To start Red Lemon Club’s new series of interviews with industry professionals and gurus, I’m very excited to invite Scott Belsky, CEO and founder of creative network and company Behance, for a discussion on the creative industry.
Scott, who has been focused on working to understand how creatives can best organize themselves and their projects since the start of Behance, provides some fascinating insight into the origins of Behance and shares with us some useful knowledge on self-promotion, organization and relationship-building. He also reveals what he’s currently working on and what’s due to be released through Behance.
What made you decide to get involved in the creative industry?
There are two things that really inspired me:
1. The stuff that makes our lives interesting – the art, the design, and all of the original content – is all created by the creative professional community. But, unfortunately, creatives in particular face unique obstacles when it comes to actually making their ideas happen.
2. There is so much discussion in the creative world about inspiration and creativity, but very little discussion about organization and execution. I found this very frustrating. It seemed that creative professionals would become more effective – and thus benefit society even more – with assistance on execution, efficient self-promotion, and organization.
We created Behance with a very specific mission: To organize the creative world. We are not trying to increase creativity. On the contrary, we are trying to help creative leaders harness their own creativity and actually make ideas happen.
How did you think Behance would benefit creatives on first starting the site?
Our goal with the Behance Network was to maximize exposure and help organize the creative world’s work. When we interview some of the world’s leading recruiters and agencies, they complain about typical “portfolio sites” and how difficult it is to organize and navigate creative talent.
We developed Behance.net to be a neutral, powerful platform that organizes creative work based on location, field, and – to some degree – quality.
Behance.net is not designed to be a “social network”. We don’t use the word “friends” in Behance. Instead, the platform is designed to push careers forward. When you add a new project to your portfolio, it is automatically displayed in any other network you are a part of (such as AIGA or MTV) as well as other galleries, circles, and collections across the web.
You maintain complete control and ownership of your work, you select privacy and copyright settings, and you are always associated with your content.
We have already received incredible success stories from members who report “career-changing opportunities” that resulted from the Behance.net platform. And, we have some incredible new features and partnerships in the pipeline that will bring Behance.net to a new level.
How do sites like Behance allow creatives to promote themselves?
We believe that promotion should be an organic process. It’s not about sending unsolicited emails or self-promoting yourself on twitter. Instead, promotion should be about building respect.
As you build your “inner circle” in Behance.net – and more people and recruiters begin to follow your work – you will start to receive exposure and opportunities every time you publish a new project.
In Behance.net, you are represented by the quality of your work – not your connections or affiliations. We believe that this is a powerful mechanism that I have come to call “creative meritocracy.” You’ll see more on this in the future.
What, in your opinion, do creatives need to prioritze the most when it comes to getting their work seen?
Since I believe that the greatest marketing strategy in the creative world is building respect for your work, I think that all creatives should prioritize building relationships with their peers and potential clients.
This means exchanging feedback with others, taking part in industry conversations, and soliciting advice from others. These are all steps toward building relationships that could result in mutual respect.
What are your current projects?
My latest project – which took years – is my upcoming book Making Ideas Happen. After interviewing hundreds of creative leaders and teams that are especially good at making ideas happen, I have collected a series of insights that are critical.
They relate to organization, execution, marketing, and leadership capability.
I have also been very focused on the next generation of Behance’s products, including the Behance Network and Action Method, our online and offline productivity tools for creative professionals.
Thank you Scott!
I personally think Scott’s focus on harnessing ideas we already have, instead of always searching for new ways of increasing creativity is a very good one. This is one of the main things that make the difference between success and procrastination.
What does everyone think?