In the insightful words of Guy Kawasaki, entrepreneur and former fellow at Apple Computer Inc, “The root of great companies is to make meaning versus. make money.” A cornerstone of creative entrepreneurship is making meaning and crafting meaningful experiences for your stakeholders, whether they be clients, investors, or employees.
In earlier articles I explored the use of archetypes as a creative device for entrepreneurial meaning-making. This article examines the use of pictures. Creating and using pictures does not require the ability to produce high-art masterpieces. Anybody can develop the basic skills for picture making, and certainly anyone can use pictures for the purpose of creative meaning making.
Pictures for growth
So, how could pictures be useful to you as a creative entrepreneur? The possibilities are endless, and I would encourage you to brainstorm some ideas of your own, as these are likely to be more useful for your business than my examples. While doing this, consider the following activities which are essential to any entrepreneurial endeavour:
- Creating new products and services
- Branding and marketing
- Communicating, and engaging with others
- Sustaining creative energy
Pictures enhance all of these activities. They can be used to create both physical and digital products such as books, DVDs, t-shirts, jackets, posters, calendars, greeting cards, coffee cups, and boardgames. They can form components of services such as course-ware, slide-shows, and workshops. Even if such product or service items are not your central offerings, they can still be used to promote, brand, and market your business, and to ensure a constant flow of communication and visibility with key stakeholders.
In a world of information overload, a few pictures accompanied by short entertaining text carries your website message more effectively than purely textual content. Add a YouTube video you composed from appropriate images, and you have a winning combination. Finally, creating vision-boards and thought-pictures are great ways of focusing and sustaining your entrepreneurial energies.
There are several options for obtaining pictures to use in your creative meaning-making endeavours. These include:
- Creating them yourself, or tailoring them to your specific requirements
- Purchasing them
- Using free public domain pictures
- Using free pictures with an appropriate Creative Commons license
Purchasing stock photography usually means high quality, but the costs can also be high. Free public domain images and pictures with a Creative Commons Attribution license can be a great alternative. Some online sources I’ve used are: Flickr, Wikimedia, public-domain-image.com, and fromoldbooks.org. But sources abound, and are constantly changing, so my advice is to do a quick Google search using your specific keywords together with “public domain images” or “creative commons images.” Once you have the images you need, you can edit, compose, and tailor them to your specific needs using such free tools like Gimp (gimp.org) and Inkscape (inkscape.org).
While the scope of this article does not allow a discussion of legal issues, I would encourage you to gain an understanding of copyright implications for the use of any image you may be considering. Here again, a Google search and some reading can get you up to speed fairly quickly.
The phrase “A picture paints a thousand words” is an often heard cliché, but it is one which carries a considerable amount of truth, and dare I say meaning, for the creative entrepreneur.