Why your side-hustle will make you a better creative

Iris' creative director disagrees with a column by Creature's Ben Middleton which claims side-hustles are hurting the advertising industry.

This week Creature’s Ben Middleton wrote "Why your side-hustle sucks", exclaiming that creatives should be focusing on advertising and making great work. As a champion for the "side hustlers" of this world, a side-hustler myself and a judge for D&AD New Blood’s Side-Hustle category, I couldn’t agree with Ben any less in this instance. 

Knocking the side-hustle threatens to shut down the most raw form of creativity – passion. Is it not conceivable that a side-hustle could enhance your skillset and inform your "real job"? Is it not desirable for our clients to see that we not only understand brands but we can also conjure them from thin air? Yes and YES! The industry demands people with passion, tenacity and spark, people that do things differently, so we have to celebrate multifaceted creativity. I disagree with Ben that ad folk are side-hustling because the industry isn’t "cool enough" for them. If anything, it’s because the industry is ridiculously cool, with really cool people hungry to always be doing cool things. 

This year over 1,000 talented students will exhibit at D&AD New Blood, and 5,000 will be entering the awards, all fighting for the limited jobs the industry has to offer. But now being able to think of a traditional campaign is no longer enough; agencies are thirsty for people with "creative superpowers"and this is exactly why D&AD New Blood has launched a new Side-Hustle category.

As New Blood manager Bethan Morris says, "Those who recruit are constantly telling us they want to see more than the usual uni projects when they're hiring. They want to find those who see or seek out ways to put their creativity into practice in the real world. People who take risks, innovate and experiment, who turn ideas into action.". The designer who also happens to know how to shoot flatlay, a conceptual creative who also knows code, those who can stretch themselves and demonstrate get up and go are those who will have the edge. 

Don’t get me wrong, I adore working in advertising, but I cannot spend every waking moment thinking about it, and I’d weep for anyone who did. Creative people need to decompress and find pleasure in alternative types of creativity in order to till their internal gardens. I design and produce a small range of homewares, prints, taxidermy and stationery, The Curious Department (pictured above). Over the last 18 months I’ve built a substantial community around the brand, primarily through social media, and as a result I’m now stocked in over 20 shops.  My side-hustle does not distract me from my job, it informs my job. After successfully launching my brand I have a much deeper understanding of PR, social media, content creation, and influencer outreach (to name a few).  

Anyone reading this who has found enough drive and ambition to transform their dream into a reality on their own terms deserves congratulations. Having a side-hustle is no easy feat; it takes work and time. The next time someone tells you your side-hustle is a waste of time, remember this wonderful quote from the director of the iconic film Jaws: "You shouldn’t dream your film. You should make it."Or my very own motto: "‘Stop the mindless scrolling, and get your side hustle a-rolling". 

Ross Taylor is a creative director at Iris

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