The 'Red Lemon Creative'. A 10-Point Manifesto for Successful Creatives Who Stand Out

The 'Red Lemon Creative'. A 10-Point Manifesto for Successful Creatives Who Stand Out

September 18, 2012 by

Having spent a few years building up Red Lemon Club, there is so much I’ve learnt and so much that I yet want to explore, learn and share.

The more time I spend researching for posts and thinking about the ideas behind the site and the people that drive it, the clearer an idea is formed in my brain as to what it is that makes up who we are. We, being those people drawn to the ideas discussed here.

Why am I doing this? What is this community? Who does this resource help and resonate with?

Red Lemon Club is a source of guidance for absolutely anyone, but it is also, in my mind, a collection of resources that appeals to a very distinct breed of human being; particularly one with an interest in making the most of their creative craft and seeing real, ongoing success.

I’m going to break this down further, to give greater clarity to the image one might have of Red Lemon Club and the kinds of people that it is directed towards. What I hope this does is create a kind of ‘manifesto’ that will serve to motivate and direct the focus of readers, whilst reminding myself of what Red Lemon Club, and the independent and creative individuals that use it, really represent.

Here are the ten elements* of what I feel it means to be a ‘Red Lemon Creative’…

*Side note: possessing every characteristic is not essential for earning the title…

1. Sustainable

In striving for success and recognition, people very often create so much work for themselves and so little time, that they sabotage their very efforts of reaching and maintaining a rewarding career.

The Red Lemon Creative (RLC) understands this danger, and knows that becoming indispensable and creating an outstanding product are part of a wider picture that includes making time for other things, including things bigger than ourselves, and living realistically.

This includes dedicating some time to other pursuits, especially those of simply relaxing and recuperating, even if (and I hope it does) the creative work you do is rewarding in itself.

It is through a varied life that keeps what we do as creatives motivating and self-sustaining.

2. Flexible

Being flexible means the RLC has choices. A choice of how to work, whether for a company who hires them on a contract, or as a freelancer, for example. We have a choice on where in the world to work, with whom to work with, and when in the day, week and year we want to work.

Flexibility is ours with an understanding of how to create it. Through sharing various ideas on topics that lend themselves to a flexible life, Red Lemon Club will show you how.

3. Seeks to Stand Out

Clearly differentiating oneself within the wide spectrum of others contributing similar products and services is a central element of the way of the Red Lemon Creative, and an aim that involves on-going development, tweaking and self/brand reinvention.

Continually striving for excellence in all that we do is the glue that holds such differentiation together.

4. ‘Gets’ Promotion 3.0

A term I assigned to a more up to date format to distributing an awareness of the work we do and attracting buyers, is ‘Promo 3.0.’ Cheesy-sounding? Perhaps. Important? Definitely.

A more in-depth look into how Promo 3.0 works is found in my book that you can download for Kindle here (use a Kindle reader for other devices). The idea is nothing too radical, but certainly different to how things were (hint: too ‘salesy’).

This includes ideas on bringing value to people and prospects before they have bought from you, being a leader, ‘unselling’, building and maintaining relationships and rapport, serving others without ‘subservience’, collaboration instead of selling, and so on.

5. Dedicated to Craft

The RLC has a central, core skill // craft // talent // ability that we spend time, perhaps a lifetime, developing and honing. We are dedicated to becoming masters at one thing at a time rather than semi-skilled at several at the same time.

We bring magic to the world with our superior skill in this one thing, and we become known for it and make the world a better place using it.

This does not mean that we cannot be good at several things at once (and use this feature to promote ourselves further). You can be dedicated to a craft but still be good at other things. What isn’t good, however, is being semi-skilled at several things at the expense of putting time into a single, identifiable craft.

The RLC prioritizes development of their core craft.

6. Independent

This is the opposite to being dependent, in this sense. We are not dependent on a regular paycheck to survive, though we can choose to work for others if we want to. Our independence allows us to travel, see family and friends and relax, when we choose.

Sound selfish? Having freedom in this way is to give, not to take, because we are responsible for our lives, and thus more in a position to make creative and positive effects in the world.

Independence also means that we are in control of the way we handle our day to day, including knowing how to bring in income, making time, attracting clients, promoting ourselves, staying organized, being self-sufficient and caring for ourselves and others.

7. Financially Set

Ultimately, unless you do not plan on generating income from your art, you are operating as a business entity with a hugely important requirement for a financial structure and system in place.

