Imposter Syndrome: a poem

It’s a common thought as a creative to believe you are an imposter; not worthy of the work that lays before you. I’m probably an imposter of poetry, so who even knows ey?


I didn't make this,
I could not have made this,
I took it from Erika,
Or David or Chris.
I like it,
Clearly, it's good,
But I could not,
Have made good, great or more.
I'm an imposter,
A fake, a liar, a prepostor,
I am no creative,
These ideas are stolen,
A thief, true and native.
This line is Picasso,
This type is Spiekermann,
That colour is Myerscough,
The signs of a plagiarism,
Or that of a fan?
Perhaps creativity isn't original at all,
Perhaps I'm building myself for a fall,
You can only create what you know,
You know what of what you've seen,
Of the books you read,
Of the music heard and exhibitions been.
To be fake is to be what one is not,
To create is striking the iron when hot,
Dali stole, Turner stole and Goldsworthy stole,
Creativity isn't pure and whole.
Draw the line,
Between inspiration,
To be a true imposter,
Creating fine creation.

Every now and then, I do like to write a bit of poetry on the blog—even if it proves slightly less useful than a structure essay like usual. Here, in rhyming verse I’ve pointed the finger at a creative mindset known as Imposter Syndrome, where you believe that all your work is good not because you’ve made it that way, but instead you’ve stolen it from somewhere else.

But here’s the problem, all creativity is stolen. Picasso famously said “Good artists copy; great artists steal” but even that could be a plagiarism. So either way, I guess it proves his point.

Just the Tip: Mindfulness

Mindfulness, I’m not talking about creating an Ohm at your desk, but taking a minute out—makes a world of difference.

I recently started a new job, and that job required me to work as a Graphic Designer—exactly what I’ve been doing for the past four years, so it shouldn’t be too hard should it? I know how to design things, and that’s why I was hired but what happens when you have internal panic, blocking all normal process? Nothing. Nothing happens.

Well, nothing useful anyway. Day to day, I could create endless shapes and forms in the lunch break as sort of creative cathartic release, but my work was lacking and I was just six steps away from being completely useless. In the pressure to be the best I could be for my new employers, I created abundances of stress for myself, clouding my head with anxiety and dread—not a common state for someone as laissez-faire as me. I had let the fear of not achieving, stop me for actually achieving anything.

I was so bogged down in fear that I was forgetting simple changes, mishearing easy instructions and basically creatively vomiting onto various Adobe software packages. It took two days away for my birthday, an honest and frank chat with the employers and a seismic shift in mindset to break free of the original Walden Creative Block ’17 Edition.

I’ve never needed to rely upon actively seeking mindfulness but now that I’ve employed it once, it’s become a great process for fixing issues before they’ve gripped a hold. So, should you need a space for your brain to do feck all every now and then, read on my beauties.

Tip 1: Get out, stay out and then return

Like a design based Jedi, piss off for a bit and come back—dependant on your availability upon the annual ‘Piss Off for a Bit’ calendar. If at most you can get 2 weeks, then go to Mexico and pretend not to see the crippling poverty you are facilitating in your enclosed holiday bureau and if you can merely get a longer lunch; go to that nice place with the slightly more fancy napkins and order that £22.50 dish that has no place being so darn expensive, because either way you’ll have mentally distracted yourself enough to slowly begin the worm-like process of exiting the dark hole of creative struggle.

Tip 2: Getting from place to place, opens space for the mind to race

I find that I get my most free times mentally when I’m carrying myself down an ever constant path of repetition that I don’t need to focus on where I’m heading, leaving time for focus on my head. From podcasts to music, if chosen correctly, you can zone out just enough to get where you need to but focus almost exclusively an external source you decide upon.

Tip 3:  It’s about the needing for reading

Now, this is quite a personal tip, but if you find yourself stuck in the loophole of blocked ideas; it can’t hurt to try. Reading any good book requires one thing of its reader – absolute concentration – which mimics exactly that of Yoga, Meditation or most Cult-based activities. I would recommend non-fiction as you learn as you do it and you needn’t imagine characters or places but if it comes to a pinch, I wouldn’t turn down a good Harry Potter book.

p.s. if you are actually interested in using reading for mindfulness, as a creative I cannot recommend anything more highly than Penguin’s Great Ideas collection. There are now about 100 of these short books, all with beautiful covers and extracts of not-so-ironically great ideas.

