What I learned this year: 2018, Kalee Abella, Senior Art Director at Heat

By thesanfranciscoegotist / /

Yesterday we gave you the first of Heat’s “What I learned this year” submissions. Well today we have the second one. This look back on 2018 comes from Kalee Abella, Senior Art Director at Heat. (Kalee also did the illustration.) Enjoy!

In the creative industry, it’s easy to feel like your ideas are constantly getting killed, that time is being wasted on projects that you feel like you’re running in circles with, or being cornered into choices the client is asking you to do. I would argue that there is no such thing as wasted creativity. Even the worst or most painful project teaches us something.

Here are a few things that helped me realize that thinking creatively never goes to waste:

Originality is a Myth

There is no such thing as a completely new idea. Everything is inspired by something and is an inspiration to something else. Accepting this is essential to growing in the creative field. It also takes away from the constant pressure people feel in this industry to need to come up with the next big innovation. Ultimately, everything is recycled over and over again. It’s in how we use our inspiration and what we do with it that makes it memorable, respected and somewhat ownable.


“The Myth of Originality and the Joy of Copying” by Adrian Shaughnessy

“Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon


Trends Come and Go

Ideas and designs don’t follow a straight path. People may have perceptions on what is trending but trends come and go. Nowadays, what may be thought of as modern can actually be outdated while what may be thought of as old can actually be retro and fresh. Everything is eventually recycled.


Collective Consciousness 

The world moves together. Innovative thinking is imbued in society and creativity is constantly flexing and evolving. Simply put, the world will move the way it is meant to move and it’ll collectively grow the way it is meant to. If an idea doesn’t come to life the way you imagined it would, it will eventually do so in a different way or form. 


You’re Not Alone

Every artist has gone through rejection. Even the brightest of artists have gone through waves of insecurities. They all went through periods in which they felt that nothing was advancing. Those times are essential in the bigger picture. Without difficulties, there would be no progress.


Keep Playing

Even when ideas die. Even when it feels that nothing is happening. We still know for ourselves what we did and what went into our work – our own personal Behind-The-Scenes in which we stayed excited and curious, in which we tried to push the bar and to have some fun while doing it. Just that in itself is a victory. Creativity is never wasted when we still could have affected our own mind and the minds of the people around us, clients and colleagues in the process. 



  1. Kaye Sweaney December 14, 2018

    So true and well expressed. As a creative person I needed this reminder.

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