On behalf of the Behance team, I am very pleased to serve as a guest editor for this issue of Format Magazine. Our team at Behance is helping creative professionals, from across industries, increase productivity and make ideas happen. Through the Behance Network (www.behance.net), we’re trying to help top creative artists showcase their work efficiently and broadly (as well as gather feedback, get found by recruiters, and develop their own professional networks).
We are also developing a few products to boost productivity in creative teams. As a team that seeks to highlight amazing creative achievements, we love Format and are proud to be a part of this issue.
“I have always been interested in productivity because I think that people focus too much on creativity.”
Format: Please discuss your work history prior to launching Behance.
Scott Belsky: While in college, I was very interested in all things related to organization, as well as re-designing the concept of the â€œresumeâ€ to better demonstrate the potential of creative professionals. I didnâ€™t feel like a black and white Word document was effective in presenting creative talent! After college, I somehow found myself working on Wall Street, focused on organizational issues and leadership development. I specialized in helping new, rapidly growing teams deal with the challenges that come along with growth. At night, I would try to leverage some of these skills for my friends in more creative and entrepreneurial roles. I found that, more than anyone else, creative leaders and teams struggle to push ideas forward.
I became very interested in the leadership and organizational struggles of the creative world. And, I am always pretty excited about the possible achievements when creative people actually make their ideas happen.
Format: Many people struggle with managing their own productivity; you help manage other peoplesâ€™ for a living. What initially interested you in productivity as a field?
Scott Belsky: It is a shame that most ideas never happen. I often think about the number of half-finished books in drawers, unfinished paintings, and brilliant ideas that will never happen. When ideas happen, it is not by accidentâ€“or because they are especially good. Creative people and teams are more likely to make ideas happen when they are organized and able to work and collaborate productively.
I have always been interested in productivity because I think that people focus too much on creativity. Creativity is an amazing gift, but perhaps there is some responsibility that comes along with creativity? Perhaps we all have an obligation to become a bit more disciplined and find ways to show our ideas some respect?
Format: Why is there so often a disconnect between idea generation and execution for most creative individuals and teams?
Scott Belsky: Thomas Edison said it best: “Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration.” For the creative professional, we would suggest that ideas are simply sparks in the realm of possibility; but the sparks often disappear as quickly as they occur. For a spark to actually catch fire, you need something flammable. We think that ideas gain traction through productivity and a value for organization. Rather than focus on creativity, our team is interested in the way you capture an idea, manage it over time, share it with others, develop it, and present it efficiently and professionally.
Format: Please discuss the importance of the Action Method.
Scott Belsky: As creative people, we struggle to simplify large ideas into actionable components. In reality, every project or occasion of creativity ultimately yields JUST three things: Action Steps (things you need to do), Reference Items (things you write down or keep as reference), and Backburner Items (things you want to do someday, but not today). The Action Method provides an action oriented structure for us to use in all creative endeavors.
The Action Method is also an attempt to increase productivity through design. Behanceâ€™s chief of design, Matias Corea, has taught me that revolutionary projects without design are worthless. People cannot manage the actions required in specific projects without being able to digest them visually and arrange them in an accessible way.
Format: When did you first discover the opportunity for the Behance network? How did the idea develop?
Scott Belsky: We were inspired by the lack of organization and productivity in the creative community and the reality that most ideas never happen. As we interviewed hundreds of creative professionals, we encountered lots of frustration and inefficiencies. Many brilliant designers, photographers, writers, and creative teams faced an ongoing struggle to present themselves professionally and push their great ideas to fruition. There was a need for tools to boost productivity and build networks. There was also a need for more accountability and feedback exchange.
We went through dozens of iterations and hosted multiple focus groups as we sought to develop a professional platform that top creative professionals from around the world would use to broadcast their latest works, collaborate, and connect with peers and potential clients.
Format: Why the creative community specifically?
Scott Belsky: Life is made interesting and the greatest problems are solved by creative people and teams.
Format: What is your day-to-day role at Behance?
Scott Belsky:Every day is different, but my work at Behance is focused on developing new products and services, communicating with the community in the Behance Network, and seeking to develop partnerships that help Behance move the ball forward.
Format: Behance isâ€”among other thingsâ€”part portfolio management, part recruiting base, part social networking site. To what degree does Behance reflect web 2.0 sensibilities?
Scott Belsky: We donâ€™t consider Behance a â€œtechnologyâ€ companyâ€“-or a company that creates stuff for creative people. Instead, we started with the problem that most ideas never happen. We realized that we wanted to boost productivity and help organize the creative world. And then after much research, we realized that people needed a robust platform-â€“-some sort of online networkâ€“to manager their careers. Along the way, we also recognized business opportunities to serve the agencies and companies that recruit creative talent. As for â€œweb 2.0,â€ I donâ€™t have a background in technology so I canâ€™t even keep track of what exactly web 2.0 includes!
Format: In university, you studied environmental economics. To what degree, if any, does Behance reflect or incorporate this education?
Scott Belsky: My interests in environmental economics stemmed from my love for the natural world and my fascination with business. The entire field of environmental economics is about developing reward systems for people and companies to do things that they wouldnâ€™t ordinarily do–things that they should ultimately want to do for good reasons. In some ways, the same principles apply to making ideas actually happen when your true guilty pleasure is to continue basking in idea-generation.
Specifically on the topic of the environment, Behance is working with a few partners to develop a few products and services that have the social good in mind. Nothing to announce yetâ€¦but stay tuned!
Format: You guest edited this issue of Format by selecting artists from the Behance Network. Please discuss your selections and why they stood out to you.
Scott Belsky: Lisa Black – Lisa was one of our first network members from New Zealand. Her sculpture is extremely uniqueâ€“and I often wonder how she pushed these ideas to fruition.
Lichtfaktor – This team of graffiti-artists-cum-photographic-mavens, based in Germany, helped establish an entirely new genre of artâ€“light graffiti. They have traveled the world and found incredible ways to leverage their talent.
Lincoln Mayne – I interviewed Lincoln Mayne a couple years ago when I was conducting early research for Behance. He is a perfect example of the power of a diverse background when it comes to a particular field of workâ€“especially fashion. He was formally trained as a sculptor in Perth, Australia. He has worked as an installation artist for the BBC, a designer for the London Toy Modeling Museum, a developer of interactive films for Madame Tussauds, and he taught himself how to sew and print.
Mikey Toledanoâ€™s tie collection is out of this world â€“ truly forward-thinking and well-presented.
Format: Whatâ€™s in Scott Belskyâ€™s backburner?
Scott Belsky: Ha! I have a very long backburner, but I seldom get to it these days! As many people know, I am obsessed with tools for organization and am fascinated by the growth of the Behance Network. I often think about what applications we might develop to make the Behance Network a more empowering platform for network participants.
More Info: http://www.behance.net