That time I had to think like a VJ.

About six years ago I was moonlighting as a VJ (video jockey) at nightclubs. It was a fun way to do some gritty, loose, ultra fast paced visuals that felt like a big departure from a lot of my corporate (hopefully polished) looking day job stuff.  Experimentation was key and mistakes didn't matter much if they blurred by in the blink of an eye.

Often clients will rely on vague buzz words to suggest a visual style. Some recurring favorites include: edgy, grungy, fast paced.  Sometimes they mean what they sound like. But often they mean only the faintest shade past some inside-the-box corporate safe zone.  Several times I found myself thinking "Do you mean your edgy or my edgy?".  I've actually asked it aloud a couple times.  There were times I delivered a first pass with my interpretation of the edge, grunge and speed I thought they wanted, only to hear a slightly off-put "Oh, well no, not THAT edgy." And after some back and forth and taking some edge off, the client saw something they were happy with.

But at least once the opposite happened. A long time client who knew me well personally and professionally, found an early draft to be less impactful than he had in mind. He said "Why don't you do some of your VJ style stuff on this?" And wham! the floodgates were open. Ideas I had self-censored got added in and gave the project much more energy and originality.

VJ work had let me stretch my creative muscles and play with unusual styles. I was wrong to think of that as something unrelated to my day job. Experimentation should be a first step on every design project. Self censoring might reduce the risk of getting it wrong but it doesn't increase the chances of doing something original and powerful. And sometimes even on what seems like a conservative creative brief, a there-are-no-rules attitude can go a long way to getting the best work.