After the Jump: How We Define Ourselves as Creatives

by Grace Bonney

JReed Business Card
This week was the first episode of After the Jump (my weekly radio show about the creative community and running a creative business) in our new time slot: Wednesdays at 1 pm EST! I’ve been craving some more critical feedback on the structure of my show, the recording details and overall on-air performance, so I was happy to grab a new slot that lets me work with Heritage Radio Network‘s executive producer, Jack Inslee every week. He always has great tips and ideas for me to help improve the flow of the show and make it stronger, so I’m thrilled to be working with him again. I also have the pleasure of leading into my wife Julia‘s new show, Radio Cherry Bombe (about women in the food industry), so if you’re looking for more great radio, you can stay tuned to Heritage Radio at 2 pm for more inspiring women on air.

This week’s show was inspired by graphic designer, artist, baker and blogger Jessica Reed. After bumping into her at the Greenpointer‘s fair, I was impressed to see she had “fill in” business cards for herself (those are her cards above) that allow her to change her job description whenever needed. During her day job at Penguin she works as a graphic designer, but she also sells embroidered book covers and has self-published a fantastic Baker’s Appendix. Unafraid of embracing her skills and interests across many creative platforms, Jessica is a great example of the way modern creatives are starting to proudly declare their multidisciplinary status. Her cards made me curious and moved me to reach out to other people in our community who work in different parts of the art and design world.

Art director, stylist and blogger Susan Brinson is one of my favorite members of the online design community and recently left a corporate job to pursue a more multidisciplinary career. Along with her husband and business partner William Brinson, Susan works on exciting photo shoots and creative projects that have her wearing many different professional hats, from styling and directing to writing and social media coordination. I’ve always admired her confidence about her work and ability to handle so many different areas of her job with great skill, so we sat down together today to discuss a few key questions:

  • Do job titles matter in the same way anymore?
  • How do you find the confidence to “own” a multidisciplinary career?
  • What should young designers or new business owners focus on when trying to join a multi-talented creative community?
  • How can we embrace wide-ranging job titles and descriptions as an opportunity?
  • How can we prevent ourselves from being taken advantage of when we can offer many different skills to one employer?

Susan’s insight and advice – especially when it comes to embracing your skills, continuing to learn and maintaining confidence – were so inspiring to me. No matter what your job is now (or jobs, plural), finding a way to continually learn, grow and embrace (and find value in) your multi-faceted skill list is a crucial part of being in any professional community. From finding the confidence to describe your job and skills in a work situation to using experience in different fields to explain why you are the best fit for any position, this discussion is one I’m fascinated by and eager to hear more about from all of you. Thanks so much to Susan (and Will!) for joining me this week and thanks to all of you for listening! xo, grace

LISTEN: You can download the podcast on iTunes here, or stream it here on Heritage Radio

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  • Very nice piece to read it once or twice
    That ‘s what it takes in the world we
    Live today “

  • Thank you SO MUCH for this. I’ve been waiting ever since I emailed you to ask you if you were going to talk about this! You guys are so right about the confidence part. So much of the way you’re perceived is about OWNING your unique combination of skills. Over the past week I’ve been redesigning my entire website and CV to weave in all of the different parts of my background and show how they relate to what I’m doing now. There are still slashes in my professional title, but I feel like my career map is more clear. Thank you! :)

  • Such a great idea. Especially for us creatives who are also business owners, there are so many damn hats to wear. My partners and I have struggled so much with what our titles are because depending on the day we might be Lead Florist, CFO, Marketing Director, HR Director, COO, Creative Director …. Janitor, Coffee Go-Getter, Dog-Walker, …

  • Excellent interview with Susan, mad me reflect back to working during the 80s much like the AD she mentioned where I did everything. Although I will say, I drew much of my inspiration from browsing the pages of Australian Food and Lifestyle magazines simply because the photography was beautiful and more exciting then what I was seeing at the time in NYC magazine scene. Hats off to Susan for reaching out and exploring her creative DNA beyond what she did as her 9-5.

  • Excellent episode. I’m a podcast creator, producer, and junkie and this is BY FAR my new favorite podcast.