Artisan Blog

Avoiding Digital Miscommunication

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 413th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 

Do you get confused reading certain emails because you can’t decipher the writer’s tone? Have you ever been surprised at how different a person can sound depending on whether they’re using the phone or speaking face to face? Have members of your team asked you to clarify a memo or email when you thought you were 100% clear?

Well, you could be caught in that trap of digital miscommunication.

As we have embraced globalization, virtual offices, and meetings conducted via Zoom, or chatted using Slack, we have had to rapidly adapt to new forms of communication. “The medium is the message,” as futurist Marshall McLuhan wrote, and the nonverbal cues we use in person don’t always translate via this new medium.

Communicating clearly through any method is an essential requirement for any career advancement, your team’s success or developing interpersonal skills. It’s often a process of trial and error, and here are a few general rules that will help avoid costly misunderstandings.

Clear, concise communication is a strength and one that all job descriptions ask for. For some it comes naturally, for others the following tips can be beneficial:

Write like you talk

Avoid confusing jargon and ensure that your point gets across in the simplest possible manner.

For practice, read your emails aloud before you send them. As you get used to editing yourself, you will sharpen your thinking as well.

Keep it simple

If you write and speak clearly you will earn the respect of your colleagues by saving their patience and time.

If you’re a long-winded writer, run your text through Readability Score to make it more concise before you hit “send.”

Be present

As you keep your message simple and brief, make sure you don’t leave your colleagues guessing about essential information. Your colleagues and communications deserve your full attention. A simple mindfulness meditation practice can train you to focus on what’s in front of you right now and in turn tune out what’s not currently important.

Be Empathetic

The Harvard Business Review suggests professional empathy as a way to disarm potential misunderstandings. When you connect with another person, no matter what the medium, try to see things from that person’s perspective and interpret the world through a language that person uses and best understands.

This isn’t just for salespeople and therapists; active listening can help anyone establish more meaningful and effective connections and reduce team friction.

Ask Questions

If you are unclear, asking direct questions will get better results than making assumptions and pretending you know more than you do.

Asking the right questions gives you a chance to learn how other people communicate and think. As a result, your own communication will become much more effective when you understand how your colleagues approach their work.

Asking questions conveys curiosity and enthusiasm which indicates active participation in the world around you. When you think the conversation is almost over, asking one more question can yield a key insight.

Communicate Visually

Along with asking questions and adapting to your audience (or “reading the room,” as comedians call it), Supervisor Essentials suggests that you learn to communicate your ideas visually. Digital communication is growing increasingly visual, and there are many new tools that will enhance the experience for all, from infographics to animated gifs.

Studies suggest that 65% of us are visual learners. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a designer, you’ll be better equipped to get through to your visually inclined colleagues if you can master the basics of visual communication. It can also help you make those (at times) rather dull web conferences more useful and engaging.

At Artisan Creative, we help creative professionals connect with clients and opportunities, and we know that effective communication is the essence of a good connection. As you build your communication skills and become fluent in the language of business, we can provide resources for growth, put you in touch with industry leaders, and help you build a career you’ll love. Get in touch today to learn more.

14 Design Apps We Love

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 412th issue of our weekly a.blog.

Most designers try out dozens of apps before they find the ones that best suit their work habits and enhance their creativity. When love takes root between a designer and an app, it’s the beginning of a long, fruitful, and sometimes passionate relationship.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we like to share fourteen design-related apps that we can’t live without (and wouldn’t want to).

AutoDesk Sketchbook

One of the most versatile and popular drawing apps, Sketchbook includes a collection of tools that would cost hundreds in the three dimensional world!

Behance

Adobe’s portfolio showcase has become an important hub for the design community and one of the first places to spot UI trends.

Pixelmator

Pixelmator is basically a scaled-down version of Photoshop and is one of the most robust and useful free design apps around.

Pages

This simple and stylish word processing app is designed by Apple and comes with fancy templates and features. Despite significant changes between versions, Pages retains its passionate following.

