The humble creative


You’re stuck, but you’re a professional so this is a peculiar situation, isn’t it?

You know how to write the words, or move the brush, or play the tune. You’ve done it at least one hundred times in the past. So why are you stuck?

One reason, the most common reason, is because you’re afraid. Afraid of what comes next. Afraid of failing. Afraid to set out on your own path and explore new possibilities.

Another reason, the less common but slightly more dangerous one, is that you’ve escaped humility. As a result, you’ve lost touch with what it means to be creative.

Creativity is about not knowing. It’s about embracing the fact that you know less than you think you do. It’s about finding new answers, even when you’re convinced you know them all.

When we’re humble, creativity is easy: it’s asking questions and pursuing the answers.

On the other hand: when we are convinced that we already know the answers, that our work is as good as it gets, that we’re the expert and we’re the ones who do it right, we miss an opportunity to do our best work.

We get stuck as a result.

We’ve convinced ourselves that we should know the answer to any question, the solution to any problem. So when we encounter an even slightly unfamiliar situation (where we can improvise and pursue creative answers) we stutter, we flop about, and we do fail.

If you want to be the best creative you can be, stay humble.

Sparked by a recent reminder in my own life to be humble with my work.

Read this next: To be more creative, question what you know you know

Some thoughts on creativity for your Thursday afternoon.

Over the past six years, since the dawn of the Great Recession, we have seen the quality and quantity of music programs plummet. School districts in Florida, Kansas and Arizona have scaled their programs back to the extreme. In 2009, California diverted $109 million from music programs, resulting in closed music departments across half of California’s 10,000-plus public schools. Educators in New York City estimate that up to 85% of public school students have not received adequate musical instruction by the time they reach high school.

The crisis in music education is real. And there’s scientific evidence that we’re depriving our kids of tremendous cognitive benefits as a result.

Show this science to anyone who thinks we don’t need to teach our kids music (via micdotcom)

Let’s be real here: we’re sitting in our office here, gearin’ up for one of the biggest acts to date: Grammy winners Kronos Quartet, and we’re really looking for promotions that are out of this world. 

We’re stumped.

Until, that is, we turn to Jake, our all-star intern with an all-star talent for music (flute beatboxing, to be exact), and we think: hey, why not? Let’s have some fun with this. Let’s talk about our own love of music as we await Kronos’s performance.

So here’s what Jake had to say of music:

I love music. For me, there’s no complicated reason: I just enjoy it. It’s so pure and simple. Something all people can enjoy. I’m bad with words, but it’s just that simple, you know? Music is what makes me feel most alive.

And here’s Jon, senior marketing assistant and avid guitar player:

Music is everything to me. During breaks in between aquarters at UCSD, it’s a tradition for my younger brother and some close friends to get together and jam. A percussionist by trade, I started drumming at the age of 10. Drumming made sense as a first instrument simply because I was that baby drummer you always hear about. The one who would grab his mom’s kitchen pots, a few spoons, and make noise for hours. I picked up guitar when I was 15 and enjoy indie pop-esque chords. It’s a great outlet to destress and unwind! 

Your turn: what does music do for you?

Some silly scraps from our office: (1) gearin’ up for an exciting application season to add to our marketing team, (2) pokin’ a little fun at our senior marketing assistant, “Papa” Jon (one thing’s for sure: he may be a lil saucy at times, but he sure won’t give you any half-baked ideas on how to run your business), and (3) our extremely hip intern, Kelvin, somehow transported from La Jolla to an urban landscape via Photoshop.

So welcome to our office. We’ve got a lot of love and passion for the arts, and we work really, really hard—but at the end of the day, we’re not afraid of a lil fun here & there, either.

A Note About Being an Artist


Lately I’ve been confronted with my identity as an artist. I think it has always been a challenging thing to own up to. I remember being asked in my recent interview if I considered myself an artist, and when I was asked why I did state that I identify myself as an artist, I was kind of at a loss of words. I kind of said I was, just because during the time I actually did participate in a lot of forms of art (dance, music, fine arts, videography, photography), I never really owned up to the term out of fear. It was kind of a gesture of affirmation of my past self as an “artist” of many different mediums.

However, lately I’ve been really re-evaluating art as a mode of self-expression. Especially after going to Frida Kahlo’s complete exhibit and seeing her life’s work, I reflected upon the lack of self-expression that occurred in my art. I think what was also frustrating about involving myself in so many different types of art was the lack of real investment of myself within just one medium. I’m not saying this as a statement of regret, but I definitely think that this ties in with ways in which I have previously engaged with different forms of art.

While I was participating in art, I think I was stuck in a very competitive mindset. Being artistic was a means of mobility in my head, for some reason, especially being fluent across multiple mediums. I feel like it’s also something that I’ve had to prove to others. Like, oh yeah. I am a dancer/painter/photographer/videographer/musician. I know the techniques and the terminologies. But if I was those many things, why did I stop doing all of them after I’ve learned the techniques? What does it say about my relationship with different art forms?

I’m not really sure where I’m going from here, to be honest. I think it’s just very interesting the ways that I’ve engaged with art. I think the ways that I have previously thought about art have been very damaging to my growth as an artist. I think I burdened myself with the notion of comparing myself to others, instead of using it as a tool of liberation. Just some food for self-thought. :3

A great follow-up piece on what makes an artist from one of our interviewees for our #shifthappens project, Katie Huang. 

Q: What would you run away for?

A: An opportunity. Something or someone I love. Something professional, something for a family member. Anything I feel really passionate about.


Here’s a challenge: meet Michael Keller. Economics major, business minor, future marketing/sales professional, working multiple marketing jobs both on and off-campus, a business fraternity vice president under UCSD’s Delta Sigma Pi (DSP). Get to know him, give yourself a good five minutes. What year is he?

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