There are lots of creatives out there that feel "real creative" is the stuff that wins awards. The work that builds fame. The kind of creative that a select few in our industry make.
They tend to look down on what we call "hard-working creative." You know the stuff: CRM, banners, websites, brochures, etc. The creative that gets shit done.
Now, there's nothing wrong with making creative that wins awards. There's nothing wrong with building fame. What's wrong is thinking that kind of creative is better, or that you're a better creative for making it.
This is going to be a bit of a rant. A bit of a rally cry. And a whole lot of cheerleading for you to feel good about the work you're creating, no matter what it is.
Not All Great Creative Wins Awards
The truth is, only some great creative wins awards. And most of the time, that creative is made by agencies with deep pockets who can afford the $800 - $5000 fee per entry to even get the project in front of judges. Plus, the limited number of categories and hand-picked judges with specialties in specific areas...well, it all kinda becomes a self-selecting segment of the industry.
Now, if you win awards, kudos to you. Hopefully you focused on making the work great and just revel in the fact you were recognized for doing so, not the other way around.
Great creative is great creative, whether it wins an award or not.
Though, if you were part of the 99% of people who focused on making great work, but didn't win any awards, then don't get down on yourself. Great creative is great creative, whether it has a certificate or metal statue of a lion or a pencil or whatever shape the flavor-of-the-month-award comes in.
The ultimate test of whether creative is great is if it serves the purpose it set out to do. Often, we gauge creative based on the art and forget about the ultimate goal. We should always strive for great stories and great art, but the business goal (whether it's a short- or long-term one) is the whole point of what we're doing.
Great Creative Isn't Always on TV
There are so many different mediums out there, yet we still put television on a pedestal. I'm not gonna lie: the budgets and notoriety that making a tv commercial brings, they're pretty cool. But it's a short-lived, superficial part of it all.
You may spend your days writing page after page of online brochure copy. Maybe you write quippy, one-liner tweets for a local business. Or perhaps you retouch and resize photography to place in landing pages. It's work that many creatives would think is beneath them.
But you love it. So, that's all that matters.
If you love what you make, then it's great.
If you want it to be great, then put your heart into it. Make sure your craft is your passion. Be the person that everyone turns to when they want it to be pixel-perfect. Be the wordsmith that gets tapped on the shoulder when you need to convince the reader to hit that "Buy" button. Be the one that has the uncanny ability to say the same thing in a hundred different, interesting ways.
Great creative isn't defined by what others think of it. It's defined by how well you made it and how much you love it. The idea and the execution (regardless of the medium, budget, or eyeballs on it) that's what we do this for.
You Make Great Work
You have the choice to make great work. And that doesn't mean the stuff that takes home hardware once a year from the south of France. Or stuff that gets a few days of buzz in the trade pubs. Or even stuff that you see in the bar on TV and point at with pride.
You may never be recognized by some panel of judges for what you do. You may never be able to mention a project you were on and have people "ooo" and "aah" at the name drop. But you still have the chance to make great work.
Great work is something that you were proud of making. So, no matter what it is that you're creating, make it great. Be proud of it.