5 Ways to Crush a Creative Spirit

Len WilsonArtists, Creativity, Strategic Thinking3 Comments

To totally ruin your creative person’s morale and drive to succeed, simply employ these five simple techniques.


1. More Pop.

When offering feedback to an artist or designer, don’t take the time to understand why you don’t like something. Instead, make vague comments regarding your dissatisfaction. Tell the artist that it’s not right, but avoid constructive comments. Ask her to add in “more pop.”


2. “It’s easy.”

When approaching an artist or designer with a request or need for art or design, couch the request with unrealistic time estimates to soften the blow. Tell him “it’s easy.” Don’t ask him for his input about the project or just tell him the project is worth doing because it’s great. Just set low expectations by telling him the pain will be short lived, even if it’s a lie.


3. The Definition of Insanity.

When working with a creative spirit over a period of several weeks or months, ask for the same concept, over and over again, while expecting more creative and better results. For example, have the brilliant idea to do another infographic (the fourth this month), in the hopes that if you keep doing the same thing forever, you won’t have to beat a dead dog until it’s dead.


4. Camping.

Get a stool and set up camp in the creative’s workspace. Hover by her shoulder. Make helpful comments about font choice and color palette. Suggest alternate compositions, such as moving a photo to the upper right corner instead. Make sure to add a comment at least every minute or so. Between comments, much on something loud, like chips.


5. Comic Sans.

Make the designer use the best font in the history of the world, Comic Sans.


Can you think of any other ways to crush a creative spirit?


About the Author

Len Wilson

3 Comments on “5 Ways to Crush a Creative Spirit”

  1. There is a My Little Pony on just this subject:

    My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Season 1 Episode 14, “Suited for Success”. Specifically the two reprises of the musical number “Art of the Dress” (also viewable separately on YouTube).

    In the first reprise of “Art of the Dress”, Rarity (the fashion-designer unicorn) is designing and making original-design dresses for her five friends for a BIG formal event.

    (In a scene between the two reprises, she shows off her creations to the other five and they request changes. No, they want completely-new designs. Rarity is now working on commission…)

    In the second reprise, Rarity is working on commission and experiencing all five of the above, from clients who have no idea what they want (only what they don’t want) to “It has to be… 20% Cooler” (i.e. “More Pop”) to micromanaging clients (camping in her boutique) to unrealistic expectations. As the second reprise continues, her voice and mane get more and more frazzled until at the end of the number she collapses.

    (She subsequently has to go with the second set for her resume presentation to a fashion-industry bigwig. It does not go over well. Have you ever seen a unicorn have a breakdown?)
    Whoever wrote that episode KNOWS what it’s like to be an artist working on commission.

      1. Actually, not a parent. Never married. Just a middle-aged nerd who recently got hooked on Lauren Faust’s reboot of MLP. Like the classics of children’s literature, this incarnation of colorful cartoon ponies is demonstrating all-ages appeal as well as sparking the largest wave of fan-made creativity I have ever seen — original art, original music, YouTube animations (both original and mash-up), original fiction covering the entire spectrum from silly to serious.

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