The Creativity Debate

Talent or Practice – What Matters More?

A variety of perspectives on the origins of greatness.

Not a “Born versus Made” Issue

Donna Farrugia

Donna Farrugia is executive director of The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service placing interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals with a variety of firms. For more information, visit creativegroup.com

At The Creative Group, we talk with hundreds of highly skilled creative professionals daily who come to us for help finding project and full-time work. Through these interactions, we’ve observed one enduring trend: While some creative professionals may possess a natural talent for creative work, it is those individuals who continue to practice and develop their skills sets, no matter how naturally “gifted” they are, who enjoy the most satisfying careers. Particularly in the current environment, where technology is changing not only how creatives work but also what they are working on, it’s critical to keep up with industry trends and learn how to use new marketing channels to remain innovative and marketable.

So, what are these skills for success? And what do hiring managers seek when recruiting new members for their creative teams? According to research for our annual Salary Guide, those with digital expertise are in greatest demand right now. As companies of all sizes and industries invest more dollars in online initiatives, they seek professionals who can help build dynamic websites and social media pages, develop effective marketing strategies, and build positive buzz around new product or service offerings. As such, mastering the latest design software and new media trends is crucial.

But hiring managers seek more than just tech savvy – soft skills also are crucial for success as a creative professional today, since creatives are increasingly tasked with solving business problems. Through research we conducted for The Creative Team of the Future project, which explores key trends shaping the creative profession and how industry practitioners can prepare for upcoming changes, we found that problem-solving skills will become indispensable. Those who can conduct research, observe and analyze customer behavior, brainstorm multiple options, and weigh choices to determine the best solution to a business problem will be highly sought. 

Strong collaboration and communication skills also will be important as work teams become more geographically dispersed. Creative professionals who can work with colleagues, freelancers, clients, vendors and other business contacts in different locations –and communicate using different technological tools – will be in the best position for advancement in the coming years.

So in the end, it’s not really a “born versus made” issue when it comes to creative viability. Although some people appear to be born with a great amount of creativity and the ability to come up with innovative ideas, those skills must be nurtured for people to reach their full potential. In this ever-evolving industry, professionals at any stage of their career must continually keep pace with new developments and know how to communicate effectively to thrive now and in the future.

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