The RLC not only has a financial system in place that includes backup funds, savings, a set-aside for taxes, a piggy for retirement, and perhaps an expert for help, but actually understands the basics. This includes knowing how to build income and reduce unnecessary expenditure, and business concepts in general.

8. Time Pro

Humans will probably never be masters of managing time, but we can engage with the game that ‘time’ plays with us in such a way that we come out as owners of it.

The RLC does not obsess over making use of time, but has some self-imposed rules in place that make us benefit in a big way. This includes saying no to certain engagements, when required, in prioritising working on craft and building credibility and clout as a creative.

The RLC has firm goals in mind, at micro and macro-levels in time, which allow us to make much more effective use of it without over-analysing and wandering aimlessly.

9. Understands ‘Cool’

Cool gets noticed; cool gets shared; cool excites people; cool does not get ignored.

This isn’t the ‘too cool’: the snobbish, aloof kind. I’m talking about cool as a fascinating quality that encapsulates an up to date awareness of what really interests people (namely, your target market, but as many people as possible beyond that as well), and responding through originality, with honesty and without pretension.

Apple gets it, for the most part; David Fincher and Wes Anderson get it; Andy Warhol, Picasso and Frida Khalo had it, so does James Jean, JK Rowling, Dan Matutina, Zaha Hadid, and the founders of Fab and Tumbleweed Houses.

There’s a ton of it, and different audiences are suited to different forms of ‘cool’. You just need to wedge your piece in there. Like with striving for excellence, finding your cool can be a gradual thing too. It’s certainly not something you are born with.

The Red Lemon Creative possesses such an awareness, and strives to encourage a ‘now that is cool!’ reaction in the people that experience their work and their brand.

10. Indispensable

The Red Lemon Creative is always working on their own indispensability. Being indispensable means possessing elements and characteristics that make you not only useful, but essential in the eyes of people who could potentially work with and invest in you.

Indispensable people provide an outstanding and original product and service, bringing extra value, positivity and insight to the table. This is you, right?

I left this one till last because most of being indispensable includes the points shared up until now, but is still worth mentioning on its own.

I hope these ideas resonate with some of you and shine a little more light onto what and who it is Red Lemon Club directed towards.

I look forward to reading your comments, ideas, suggestions and general feedback!

About the Author: Alex Mathers

Alex is a project starter, sometimes finisher, writer and illustrator. He started Red Lemon Club in 2009 with the aim of helping talented creative people leave their mark.

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"Your blog inspires me so much, and helps me feel somehow not as insignificant, despite the plethora of artists around the world."Natalie, artist

  • http://www.danillustrates.co.uk Daniel Olivier-Argyle

    Number 7 has to be my favourite.

  • Pingback: Freak Nasty Friday, #63 « The Shortest Road

  • http://www.dannyrobinson.daportfolio.com Danny

    This article really hits home. I am currently trying to shift my career to a more creative environment. But I’ve noticed that I’ve been in and put myself in a box over the years. It’s an incredibly hard thing to recognize and break out of. The safe route with design just isn’t going to always work, if at all. Everything in this list needs applied ASAP. Thank you so much for your knowledge and sharing it.

  • Alex Mathers

    Thanks Danny, I can hear the passion and motivation behind your words. Often (and this hugely applies to me too) it’s good to be reminded of those elements that make what we do worth it and keep us from losing sight of emerging fulfilled and hopefully a little bit triumphant.

  • http://www.hollysharpe.com Holly Sharpe

    This is awesome, thanks again Alex! I can definitely relate to quite a few of them but others I feel like I am still quite far from achieving. I know I just need to stay focused on the path in my head! This advice and support helps a lot as always :)

  • http://www.ebeautyloft.com Abigail Rosado

    Considering the beauty industry is forever evolving, #3 and # 9 are my favorite. The constant evolution of your brand, dictated by your audience.The importance of identifying “Cool” by responding honestly and with originality. Anotherwords, keeping it real and interesting.

  • Alex Mathers

    @Holly Thank you. Keep going!

    @Abigail those two are definitely valuable in the fashion / beauty industries! Glad you liked it.

  • http://www.twobyte.com Toby

    I’ve just gone independent after years in an agency. The decisive moment came after having a child and realising I needed to have more control of my own life.

