The Creative Professional: A Survival Guide for the Business World

by Howard J. Blumenthal

The Creative Professional: A Survival Guide for the Business World

The conventional interpretation is that the amateur pursues his calling out of love, while the pro does it for money. … In my view, the amateur does not love the game enough. If he did, he would not pursue it as a sideline, distinct from his “real” vocation. The professional loves it so much he dedicates his life to it.

–Steven Pressfield, screenwriter

Howard J. Blumenthal’s book, The Creative Professional: A Survival Guide for the Business World, is a must-read for anyone in any creative professional. Blumenthal starts off with the basics: what defines a “œcreative” professional, the rules of behavior in the marketplace, and the valuable assets of a creative professional. He also addresses the myths surrounding creatives, such as “creatives are disorganized”, “creatives are crazy”, and “you can’t learn creativity from a book”. He discusses personality traits and how they translate into the workplace, with specific references to the Myers-Briggs personality test, and how to use those traits to your advantage.

Blumenthal then goes on to talk about work styles, and includes a number of helpful exercises to help you determine how you work best. He talks about being a leader vs. being a specialist, and the difference between working for an employer and for clients. Blumenthal details the hiring process, including why you might not get hired full-time, and the positives and negatives of working for different size and types of companies.

The inherent distrust of creatives is discussed at length: business people don’t trust creatives; “creatives only care about creative work”; “creatives don’t follow business logic”. Blumenthal includes an excellent chart on traditional business thought vs. the creatives’ view.

From there, Blumenthal talks about managing your resources: time management, the creative process, getting past obstacles, how creatives think, and legal issues. He also discusses a creative’s career path: alternate paths, how to make changes when things aren’t going well, why the traditional job market doesn’t work for creatives, how to grow your career, determining what you really want to accomplish, and knowing when to move on. At the end, Blumenthal includes The Creative Bookshelf, a list of excellent resources.

The book is packed full of information and exercises, and needs at least a second read to begin to process all the fantastic information in it. Any creative, newbie to veteran, should have a copy of this book, and refer to it often.

This review was originally written for BoDo: Business of Design Online.
Reprinting allowed with permission of author.