Canva

Canva has become enormously popular as a means for marketing mavens and other non-designers to create eye-catching collateral of their own. With some practice, only a pro will know the difference.

Phonto

Even if you’re not a visual artist, Phonto can hone your creativity by adding cool captions to photos on the fly.

Coolors

Whether you’re new to color theory or your cat is named Pantone, this simple mix-and-match palette generator provides a quick shot of inspiration for design and branding projects.

UX Companion

This educational app provides enough definitions, examples, and in-depth resources to make anyone conversant in User Experience ideas, with a fittingly inviting and intuitive interface.

Glitch Lab

If you want to digitally garble, mangle, or otherwise mess up your photos, this is one of the most powerful toolkits for that. Join the pop art vanguard, use it for inspiration, or just have some fun between projects.

Pixite Complete

For a scant eight bucks, this suite packs six popular photo-editing apps and plenty of stylish effects to facilitate counter intuitive combinations.

Font Candy

This fashionable photo-editing app is built for quick captioning and creates assets that are ready to travel on social media.

Marvel App

Marvel is a soup-to-nuts Swiss Army knife for designing mobile apps on mobile devices.

Exify

When your iPhone photography habit is more than just a hobby, Exify has a full set of features to help you manifest your visions.

Coffitivity

While not functionally a design app, Coffitivity’s portable coffee-shop ambience will perk up your inner creative, even when you’re stuck in the office.

End Time-Wasting Habits

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 411th issue of our weekly a.blog.

Procrastination is a choice. You may let yourself believe you're just sending a few more harmless texts, frittering away another hour by “taking a break” on Facebook, or putting off your goals for one more day. What you’re really doing is letting valuable time evaporate.

You’re smart and talented enough to use your time more effectively, and you have to first understand your habits in order to change them. Poor productivity isn't the fault of Mark Zuckerberg and his team of programmers. It's something you can change when you call it by its name. 

Here are five big categories that encompass our little time-wasting habits. When you see yourself falling into these traps, call yourself out. As you learn to correct counterproductive tendencies, you’ll be on your way to a better body of work, better career opportunities, and more self-confidence.

1. Analysis Paralysis

It's time to make a decision, yet you continue to wait until all the facts are in. You need more data, or more research, or one more class that will make you a master and hopefully eliminate any apprehension for good.

Analysis paralysis is the result of a fear of failure. We are trained to avoid embarrassment, and we'd rather postpone big risks that may not play out the way we want.

To get past this, accept that you will never be prepared for every possibility. You can learn a lot through trial and error, experiences that you can't glean through any amount of preliminary study. When it doubt, do something, see what happens, and be willing to embrace it fully.

2. Self-Sabotage

You put off a big assignment until the last second, forcing yourself to rush it and turn in mediocre work. You distract yourself, creating conditions where you know you will do less than your best. You give 70%, resenting every second of it.

There are false benefits to engaging in self-sabotage. When we know we're not giving it our all, it allows us to fail without damaging our egos. "I could have done a great job," we often say. "I just didn't have the time, or the energy, or the commitment."

To get around self-sabotage, try this exercise:

Visualize the consequences of neglecting your responsibilities. Maybe you will lose your job, lose the respect of colleagues, or miss out on future opportunities. Feel that pain and frustration as fully as you can.

Now turn that image black and white, and make it smaller until it disappears. Replace it with a new image, bursting with color, one that celebrates you successfully completing your work. With that image in mind, tackle your work wholeheartedly, take pride in your follow-through, and integrate new things you learn from the experience of getting the job done.

3. Micromanaging

As a manager, you are familiar with every process. You know how every part fits into the company's broader mission. You could do everyone's job better if you only did it yourself; you just don't have the time.

The best supervisors know how to free up a lot of time by delegating tasks to others and empower their teams. If you have trouble doing this, it may indicate a lack of trust.

Remind yourself that employees are there for a reason, and you trained them well. If you simply let go and let them do their jobs, you will have more time to handle your own responsibilities. In turn, the company will run more smoothly, and your team will feel more appreciated.

