#the50 is the first
fully-Tweetable primer for graduating creatives.

My name is Jamie Wieck and I decided to write #The50 Things Every Creative Should Know (#the50) when I realised I was not the first, nor the last student to fear the leap between art college and the creative industry.

Inspired by my own, and my friend’s (sometimes rocky) experiences within the creative industry, #the50 addresses the most common concerns held by graduating creatives and aims to bridge the gap between art college and the professional world.

Each piece of advice has been written within 140 characters and features a consistent hash-tag, making them easy to share across Twitter.

Following its previous publication on my website, #the50 now has a permanent home at the-50.org — I hope its advice proves useful for many years to come.


You are not the first

There are very few ‘firsts’ these days. Countless others have started studios, freelanced and requested internships. It can be done. #the50


There is always
someone better

Regardless of how good you are, there will always be someone better. It’s surprisingly easy to waste time worrying about this. #the50


Success is not
a finite resource

College fosters a zero-sum mentality: that someone has to fail for you to succeed. In truth, another’s success doesn’t limit yours. #the50


You cannot score
without a goal

If you don’t know what you want, then how can you pursue it? Having a goal defines an end point, and subsequently, a place to start. #the50


Starting anything
requires energy

It takes more energy to start than it does to stop. This is true for physics, your career, and that idea you need to work on. #the50


The path to work
is easier than you think

To get into the industry you need just three things: great work, energy and a nice personality. Many forget the last attribute. #the50


Have a positive self-image

Your self-perception is your most important asset. See yourself as the person you want to be and others will see this too. #the50


Create a clean
and simple website

An online portfolio is the alpha and omega of your career. With a wealth of web services, there’s no excuse for not having a website. #the50


Curate your work

Never stop editing your portfolio. Three strong pieces are better than ten weak ones – nobody looks for quantity, just quality. #the50


Listen to your instincts

If your work doesn’t excite you, then it won’t excite anyone else. It’s hard to fake passion for mediocre work – scrap it. #the50


Make your work
easy to see

People are lazy. If you want them to look at your work, make it easy. Most of the time employers simply want to see a JPG or PDF. #the50


Hand-write addresses

Clients, prospective employers and potential clients gravitate to letters with handwritten addresses. The personal touch goes far. #the50


Time is precious:
get to the point

Avoid profuse humour or gimmicks when contacting studios for work, they’ve seen it all before. Get to the point, they’ll be thankful. #the50


Never take
an unpaid internship

This is not a necessary evil – a studio that doesn’t pay their interns (at least the minimum wage) is a studio not worth working for. #the50


Do as many internships
as you can stand

Internships are a financial burden, but they are vital. They let you scope out the industry and find the roles that suit you best. #the50


Don’t waste your internship

A studio’s work can dip, as can its energy. Ignore this and be indispensable, the onus is on you to find something that needs doing. #the50


Make friends with a printer

A good relationship with a printer is invaluable – they will help you save money and the environment. #the50


Find your local D.I.Y. store
and pound shop

D.I.Y. and pound shops are great resources of cheap, ready-made artifacts ripe for tinkering, re-decoration and re-contextualisation. #the50


Be patient

It’s not unusual to complete several internships and not find ‘a good fit’. Try applying to a studio you hadn’t considered. #the50


Ask questions

Assume nothing. Ask questions, even if you think you know the answers. You’ll be surprised at how little you know. #the50


Ask for opportunities

It will feel cheeky, but ask for things. Ask to be included in exhibitions, magazines, pitches – if you don’t ask, you can’t get. #the50


Seek criticism, not praise

You learn nothing by being told how great you are. Even if you think your work’s perfect – seek criticism, you can always ignore it. #the50


Make friends, not enemies

The creative industry is a small world: it’s a network where everyone knows everyone else. Remember this before pissing someone off. #the50


News travels fast

A good intern will find their reputation precedes them. Jobs are nearly always offered on this word-of-mouth evidence. #the50


Don’t get drunk
at professional events

There’s a difference between being ‘merry’ and ‘paralytic’. The latter costs you your dignity, your reputation and possibly your job. #the50



There’s some truth in ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’. Talk to people, send emails; at the very least sign up to Twitter. #the50


Dress smart,
look business like

Take your work seriously? Then take your appearance seriously. Clients are more likely to deal with people who look like they care. #the50


