Top 10 things we’ve learned about creativity from 10 years in Stock media.
2023 marks a milestone for us at Stocksy — as we celebrate 10 years of disrupting the stock media industry. Over the last decade, tremendous changes in the industry have stretched standards and artistic possibilities in every way possible.
To mark this occasion, we’ve drawn on dozens of interviews with our artists and compiled a list of the indispensable values and advice they’d offer creatives today.
Here’s what we’ve learned so far — our top ten creative insights for the next decade.
1 – Never underestimate your audience
Over the years we have found that our audience of marketers and creatives want to be surprised and challenged. They aren’t looking for stock content that looks like stock content — i.e. predictable, mainstream, formulaic, generic, or safe.
Our community has proven time after time that creativity, intention, and care can be brought to even the most “unsexy” staple stock subjects. Check out our Raw Cuts Business Gallery as an example of how even tired stock conventions like “businesswoman working on laptop” can be innovated in a fresh, exciting, and contemporary way.
2 – Exercise discretion with trends
Stylistic preferences come and go and can move quickly. What was HOT yesterday might be NOT today (remember those coffee tints and fades that were all the rage a few years ago? Remember the pineapple thematic?)
In creative visual fields, we have to be adaptable to these evolutions and observe and anticipate the changing needs of the market, but at the same time, we should aim for evergreen quality and lasting cultural relevance in everything we do.
It’s important to balance consciousness of changing aesthetics but not bend to every micro-trend that rolls through.
3 – Creativity is a journey
It takes serious work and time (and some degree of success and failure) to find one’s own true artistic voice and creative interests.
You’ll know it when you get there. Until then, keep experimenting and stay curious about what has worked well, what brings you joy, and what motivates you to create. Everyone’s journey is different.
4 – Be true to thyself
We like to remind our artists that everyone accepted to Stocksy is selected for their unique vision and talents. We can’t stress enough the importance of trusting in this, and to resist feeling like anyone should adopt a certain look or feel, take up a different genre, or feel pressure to make what they might perceive to be more “on-brand” or more commercially savvy content.
There is no genre-hierarchy and the world absolutely needs more original, authentic, weird, and wonderful perspectives. All forms of production and expression are equally valued and give our collection its vital depth and breadth — which is why our clients choose us.
5 – There is no right way
Every discipline comes with a certain amount of dogma about what is and what is not correct technique, form, process, and equipment. It’s easy to get caught up by thinking “I’m not a real photographer because don’t have X camera” or “no one will buy this because the focus isn’t perfect.”
We’ve found that clients are far more interested in the emotional and conceptual properties of a piece of work than its technical qualities. And besides, encountering technical challenges is a stepping stone to progress.
Instead of getting bogged down by the pursuit of technical perfection or the right gear, use what you have on hand. Learn and advance through practice, patience, and experimentation. You might be surprised by what turns out to be your most successful work.
6 – Find community and seek mentors
Creative work can be a lonely business so having people in your network to discuss ideas with and share feedback is a wonderful way to develop your practice and have fun along the way.
We’re lucky to have a thriving community where photographers, artists and videographers can do just that. Stocksy’s community forums and Discord server are fantastic way for our members to expand their skill set in supportive and collaborative environments.
7 – Stay inspired
Never wait for inspiration to strike. Inspiration doesn’t just happen all by itself, it’s part of the job. Everyone has their own methods for getting past creative blocks or expanding their imagination, and more often than not they are asymmetric to the task at hand.
Music, museums, exhibitions, TV shows, books, magazines, and curated sites, all in their own way give us clues about what’s going on in the world and connect us to common threads. They also might spark an idea for a formal innovation or present an alternative point of view.
So the more open, probing, and receptive we are to all media, the more available we are to receive inspiration from unexpected places.
8 – Do your homework
Study visual culture in all of its forms — as you encounter it online or on TV, in museums, books, and magazines, or out-of-home media and advertising. Analyze the success of your own work (what has sold, how the work is used) to understand what your unique value is and how it may service different audiences and end-uses.
If you’re hitting a creativity block, head over to our series called Stocksy Currents examining the trends in marketing & design.
9 – Embrace the long road
Ultimately, to be successful in stock, It doesn’t matter how talented you are. Like any job, creative production to service a market requires consistency, productivity, and investment. Success also doesn’t happen overnight. Stock is a long game so you’ll need the patience to see results.
10 – Creativity is infinite, and opportunities are endless
Don’t be afraid you’re going to use it all up. Dive in and don’t hold back — the more you tackle new challenges and ideas, the more you’ll grow. A growth mindset is essential to success in the creative industry.