4. Interpersonal conflicts

Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."

She did not mean that great leaders lack empathy. On the contrary; our best ideas come from understanding the lives and experiences of others. Excellent thinkers channel their interest in humanity into their work; they do not engage in office politics and idle gossip.

Engaging in status games or worrying about who is in the boss's good graces is at best a waste of everyone's time and a distraction from the important work that needs to be done. At worst, being too concerned with how you're perceived can make you harder to get along with which will hinder fluid teamwork.

5. Trying to do too much

"Specialization is for insects," wrote Robert Heinlein. There's much to be said for being a "scanner" and having a broad range of interests and experience. The danger kicks in when you try to do so much, that you find yourself unable to focus on anything long enough to see it through. 

If you need to correct this tendency, we recommend rigorously limiting your to-do list. Give yourself no more than four big things to accomplish in any one day. As time goes on, these little accomplishments will add up to a larger sense of accomplishment leading to well-earned confidence.  More information on being productive can be found here.

If you are short handed and need help to get the job done please let us know. Get in touch to learn more about how the a.team can help find your dream team.

5 Signs You Are an Artrepreneur

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

 

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 410th issue of our weekly a.blog.

Are you trying to connect the dots between what you’re passionate about creating and what people want?

Do you want to turn your passion into a career and use your ideas to enrich the lives of others?

If so, you might be an artrepreneur.

We’re all creative. It’s part of being alive. Yet, not every artist is an artrepreneur.

Artrepreneurs work hard, as hard as any other professionals. They’re generous and love to collaborate. They can thrive in the right creative environment, as part of the right team.

On the blog Millennial Type, Declan Wilson defines an artrepreneur as "anyone with a desire to better others through their art but still have the business savvy to make it a sustainable venture. In most cases, artrepreneurs are artists like painters and musicians. This concept can apply to a much larger group of people who might not view themselves as artists. Today, many people online are artrepreneuring via blogging, podcasting, writing, and content-creating."

If that sounds familiar, you may be ready to take the artrepreneurial leap and start mixing work and play.

Here at Artisan Creative, we work with artrepreneurs every day, and we’ve found that they have a few things in common. Here are five signs you may be an artrepreneur.

1. You create to connect

You believe your work creates value by improving someone’s life. You want a larger audience because it means you can help more people. When you brainstorm new ideas, you think of desires and needs that aren't being served. You know you've succeeded when you've helped others get what they want, or better yet, helped them shed light on what they didn't even know they wanted.

2. You are interested in human behavior

You’re intrigued by others and are curious about why they do what they do. You love learning about the psychology behind marketing campaigns, purchasing decisions, and consumer motivation. You approach the creative business from a place of empathy with a desire to understand the perspectives of others.

3. You know that being independent doesn't mean being alone

You know your best work never happens in a vacuum. Your sharpest thinking happens when you break out of isolation. When you find the right team, you contribute your strengths, learn from people with different skills, and generate work that is more powerful than what anyone could have pulled off alone. You appreciate the bigger picture and thrive when you participate in a larger process.

4. You are the master of your ego

You’re not defined by any one project, rather the integrity and spirit you bring to your work defines you better. For you, life and work are processes of continuous improvement. Although you’re not afraid to defend your ideas, you embrace constructive feedback. Critique is an opportunity to see your work from a different angle and make improvements you may not have known were possible. Every person has a different piece of the puzzle, and opening yourself to the ideas of others, empowers you to succeed.

5. You think like a pro

You agree with the famed screenwriter Steven Pressfield, who writes in The War of Art that “the most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.”

While others are trying to catch lightning in a bottle or waiting for inspiration to strike as they binge on Netflix, you show up and do the work, every day. You cultivate a practice, hone your skills, and keep producing and shipping work, with no excuses. When you do get inspired, or your dream project finally hits your inbox, you’ll be ready.

Are you an artrepreneur? Please share your thoughts, and join our community of other artrepreneurs!



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