help Someone Else
Every so often, a company launches an ad campaign (or part of it) that offends a group of people***. That usually means an apology from the company and the ad being removed (or deleted). It also brings about a lot of discussion about the people in the room when it was created. People often ask the same question, “Nobody said anything? How does this keep happening? Were there no _______ people in the room?” Being a Black woman in my industry, here’s my answer: it depends on the room. I’m the only Black woman and Black PERSON in the majority of my meetings. I’m also often the only Person of Color in the room as well. When I’m in the room, I speak up. A couple years ago, a team came up with a campaign that featured people making triangles with their hands. As we all gathered around the wall to give and receive feedback, I said, “This is very similar to a Delta pyramid. Delta, as in Delta Sigma Theta, a very well-known Black sorority.” No one had heard of it so I decided to say it again later but the campaign didn’t sell anyway. The point is, we can only say something if we are in the room. For this reason, whenever I meet another Black person who expresses interest in working as a creative person but wanting the stability of a corporate job, I make a point to stop and talk to them about their interests, gifts and advertising!
Help someone else by encouraging them to learn from their gifts! Join Meetup groups. Join twitter chats. Talk to younger people or people who are considering a career change. There are often tons of people with the same gifts as you who are unaware of all the different ways they can use them. You never know who may need to hear what you have to say!
Note: I’ve been asked if I work in a creative field simply because of my hair colors so it’s a little easier for me to talk to people about considering a career in my industry without feeling like I’m giving unsolicited advice.
The more you learn from your gifts, you realize you’re doing your best. You realize you’re smarter than you thought, stronger than you imagined, and that your best changes everyday. And most importantly, you realize you feel better yourself for it!
How can you learn from your gifts today? Share in the comments below!
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*If you followed the site from the beginning, you may have noticed the change. I decided that all of the photos should be macro or closeups because I wanted the imagery to feel up close and personal!
**Check out You Are Enough. I shot that lily! 🙂
***There are a lot of ways to offend people. Instead of seeing someone’s concern as, “Ugh, more restrictions,” we should all take the time to listen and understand their point of view. You can’t please everyone but by no longer contributing to the existing behaviors of holding a group back, we can all grow and create more positive change.
Inspiration – Operation Love U – Love U List
Self Love • Tips
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