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Advice from one Artist to Another

September 2, 2016

If your career is anything close to something you love and are passionate about – you can call your work an art. As a marketing assistant, I spend most of my days creating. Flyers, proposals, conference programs -  I always find myself staring at a blank document, eager to create something new. 

Tara Sophia Mohr, author of Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create and Lead, wrote an awesome article called “Three Pieces of Advice to Writers (And to Anyone Creating Anything).”  Her article really resonated with me. Doing marketing for a Civil Engineering company is all about creation. Our marketing team is creating opportunities for projects. In turn, these projects give our engineers new chances to put their knowledge and analytics into their art of civil design. Below are her 3 pieces of advice and how I see them come to fruition in my everyday work life. 

1. “Remember that feedback never tells you anything about you. It tells you about the people giving the feedback.” 
When writing a proposal or preparing a visual document for marketing, you always want to consider your audience. Every audience prefers different visuals and layouts. You have some people who like a lot of white space and clean cut lines. You have some people who like abstract colors and hidden design. The key is knowing who you are working with. When given feedback, note the comments about specific design. I can guarantee you’ll see a pattern. 

The engineers often have me help them with comment sheets. After creating plans, they send the plans back for review and the client sends back comments that range from “fix this” to “redo that”.  The engineers know how their specific clients like things done. Working with difference cities and counties, the feedback is always aligned with the regulations of the county and once they too are familiar with the regulations, their work is less likely to be commented on. Knowing these things helps the engineers to do their job more effectively. 

2. “Ultimately, there is no one who your book (or other creative endeavor) will matter to more than you.” 
I can be a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my work. I like to make sure it looks exactly how I envisioned it. I’ve always liked to think it’s because I want my work to satisfy and be over the expectation of the person I am designing material for, but in all honesty, I want it to look amazing because its mine.   

From an engineering standpoint, my colleagues work is what keeps our business a float. The engineering market is a small one and their work is their name. If a bridge is burnt with one company, it could easily have a domino effect in this industry.  Our engineers take great pride in their work – if they didn’t, they wouldn’t have work to do. 

3. “Great creations come from the combination of two opposite things: 
        1. practicing your craft daily, or close to daily, and 
        2. stepping away from your craft and living life.”


Cheers to the weekend. I love marketing. I love it so much; I often spend my free time thinking about how I’m going to design this or draft that.  That love has allowed me to practice and work on perfecting my skill. 5 days out of the week, I am doing marketing. But those 2 days that I am not, I’m able to see how much marketing has sculpted my life. I enjoy coloring and visiting museums on the weekend. I admire flyers on my walk through downtown and graffiti on the walls of an alley. When I take the time to step away from my work, I get to admire others work, and it inspires me. It gives me new ideas for new projects. The balance of practicing marketing and stepping away from practicing to admire others marketing, that’s what keeps the creations coming. 

-Danielle Lewis 

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