What Stella Artois Can Teach Us About Thriving In The Creative World

Here’s a tradition that’s been all but replaced by photography and large format printing. This short documentary, commissioned by Stella Artois, shows the passion it takes to be a commercial mural painter today.

A Reminder From A Dying Breed Of Artists

The few painters in this trade still endure lengthy apprentice-master relationships before touching a brush. This is their passion and they commit to learning it thoroughly over many years.

This guild-like approach is rare in today’s world. The patience required of the apprentices is even more remarkable in our hyper-speed world. But the choice to keep a lasting respect for our work is available to all of us—we should take it.

Practice Does Not Make Perfect (Here’s What Does)

There are stages when my photographic skills stop improving. All creatives experience these lulls from time to time. But if we are equipped with a real respect for our craft, we can recognize and do battle with what Joshua Foer calls “OK Plateaus.”

Foer has written a best-selling book full of strategies for developing expertise. During a lecture for 99U, he gave an example of an OK Plateau seen in typing.

When we first begin to type, we push ourselves to get faster and more accurate. But as soon as we reach a comfortable speed, we stop improving despite continued “practice” (a.k.a. logging hours on Facebook).

While simply practicing is ineffective, Foer found he could overcome this OK Plateau by turning off his brain’s autopilot and training with intention.

The OK Plateau That Fearless Creatives Must Overcome

Foer’s typing accomplishments may seem trivial—but the principle is game-changing if applied to the OK Plateau creatives experience when:

1) Our clients are happy, and,
2) Our skills aren’t being challenged by our peers.

If we intentionally push ourselves when we don’t have to, then we don’t just improve. We also give a message to our community that we care about what we do. And with that comes unexpected opportunities.

Mixing old-world commitment with modern business acumen is a simple recipe to success. It’s not easy, but the alternative is waiting to be replaced by someone with more drive.


Are You In An OK Plateau?

Have you experienced an OK Plateau in your craft? Let me know by commenting below!
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Hats off to Stella Artois for commissioning the documentary and to Dom for the link.

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