“You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And, then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail”
Charlie Parker said that. He is an American saxophonist who changed music by inventing a new style: bebop. It is a good starting point for what we look for in co-workers.
These are the basics. If you are a designer you have to know your programs. If you are a developer you have to know your tools. You get the idea. This isn’t the place to learn the foundations. Things are too fast-paced.
Once you know your instrument, you have to master the music. A designer needs to know the design landscape, its history. Writers need to be intimate with the pop and high culture touchstones. In addition, anyone working on a project has to be intimate with the client’s business strategy. What we make has to work for them. This is essential. We have to be able to speak the same language. To work on the same plane.
And you need to be able to throw that stuff out the window and work. Doing the creative work required means you forget that you are using a tool, forget all you know about your field. You have be able to make and make and make. That might mean generating hundreds of names to find something that works. It might mean creating the same G over and over until it feels right.
If Charlie Parker had lived longer, I am convinced he would have added a fourth idea. Like Miles Davis, he would have understood the need to evolve, to keep learning, to keep pushing. You will never be finished, you will never master your craft. Once you can wail, you learn something new, something different. That adds dimension to your work.
There is a common distinction in agencies like ours that separates creatives from account/business development people. It is nonsense. This same logic applies to any position available. You have to know your tools. You have to know the landscape. And you have to be able to let those variables settle into the background so your creativity can solve the complex problems we face every day. If you don’t believe that, you should try being an account manager sitting between a designer and the client. Navigating that relational tangle takes creativity.
If that is you, bring it.