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Why You Should Put Out More Creative Work

Hey friends, and welcome back to the Alex Makes VR podcast where we seem to do everything but talk about VR. Isn't that the irony of this show? In today's episode, we are going to be talking about why you should be putting out more creative work, especially if you're in the VR industry.

Read on for the full transcription or listen to the podcast episode here

So why should you be putting out more creative work? Let me tell you what inspired me to record this episode. So as a lot of you know, who've been listening to the podcast for a while, I am a massive Gary Vee fan. He's a marketing kind of expert, he runs one of the biggest creative agencies in the world. A traditional (well not traditional because it's more social media than anything) but he runs a traditional advertising agency, if you will, like doing the big TV adverts and social media campaigns and things for some of the biggest brands in the world. So he has this interesting pulse on content and creativity, right and he has this really interesting philosophy around creativity. He has always encouraged people to chuck their perfectionism at the door and just create more. And it's interesting, right? Because the way he frames it, is actually super simple. And it every time I hear it, it really rings a bell with me, right? Really kind of like hits a nerve and makes me go - oh, crap. He's so right… which is that creativity is totally subjective. Just like my taste in what I like as content, is probably not the same as what you like, and is not the same as what your dad likes, is not the same as what your nephew likes, is not the same as the person sitting next to you on the metaphorical bus likes; everyone has their own taste when it comes to creative. Everyone has their own and their own personal kind of choices of how they like taste and design, the way that they like to consume media, and the way they like to be taught.

So why then, as creative people, do we sit around waiting for things to be perfect before we put them out into the world? Now there is the argument that sometimes when you've got an idea for something so original, and it's so personal to you, that you like the process of working on it and perfecting it, although we all know perfectionism is an abstract concept, because you will never ever reach perfect because what is perfect again? It’s totally subjective. And to yourself, you definitely know, there's a famous quote, actually, that I can't remember who said it, but the quote is that ‘art is never finished, only abandoned” and that is so true. You will never get to a point where you're 100% happy with the creative work you're doing but at some point, though, you have to get it out. And Gary V's philosophy is that you should be putting out more work. Just put out all of the work possible. If you're a musician, put out a song every day. If you're an artist, put out a you know, a painting every day. If you're a video creator, make a new edit every single week, like you should be putting out stuff quicker, so that you can see what you like, and see what kind of feedback you're getting. Oh that was the point I was going to make - hang on, let me rewind when I was talking about, you know, working on projects that mean a lot to you. Of course, there is an argument to be made that if you're making something purely for yourself, if you're making creative work that's purely to scratch your own itch, to satisfy your own taste, that’s kind of a different story. But I think most of us in the creative world, we create work yes for ourselves, but we also want it to go out there. We want people to connect with it. We want it to spark conversation, and discussion and potentially, to kind of start a conversation within our community or whatever it might be. Let's face it, we care what other people think. And we can try and pretend and kid ourselves that we don’t, but absolutely we do. We care what other people think. And to some extent maybe that's why we hold ourselves back. Maybe that's why we want to tell ourselves that we are a perfectionist, because it has to be perfect and if I put it out into the world and it's not perfect that's going to, you know damage my reputation. But it’s totally subjective! So you should put out more work consistently, so that you can get that feedback from the very people that you are trying to reach with your work. You should put out, especially in this day and age, where chances are, that your content might not even be seen by that many people because an algorithm is dictating who sees your work. And so if you're wanting to get eyeballs on it, you need to make a lot of different work, to see what works, to see what people are responding to it, to see what people are kind of commenting on and going ‘oh my God, this really spoke to me like, oh, wow, this is so impressive. This is so cool. I love this’. It’s funny, actually, because as I'm thinking about this, this week on Facebook, I saw a post in one of the 360 groups. Sainsbury’s, the food supermarket in the UK have done a really clever little social media clip using tiny planet videos. So it's like a point of view kind of style film mixed with like tiny planet. And it was so original, it was one of the best reframed 360 pieces that I've seen in a long, long time. It's just, it was so well done. I wish I knew, the company that created it. I just thought, there’s so many 360 creators out there, that probably could have contributed to inspiring that style. And if people aren't willing to go out and just create and put things out and trial and error and get that feedback, get the conversation going, how on earth are you going to know what's going to stick? How on earth are you going to know what works?

Maybe the point isn't that you want to reach audiences, maybe the point is that you want to do your work the way you want to do it. And that's absolutely fine, each to their own. But you better not be sitting around bitching about the fact that audiences aren't paying attention. Because how on earth are they supposed to pay attention if you've only put one thing out in a year, do you know what I mean? And this is the thing, I'm totally guilty of this for a long time, like literally up until this year, I put my perfectionism on a pedestal. I felt like, if I'm going to do something, I really need to do it really well, because I feel a lot of pressure, I have this image in my head of what I want to be known for, and what I want to be seen as and I don't feel comfortable putting stuff out that I don't consider to be of really good quality. And then it hit me that actually, by doing that I'm actually being really selfish, because I know that I've got a lot of ideas in my head that I want to share. And I want to share it with the world, and if I waited, like for example, this podcast, if I'd waited for it to be perfect, If I'd waited for the circumstances to be right, in order to start doing this, to have the best microphone, to have the best audio quality to you know, have the perfect sound engineer on board to like mix everything perfectly or to have the kind of best known podcasting format of guests every single week, I just wouldn't have done it. I wouldn't have done it. And I wouldn't be sharing ideas with the world and are so grateful to be doing this. I'm so grateful. But actually all I'm doing, is pacing around my living room speaking to my iPhone. That's literally what's happening here. Isn't that amazing? Because the thing is, it's like, maybe there will be some people that go - ‘yeah, not really into this podcast, because it's not quite for me’ and that's totally fine because it's subjective. Again, creativity is subjective.

