A tweet from Adobe Flash today invited followers to submit their favorite pet peeve, since it’s apparently National Pet Peeve week (too bad they don’t have decorative wall hangings or lights – I’d probably have more decorations for it than Christmas).

The tweet had a graphic that said, “Make it pop,” probably the ONE criticism designers hate to hear from clients because it’s basically a throwaway line, a few words of lazy feedback that say, “I don’t have any honest feedback for you. I can’t accept this right off the bat, but I don’t see where it really needs to be improved, so I guess I’ll just pretend I understand the elements of design and tell you it needs to pop more.”

Of course, unless the client had specific way in mind to “make it pop,” a common response now is, “Well, Photoshop [or Premiere Pro, or Illustrator, or whatever design program is used] doesn’t have a pop button or menu item.” It’s a response that might get you fired from a project. Which might be a good thing if the client has been difficult to deal with in the first place.

The pet peeve of mine that’s been said to me is, “You’re a creative soul,” always with a touch of condescension, as if I don’t understand the hard number-crunching realities of, well, whatever project is being discussed.

To be sure, I’m not a numbers guy, but I’ve worked on enough projects in nearly 35 years as a communications professional to know how the business and technical side of things work. I’m no so bent on creating nothing but “aht” and “beauteh” that I don’t know I do what I do to make money and help my clients make (or save) money. I’m not writing short fiction about dysfunctional families who find a microcosm of their despair in a bowl of noodle salad. I’m writing short, two-page guides to help users complete a certain task with the software they’re using. I’m not making art-house documentaries on a tortured abstract artist begging for recognition. I’m producing short informative videos that engage users and instruct them on technical topics. I’m not stretching the boundaries of audio production like this guy (though I really wish I could). I’m recording and editing voice-over narrations and mixing music beds for those short informative videos.

Several years ago, a dear colleague of mine defended me in a meeting to a manager who complained that I lacked basic spreadsheet skills because I never submitted project status reports on time, and something on them (I don’t remember exactly what) was never formatted correctly. My colleague said she told the manager that, “He’s not happy unless he’s making something or fixing something. He hates the mundane, micromanagement stuff.”

“Creative people are like that,” was the manager’s response.

It comes down to this: I create in that I make something that wasn’t there before with the tools I use and the skills I’ve developed over the past 35 years. If that’s the case, any skilled carpenter is a creative soul.

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