    It has been a super exciting move for me, and although I am probably working even harder now then ever just to get things up and running, I am feeling properly alive again.

    For me this is a very timely article, thanks Alex :)

  • Alex Mathers

    Good stuff Toby! All the best with that – I’m sure you’ll do well. It’s always good to hear from people out in the ‘field’!

  • http://allisonsweeney.net Allison Sweeney

    It is amazing how important it is to focus on these points, an as well as other personal reminders similar to these – especially in the first months of breaking into an independent, self-contained business model. I am so blown away by how difficult it is to keep your creative mission intact in the face of actualizing and developing a creative business plan, even when your vision and drive has been with you for a quarter century in a private capacity. Thanks so much for sharing this fuel, I know it gives me great strength and increased clarity of purpose and clarity of *awesome*

  • Alex Mathers

    Thanks Allison. Actually your comment is a boost in itself. Yeah! If there’s one really important thing in all of it, and you’ve correctly identified it – your mission. Keep up the good stuff!

  • http://www.andyrayson.com Andy Rayson

    As always an excellent collection of tips. I’ll be checking these regularly. I hope to land a job or go freelance this year, exciting times ahead !

  • Alex Mathers

    Thank you Andy. More to come, all the best with it! Would love to hear how it goes.

  • http://www.behance.net/sam_blanch Samuel Blanch

    I find this entry a particularly rich source of relevant information, tips, hints and tricks at being successful at making a sustainable, meaningful difference in the way you do business and art. Like a lot of your stuff Alex, I plan on bookmarking this and rereading to see how well I have achieved at the various things you have encapsulated with your thinking. At the moment, point 6. Independent has particular salience for me. This is the crux of what I do and everything else seems to feed into and out of this essential point. For example, to be independent I need to go about working in ways that are sustainable for which me means my income is limited so I need to reduce needless expenditure which in turn helps me make more out of what I have (less) which drives me to be more sustainable, reusing, recycling, looking for sophisticated solutions out of simple resources and so on. Working in this way, I spend less time ‘at work making money’ and more time working on building my hinterland, spending quality time researching my craft, learning new skills through study and so on – I make just enough money, but I am rich in time and learn through necessity how not to waste this valuable resource needlessly, e.g. spending when I don’t need to. When change is necessary then I have more to draw on in terms of understanding, multi-tasking, patient construction of new knowledge, as well as the ability to work ‘independently’ using a variety of sources for feedback and focus (which I crave and drastically need). Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? However, at times working in this way I feel pulled in completely opposite directions, I get frustrated that I have so many diverse tasks to complete, I get worked up in anticipation, quite positively sometimes, at the possibility of new ventures, at others quite anxious about the uncertainty of it all. This all adds up to an interesting range of coping mechanisms, enjoyment, reward and a feeling of working sustainably and ethically. Your blog is a stimulating source of inspiration and clarity of purpose which at times helps to spark a change to or confirm my approach. Thanks!

  • Alex Mathers

    Fantastic comment as always Sam. I think there is a lot to be said for being wealthy in the fulfilling sense over the strictly financial sense. All the best with everything.

  • http://paradisenauts.tumblr.com/ Costas

    I really like the move from usefull to essential!

  • ▲ Hotton ▲

    “there is so much I’ve learnt and so much that I yet want to explore, learn and share.” …… Good luck for the first one, Success for the second, THANKS for the last one!!!

  • Yaga Baba

    Thanks Alex for this!  To me, a complete fresher, many of your posts teach me how to respect and appreciate myself and the situation I am in – how to make the most of being creative and use my potential and time wisely. Especially in a times of doubtfulness, I keep coming back to your website.
    I would be happy to have a paper copy of “Promo 3.0″ any chance or perspective?
    Wishing you all the best for the New Year !!

  • Yaga Baba

    Yeah! It would be ‘cool’ to have an opportunity to have an account on your web to keep the favourites in one place! :)

  • Alex Mathers

    Thanks Yaga, good to hear that! As for a paper copy… working on it! You may need to find a way of printing for now. All the best

  • Michael Shandrick

    Good points, but it’s lost on hipsters and oeuvre poseurs. I would add an #8. Be Still. Let the Noise come to you. Most who conform to the previous 7 tips will most likely stumble because they couldn’t shut the fuck up. The quiet attitude is so rarely seen it would probably be lost on today’s creatives. I know three people where the work is so refined it is interchangeable with their very presence.