But let's not let creativity and our idea of perfectionism for our creativity hold us back anymore. Let's put more work out into the world, especially in the VR and 360 industry because we are literally trying to lift this medium off the ground. Same goes for AI with the the explosion of popularity with filters and AR kind of seeping slowly into the mainstream. We're seeing it crop up on loads of different apps and even on Amazon, they've started showing kind of AR features where you can see the product in your house before you've even bought it. And it's like, for us, we're building this, we're building this industry, we're building this creative language from the ground up. So we need to be putting stuff out. Because whereas some people might think - ‘oh, no, because that might damage it, if you put it out too much out, and it's all crap, it's going to turn people off.’ But no, because actually, we need to put out 10 things to see that one thing that sticks, and then we can build on that. Rather than take 10 months to build one thing that doesn't land. Do you know what I mean? I feel like we owe it to our industry to ourselves, to just put stuff out, put more out and see what response we get. And weirdly, it kind of changes your idea of what perfectionism and creativity is, when you start to see things through that lens.

It's interesting, I look at the people that I follow a lot on Instagram and it's a real mishmash of what I like. They don’t all look the same. I follow so many different accounts. And they all speak to me in different ways. The creativity is totally subjective, the creativity is so different between all of these accounts, but I really enjoy it because it's their distinct style. And they've constantly experimented and chopped and changed with that style. And I love that. So it's funny that I appreciate that in other people, but then I'm not doing it myself. That seems so stupid, doesn't it? And I have a feeling that there'll be some of you listening to this, that this is really resonating with. So it's the same principle of the whole fail and fail fast thing, right? You've got to put out ,you’ve got to try new content, you've got to try new things.

I remember when I first started experimenting with 360, I started experimented with super weird shots and I would just like try different perspectives. And I remember my brother's wedding, I hung a 360 camera from a chandelier at the top and it gave this really interesting kind of bird's eye view of the wedding. And it's a super surreal kind of angle because it's quite haunting actually, because it's almost like you're a ghost, hovering above the wedding. But it's because I was in that phase with 360 where I just wanted to try everything. I remember doing the same thing when 180 became a thing, and I remember I was gallivanting around Europe with Ben Claremont and Peter from Little Planet B. I was just like trying loads of different weird stuff and I would show it to people that were on the 360 walks or I would send it home and like you know, show my family because they all have a pair of those little cardboard glasses. I just loved experimenting. Because again, how are you going to know what works if you don't not only make this stuff, but then put it out to get that feedback?

So I personally think it's really important for us to be experimenting and putting lots of stuff out, too see what sticks because for our industry (more than ever) we need people paying attention and we need to not just sit in our little comfort box and wait for something to be quote unquote perfect. We need to respect that we're building a whole new medium and developing a storytelling and cinematic and creative language for an unlimited amount of people but all will have different creative tastes. Again, this is one of the reasons why I even made Keyed Allike, my first VR drama, in the first place was because when I came into VR, there was no character driven dramas or ROM coms. It just wasn’t being done and I wanted to experiment in a format that I liked and and to be fair, like one of the biggest things that I wish I had more time to experiment with, is going out and doing some of those mini dramas, just to test, just because it's not being done. And there's a whole audience, there's a whole demographic out there who potentially would like to come to VR, would like to see things in a VR headset, but they just don't see any content that's for them. And that's because there's not enough experimenting going on. There's not enough creative work being put out. This is the thing, I absolutely hold my hands up and say I'm also guilty of this but you know, I'm trying my best, I'm trying to be a bit more experimental and as you know, I’m trying new things on social media and putting out these podcast episodes and trying different kinds of ways to communicate things and different ideas. And I hope it's helping, it seems like it's helping some of you. But if I can encourage you to do anything, it's to just remember, the creativity is subjective. And unless you're doing a really personal project that you actually have no expectations of, to kind of, you know, resonate a certain way, if you are a diehard artist who says ‘this is my vision, and I put it out into the world, and then I am free of it and I have no interest in what people think of it’ then I'm not really speaking to you. But also, god bless you, I wish I had that kind of self confidence in my work. But for everyone else listening - do more creative work, and put it out into the world. Get that feedback, and let that inform your creative process. Because that's exactly what I'm doing with this. I'm not necessarily doing it with VR right now, because mainly the projects going on in the background are quite big and time consuming, and it would cost a lot of money to experiment with them, but with this social media stuff, I am loving experimenting, I'm loving going fast, and not worrying about, you know my own version of what creativity and what perfectionist perfectionism. I'm just going speed, speed over everything because creativity is subjective.

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