Never work for free

Working for free not only devalues the profession, but it makes you look weak. Even a ‘nice’ client will take advantage of this. #the50



If you really have to work for nothing, negotiate. Clients and studios have access to many resources that can be viewed as ‘payment’. #the50


Read contracts

Never sign a contract before reading it. Subsequently, don’t begin any job without a contract – you may have to write one yourself. #the50


Make your invoice stand out

Businesses are deluged with invoices. Make yours stand out with colour or shape and it’s likely to rise to the top of the ‘pay’ pile. #the50


There’s no such thing
as a bad job

Always push yourself to do your best. Logically, there’s no way you can be dissatisfied with ‘having done your best’. #the50


There’s no such thing
as a bad client

The onus is on you to make a client relationship work, not the other way around. If it’s not working out, ‘fire’ them as a favour. #the50


Embrace limitations

Limitations are invaluable for creating successful work: they give you something to push against. From this tension comes brilliance. #the50


The environment
is not a limitation

The environmental impact of your work isn’t a fashionable consideration — as a creative, it’s your most important consideration. #the50


Boring problems
lead to boring solutions

Always interrogate your brief: re-define the question. No two briefs should be the same; a unique problem leads to a unique solution. #the50


New ideas are always ‘stupid’

New ideas are conceived with no context and no measures of success – this falsely makes them feel silly, awkward or even impossible. #the50


Do not underestimate self-initiated work

Clients get in touch because of self-initiated work. Ironically, business is excited by ideas untouched by the concerns of business. #the50


Justify your decisions

Clients fear arbitrary decisions — they want problem solving. Have a reason for everything, even if this is ‘post-rationalised’. #the50


Show sketches,
not polished ideas

Clients often mistake ‘rough’ digital work for the final design. Show sketches for as long as you can, it makes them feel involved. #the50


Work with the client,
not against them

You may think you’re right, but look at the client’s solution along with yours. Occasionally you’ll be surprised. #the50


Don’t always take no
for an answer

Fight for superior solutions. Demonstrate your thinking to your client, take them through it – it’s hard to argue with logic. #the50


Pick your battles

The creative industry is often infuriating, but not every argument is an argument that needs to be had. This takes time to learn. #the50


If you’re going to fail,
fail well

Being ambitious means you have to take on things you think you can’t do. Failures are unfortunate, but they are sometimes necessary. #the50


Be an auteur

Regardless of who you’re working with, speak up if something’s not right. Take it upon yourself to be the barometer of quality. #the50


Take responsibility
for failure

If a job’s going wrong take responsibility. It feels counter-intuitive, but responsibility means you can do something about it. #the50


Share your ideas

You’ve nothing to gain from holding on to your ideas; they may feel precious, but the more you share, the more new ideas you’ll have. #the50


Get out of the studio

Good design is crafted from understanding the relationships between things. These connections can’t be found when locked in a studio. #the50


Awards are nice,
but not vital

Awards look good on the shelf, but clients seldom pick up the phone because of them. Solid work encourages that. #the50


Don’t take yourself
too seriously

Take your work seriously, take the business of your craft seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously. People who do are laughed at. #the50



#the50 becoming #the100.

With over 1,000,000 visits and counting, #the50 has struck a chord with both students and established creatives across the world, inspiring many to submit their own advice for #the100 — an expansion of #the50.

#the100 will see 50 new points added to the original #the50, with advice contributed by some of the most respected creatives working in the world today.

For more information on #the100 sign up to #the100′s mailing list below or follow its progress on Twitter @_the100:


#the50 at D&AD New Blood

#the50 at
D&AD New Blood 2011

During the summer of 2011, #the50 hosted a very special panel at D&AD New Blood 2011, bringing established creatives from all disciplines to talk to students one-to-one on all aspects of life-after-college.

The panel included Anna Fidalgo (Crispin Finn), Richard Hogg, Sarah Jane Coleman (Inkymole), Luke Pearson, Jamie Wieck, Guy Moorhouse, Mathew Wilson (With Associates), Michael Bojkowski (ok interrupt), Mia Frostner (Europa), Emily Alston (Emily Forgot), Maggie Li, Jack Cunningham, Johnny Kelly, Steven Bateman and Justin Hobson (Fenner Paper)

To keep up-to-date with further events from #the50 — follow #the50’s sister stream, @_the100 on Twitter.