Expert advice: Building and sustaining a creative career

B. Jeffrey Madoff is the founder of Madoff Productions, based in New York City. He is also on the faculty at Parsons School for Design.
B. Jeffrey Madoff is the founder of Madoff Productions, based in New York City. He is also on the faculty at Parsons School for Design.

There is both professional and personal risk involved with aspiring for a creative career. Parsons School of Design faculty member and teacher of his self-designed course “Creativity: Making a Living With Your Ideas,” B. Jeffrey Madoff says: “Anyone pursuing a creative career should realize it’s a job. A fun job. However, discipline is essential and like an athlete, dancer or musician, practice and challenge yourself constantly to get better.”

How do you approach building a creative career with your students?
As a teacher, my job is to provoke, entertain, disrupt and educate. I crack jokes, make outrageous things up, call on students randomly to include everyone in the discussion and most importantly, create an environment where the students will feel safe so they will not be afraid to speak up.

What would you say to someone who believes they have failed at making a creative career work?
It’s important to define what failure is for you. If a person has failed in their pursuit, it’s important to understand why. Failure can be a terrific learning experience. Failure to me, is not trying. As long as I keep trying and keep learning, I haven’t failed.

What are some motivational tips for people wanting to get a creative career underway?
Motivation is why you do something: for money, fame, approval, and satisfaction. It’s up to the person to keep themselves motivated by what they hope to get out of what they do. One can be supported and encouraged by others, but the motivation has to come from within. Creativity to me is a passion to affect change. Passion is internal. Follow your passion.

Are there ways to take a current career and make it creative?
Frank Zappa defined music as “any sound you can control.” It’s all about how you look at what you do and how you act on it. Music, painting, boxing, mathematics; everything can be creative or drudgery. A creative person discovers the ways to make what they do interesting.

Starting a creative career requires these things:

  • The clarity to determine where and how one wants to apply their creative efforts.
  • An awareness of the distinctive difference they can bring to that pursuit and the ability to articulate that difference to the gatekeeper you need to get through, e.g. investors, employers, consumers, etc.
  • The knowledge that there is a market for what it is they want to create.
  • Not being paralyzed by the fear of risk or failure because if you are afraid of either you will never do anything interesting.
  • Thick enough skin to persevere through the inevitable rejection and criticism you’ll receive.
  • The realization that whatever you create it is separate from you. Criticism and rejection shouldn’t be taken personally.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Sister of accused Boston Marathon bombers arrested for…

The sister of the accused Boston Marathon bombers was arrested in New York City for threatening a woman over the phone, saying she could "put a bomb on you," police…

Local

Mayor announces public housing improvements

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the Lincoln Houses in East Harlem on Wednesday, calling for the scaffolding to come down at NYCHA complexes across…

National

Peter Theo Curtis: American released by Syrian militants…

An American writer freed this week from two years in the captivity of insurgents in Syria spoke briefly outside his family's Cambridge home Wednesday of…

Local

Bratton defends 'broken windows' work as NYPD support…

Sixty percent of those polled said they support the "broken windows" theory approach popularized by Commissioner Bratton since his first term in the 1990s.

Television

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

Season 11’s top four dancers gave their final performances before America’s Favorite Dancers are announced next week.

Going Out

Labor Day in NYC: Make the last weekend…

Soon, it’ll be time for wool accessories and knee-high boots. Even the Pumpkin Spice Latte has already arrived — but we still have one last…

Going Out

Things to do this week in NYC, Aug.…

MUSIC The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, www.electriczoofestival.com The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees…

Going Out

5 things to do this weekend in NYC

The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, www.electriczoofestival.com The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees expected. David Guetta,…

NFL

Mario Manningham on the bubble as Giants play…

Former Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham hopes his second go-around with Big Blue doesn’t end with Saturday’s final cut day.

NFL

Source: Stephen Hill 'faces a battle' to make…

A team source says Stephen Hill, who has battled injuries and poor performances during his first two years, is no lock to make the Jets’ final roster.

Sports

Serena Williams leaving legacy of talented American women…

It seems only a matter of when, not if, Serena Williams will win her 18th career grand slam championship.

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…

Sex

The 10 types of people you meet online

Does it ever seem like online dating profiles tend to get a little repetitive? It turns out you are not the only one to have…