Tip 4: Lunch is a break

It’s called a lunch break for a reason, so have a break, a walk, a run or a half hour cutting various shapes from sugar paper. The latter is my creative break, for when I have the time I make whatever shapes are spinning around my cranium; it’s now developed into a bit of a thing of its own, under the branding of #lunchhour. A range of quick projects that set me free, it’s rather fun.

So if making random crap isn’t your scene, get outside and actually break from work. We have a lunch break because science defines we work better when we have breaks. Don’t check those emails and don’t pixel tweak, just bloody well get out that door!

Tip 5: Mindfulness doesn’t end at the workplace

Allow yourself to tune-out, allow yourself to do nothing, allow yourself to make creative work without boundaries and allow yourself to be mindful when you need to.

It may be a little obvious that for me, this blog is an external project to allow myself to stop thinking about producing design and start critiquing it, flipping stress and anxiety on its head and making myself the master of them. Give yourself time when you have the time to, it’s horribly refreshing to do nothing for a while.

It’s not all singing bowls and vibrating your centrifugal sounds, do what works for you, for your brain, for your life.

I am a hypocrite

What’s worse than being a hypocrite? Being a design hypocrite, of the result of your own blog writings.

It was merely weeks ago how I told all of you that I thought design competitions were a waste of time and now, here I am, hat in hand entering the GDFS Poster Competition. It’s both a difference in perspective and very bold hypocrisy—so I shall draw my case; guilty or not guilty, I leave it to you, the jury to decide. Bang the hammer, call the verdict and lock me away—I’m probably guilty anyway.

So, to appeal to your better nature I shall depict to you all my reasonings for why I am not guilty, for I may be a hypocrite but I shall fight tooth and nail not to be incorrect.

It’s different this time Like any good person driven down by an addiction, I believe in this instance for which I swore against is different, it’s different because the schematics of the competition operate differently and there isn’t a significant power imbalance.

There is no corporate interest Unlike in my previous writings, I had flamed big business for taking a large chunk of creative talent through desperation and hope, slicing away their ideas with the blunt blade of unpaid work. In this case, the competition is organised by a festival and the outcome of winning is exposure—real exposure, not the synonym for ‘free work’ we know it to be.

The work is not being stolen Any and all work submitted to the competition is not being taken to suit a real-world project. You can submit posters made in the past for previous projects, posters made for yourself or a poster designed specifically to celebrate the said competition—there isn’t anything to be taken as there isn’t any one thing to be made.

But wait, don’t slam down your gabble just yet; I know the noise is very satisfying but you’ve got to hear me out—you can’t just listen to the defendants and make your case, that’s not how we work in a liberal society. So please, hear me out—these are the reasons why I’m guilty, like a sharply hidden dog round the corner from a half-devoured toilet roll.

It’s not different this time I’m submitting work, to a competition where I know not who will handle my work, not who will judge it and have no idea what will happen to it—all on the promise of some money and exposure.

There is corporate interest Like any large body of design, there is corporate interest in what they do, what they are producing and how any business can incorporate themselves into these happenings to make their moral business compass point true ‘trendy’ north. Even if nothing is being taken and developed into a business idea, nothing exists for free and this competition certainly didn’t cost me anything pence to enter.

Your work is being stolen The end goal of this competition is to have your pockets lined, your work showed and people look upon the work that is shown. Those people are looking for fulfilment, happiness, inspiration and ideas; just alike any good weekend museum stroller. Though there is no direct, inspired theft, there is always to be passive idea pilfering because that’s how creativity works—especially any creativity that can come from observation.

Guilty or not guilty, I’ll let you decide. But we should understand that we are all hypocrites; it just depends on what topics you are being hypocritical of, to how much of a profanely branded vulva you are. Perhaps my values will make me say one thing about design opportunities and do another but if you are being hypocritical of serious matters, then you should have a rethink.

Like my tutor told me, and now I’m telling you, “I might be talking total bollocks, but that’s for you to decide”. If I say competitions are wrong, then you need to look into what I’m saying to see not whether I’m being habitually factual to rather whether you agree or not – or even – whether I’m actually talking bollocks altogether.