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How 2021 Shaped Up For Creatives With Fascinating Insight From 5 Industry Gurus

If constraints breed creativity, then the events of 2020, which have carried over into 2022, should be a golden opportunity for creatives. That largely wasn’t true in 2020, as people in the creative industry scrambled to make sense of the upheaval and tended to embrace tactical solutions of survival and ideas for growth. 

But the tide seemed to turn in 2021 and these creatives applied all they learned and took from 2020 into 2021. As the world saw light at the end of the tunnel with the pandemic, creative activities kick-started and creatives began to think big again, with some remarkable results.

We spoke to some of them and shared some of their thoughts, and several themes came through strongly. 

The first is that, despite everything, the creative industry emerged from the pandemic in broadly good shape. While the challenges can’t be understated, creative life goes on. And for many, the opportunities offered by remote working culture have been a boon, allowing these experts the chance to work with global brands and develop new ways of working.

The other has been surviving, let alone thriving, in an increasingly digital world. As a number of creatives have explained to us, it’s only work with purpose that stands out these days. The era of playing it safe is well and truly over, as audiences and clients demand not only improved products and services but ones with clear social and environmental values.

If 2020 was the storm that pulled our world apart, 2021 was the chance to start putting it back together and rebuilding. But what was it actually like for African creatives? RADR Africa spoke to five creatives on their wins and losses in 2021.

Cassandra Collins – Tech Sis, Content Creator, Social Media Manager

What would you consider your wins in 2021?

I had my first viral content last year, I made the most money off content creation and worked with some major brands like Johnnie Walker. got added to a bunch of PR lists I wouldn’t have been added to a year before. I had my first TV  fashion interview as well and advanced in my career working in tech. 

Do you celebrate yourself often?

I do not, but I’m learning and hoping to do more of that this year. Life is too short and we can’t always wait on the big wins before we celebrate. What if our life is a combination of all the tiny wins? What if we never have that “Big win”? Does it make our life any less of what it is? 

Can you take us through a period you felt low and how you bounced back from that?

My lowest point in life ever was losing my grandmother in October 2021. We had more of a mother-daughter relationship as I lived with her for the most part of my life and it was a huge blow to me. I don’t believe I have fully bounced back yet but I’m on the road of healing and recovery. 

What is your biggest lesson from 2021?

Live fully. Do all the things you want to do without waiting for the right time. There will probably never be the right time but just do it. 

Can you say that your experiences in 2021 made you a better creative? How?

Yes, it truly did. I know how I want to position myself as a brand for 2022. I know the things I can do better, I’ve identified my strengths, weaknesses and it’s only up from here. 

How do you intend to improve yourself this year, professionally and personally?

I plan to treat myself, as a brand, the way I treated all the luxury brands that I’ve worked with in the past. My goal is to do that for myself, build a stronger community, invest in myself and do everything I did well in 2021 ten times better. 

Peter Arte – Public Service Entrepreneur, Artist

What would you consider your wins in 2021?

Starting an art business, getting other people to experience my  passion while having fun with it. Getting members of Red Dish Chronicles to see Paint and Chill as a good addition to their regular events. Contacted by Zeebah Foundation to get children in the autism spectrum to paint and enjoy what therapy art can provide for them.

Do you celebrate yourself often?

Yes, I do (I now pronounce you man and wife). I do celebrate myself, mostly with burgers and sweet red wine. I am not that elaborate.

Can you take us through a period you felt low and how you bounced back from that?

The lows – It solely depends on which areas of one’s personal journey that they experience these lows. 

Careerwise, there is a tendency of not feeling up to par with certain peers. Another low is not experiencing progress, or the lack of assurance of progress – not seeing credible outcomes, disappointments, and financial losses. 

Bouncing back from a low is dependent on perspective and willpower. 

Perspective is simply how you view things, personally, I see lows as a learning experience, this is after the mopey feelings and glum has passed. Take a day or two, to reassess, reevaluate and analyze what went wrong. 

Now willpower creates control and other times restraints which is important. Go back to basics, reassure yourself of your skills, if there is a lack, acquire the necessary skills and progress.

What is your biggest lesson from 2021? 

The biggest lesson learned in the year, business wise – is the entitlement of certain individuals, who make opportunities seem like a favour to me, the business owner. 

I quickly learned to maneuver my way around those kinds of individuals. The business is solely customer service relation based, and being in such an industry, you have to learn how to deal with people’s nature as your customer.

Can you say that your experiences in 2021 made you a better creative? How?

I am not sure I can say that in context, unless referring to a creative approach to dealing with people. 

Individuals experience things differently, and knowing that nature and a bit of creativity is required to get people to get involved with what you are doing, especially with children, and more so children with autism.

How do you intend to improve yourself this year, professionally and personally?

I personally have this weakness of constantly comparing myself to others, and screaming to myself that I should not be at this certain phase. It is easy to get sidetracked by occurrences around you.

 How I overcome this  is using knowledge in physics, the Brachistochrone curve – all 3 balls will get to the same destinations, at different times, because of different routes, but it is still the same destination. 

Regardless, something to improve on, everyone is not the same, everyone’s race is different, hence stop comparing and using others to gauge yourself.

Anthony Azekwoh – Artist

What would you consider your wins in 2021?

