Why Creatives Need “Gangster Hustle”

When it comes to getting hired, Creatives’ side projects are now almost as important as their ad work.

It used to be the case that advertising Creatives got jobs based solely on the quality of their advertising. Oh, and their personalities, of course.

But increasingly, ECD’s are looking just as closely at Creatives’ passion projects and side projects.

“The kind of creatives I’m most interested in hiring are the ones with side-hustles,” says Jim Elliott, Global Chief Creative Officer at Arnold Worldwide. “Not ad drones who have nothing but advertising to show for their creativity.”

By “side-hustles” he means blogs, Instagram projects, film projects, art exhibits, short stories, t-shirt printing companies, comic strips, stand-up routines, music, improv, sketch comedy, etc.

So why this increasing emphasis on non-advertising work?

It could be that Creatives are simply able to be more creative in their side-projects than they are in their ad work, given the inherent conservatism of many clients nowadays.

Or that the side projects give a truer picture of a Creative’s personality than their ad work does.

That’s certainly part of Jim Elliott’s thinking. Interviewed in the Havas worldwide blog, Elliott explains that he’s looking for “people who are innately creative, who feel compelled by some inner drive to create original things, and who take bold, brave chances in the process.”

But there’s also quite clearly something else going on here. A commitment to side projects – on which the Creative will inevitably have had to play the role of producer and project manager as well as coming up with the idea – show that a Creative has the ability to make stuff happen. In other words, it’s a marker of energy and entrepreneurial spirit. The kind of qualities that are needed to get ideas past the many road-blocks that Creatives encounter on a day-to-day basis.

“To be a successful creative today, takes hustle,” is how Elliott puts it. “Gangster hustle.”