My biggest win was definitely rediscovering myself and the power I had. I battled a lot with feelings of self doubt and inadequacy, but last year, I really had to face up to what I wanted to become. 

Do you celebrate yourself often?

Everyday I celebrate. I dance, sing, act silly. I am blessed to be where I am so even my bad days are gifts. Things could have gone so, so differently, but despite it all, here I am. Everyday for me is a new day to celebrate. 

Can you take us through a period you felt low and how you bounced back from that?

Painfully. It really works differently. I was in a bad spiral last year with alcohol and people — I just wanted to drown. When I’m sinking, I allow myself to hit rock bottom and then, I find the strength to lift myself up. 

What is your biggest lesson from 2021?

That I am in control of my life and destiny, nobody else is responsible for me. It’s just me. 

Can you say that your experiences in 2021 made you a better creative? How?

Got heartbroken and so by the laws of creativity, I ultimately became 100 times better than I was. But [laughs], seeing things clearly for what they were and not what I wanted them to be did wonders for my process. 

How do you intend to improve yourself this year, professionally and personally?

I plan to relax a lot more this year and be more intentional in my work and also with the people around me. 

Life happens and keeps happening and that makes it hard to keep up with anything, but I’m trying to be better in all the spheres of my life to become not just a better creative, but a better man.

Rochelle Daphne – Musician

What would you consider your wins in 2021?

My wins of 2021 are based on a lot of self-reflection in the sense of reminding myself of my abilities and taking in the reality that I am surely powerful and can do anything. 

I tapped into different parts of myself and explored more than just music. I discovered I can act and did a few local Zambian ads and pushed myself to audition more. The win was knowing I can broaden my brand by pushing myself to do something I shy away from. 

I also encountered new people that are inspired by my style and music, it’s strange to feel like you live in your own bubble unseen and be recognised. 

Some of the highlights have been being part of the Lsk Culture collective and creating music that represents my home Lusaka Zambia. It has been beautiful to watch gradually how a group of young talented people can influence an entire city’s youth pop culture. 

But the biggest win of 2021 was being seen by the label I am currently signed to ‘Tilimo Entertainment’. I have been working with the best team with a vision for my music to come in 2022 and onwards, as well as my overall brand. I have great prospects for the near future and look forward to sharing it with Africa and the world soon.

Do you celebrate yourself often?

I definitely take time to celebrate. I buy myself little gifts or go out in the city with close friends or family. 

Can you take us through a period you felt low and how you bounced back from that?

As crazy as it may seem I like to laugh at myself in my lows. They say tragedy plus time is equal to comedy, except for me it’s funny in that moment. 

I try my best not to take myself seriously when I’m down, Not that I am not affected by how low I feel, I definitely feel it when I’m alone. But I find it kind of funny that over time what may feel like a low in the moment won’t last forever, and that’s how I bounce back. 

What is your biggest lesson from 2021?

My Biggest lesson of 2021 is not to doubt yourself, listen to that little voice telling you you’re in the wrong or right place and apply your intentions precisely.

When you walk in a room, and on your social media, do not shy away from who you plan to become. If you choose to embody it, you will manifest and see it. Work hard and work smart kids. 

Can you say that your experiences in 2021 made you a better creative? How?

From most of the experiences I had, 100% yes.

2021 taught me how to be a resourceful creative and new ways to have an outlet. It really painted a clearer picture of the world now and how to utilize tools at our fingertips and the importance of network.  

How do you intend to improve yourself this year, professionally and personally?

This year I will improve myself by tripling the amount of work I have been putting into becoming. 

This year, I have hope to become. I will be working on my music with new and improved quality and sound. I’ll seize opportunities to create effective networks that understand and believe in the vision I have for myself.  

This will be my third year as a recording artist and I’m beyond excited to show everyone what I have been working on. 

I plan on not extending time to recuperate so I have enough energy to keep going mentally,  physically, emotionally and spiritually. 

Nongov Kelvin – Documentary Filmmaker and YouTuber 

What would you consider your wins in 2021?

Finding my unique creative style of shooting videos,  landing profitable and reputable clients. Meeting important people within my industry.  Having the courage to pursue what I believe in. 

Do you celebrate yourself often?

Yes, I do, whenever I feel satisfied with a work. I go out and have beer with friends. That win could be something as basic as a video edit I am impressed with. 

Can you take us through a period you felt low and how you bounced back from that?

First, I do a deep introspection to understand what led to those lows. I spend as much time as possible finding the behavioral, psychological  environmental factors that led to that moment.  

As a coping mechanism, I believe that nothing really matters in the grand scheme of things. Time being the only true measure of things,  revealing what is true and false. So why should I fuss over something that won’t matter in say…a few days,  weeks,  months or years. We meuvve! 

What is your biggest lesson from 2021? 

There will always be a tangible reason not to create. So there is no perfect time or resources. As a filmmaker,  I learnt to work with what I have rather than what I wish I had. 

Can you say that your experiences in 2021 made you a better creative? How?

Yes, it made me a better person by shaping my mindset and understanding of what is, and more importantly, what can be. 

How do you intend to improve yourself this year, professionally and personally?

Professionally; I am vested in aggressive learning and practice. 

Personally: I intend to find time to love the people I love.

Author avatar
Collins Badewa

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