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Insider Advice on Pitching And Thriving in The Creative Industry

graphic with clipped art of light bulb and laptop with copy that says oitching your work

Strategies for pitching in the creative industry with confidence and securing your place in the creative landscape.

In the ever-evolving landscape of the creative industries, standing out to potential clients and collaborators is more crucial than ever. Whether you're an artist, designer, or digital creator, the ability to effectively pitch your work in the creative industry can mean the difference between being overlooked and achieving breakthrough success. But what makes a pitch memorable? How do you convey the quality of your work and its relevance and unique value to your audience?

In this article, we delve into the wisdom of seasoned creative professionals—art directors, brand managers, and digital experts—who have mastered the art of the pitch and carved out illustrious careers in the competitive creative sphere. They share their insider knowledge, from constructing compelling narratives that resonate with clients to leveraging the latest digital platforms to showcase their portfolios. 

If you're ready to elevate your pitches and make a significant impact in the art, creative, or digital world, read on for expert advice that can transform your approach and help you navigate the complexities of the industry with confidence.

Debbie Millman - Brand Director & Podcast Host of Design Matters


Debbie Millman is an American writer, educator, artist, curator, and designer who is best known as the host of the podcast Design Matters. When it comes to pitching, Millman has some great advice, “I believe that selling your ideas is as important as having them. If you are not able to sell your ideas, then nobody's going to ever know that you have them. If you haven't taken a presentation training class, I urge you to take one. I urge you to take a class wherein you are being videotaped while you present. It will horrify you. You will come out of that experience devastated, but you will learn all the things that you don't know that you don't know.”

Millman adds, “Sometimes understanding the intentions are more important than the results. If you don't know why you chose this typeface, this color, or this order of things... Then how is anybody else going to understand? Even if you have to re-engineer the reasons why, then re-engineer the reasons why. Come up with a sense of, what was the strategy behind this work, in the same way that you're coming up with a strategy for your benefit. What was the reason that I designed this, this way? Ultimately, presenting your work, presenting your ideas is a skill that you have to master in the marketplace. Otherwise, if you cannot articulate what is special and unique about you and what you've done, nobody is going to magically be able to understand it.” 

Jacob Cass – Freelance Graphic Designer


Jacob Cass is a highly successful freelance graphic designer who runs the blog “Just Creative.”  When it comes to pitching your work, Cass says the first thing you must do is know your audience. “Before brainstorming ideas for your presentation, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who am I presenting to?

  • What problems are they facing?

  • What can I do to solve those problems?

  • What’s the best way to reach out to them?

  • Will they resist and how?”

Next, Cass recommends creating high-impact slides. “Planning a presentation involves coming up with a template or design that you think will appeal to your audience the most. Remember, designing is to create order out of chaos. The more thought that goes into the presentation’s design, the less chaos and misunderstanding there will be,” Cass says.

Paula Scher — Art Director and Principal at Pentagram

Paula Scher is a highly influential graphic designer and art director, renowned for her expansive career in the field of design. When it comes to meeting with and presenting her designs to the client, Scher admits that it’s actually one of the most difficult steps for her design process. Often, the client will be skeptical to accept the initial design immediately. “They want proof that this is really, really, gonna work, the problem is that there isn’t proof. It’s how people see, perceive, and accept things,” Scher explains

“Re-designing a corporation's identity will often come as a shock to a client, who is used to seeing their brand represented in a certain way. They may even react negatively to your proposals at first. People are naturally comfortable with the familiar, and any deviation, even if it is for the better, will take some getting used to. Scher’s advice is to anticipate this reaction and prepare your client in advance so that they are more open to seeing something new and different. Luckily, she also believes that people today are much quicker at coming around to new ideas than they used to be,” Scher says.

Glenn D. Lowry – Gallery Director at MoMA 

The MoMA Director, Glenn Lowry gives advice on how to make your way in this industry when so often there are more no’s and more let downs than wins, “Be willing to take chances, and go around the world, travel. Follow your muse, in a sense. I think that’s really the defining characteristic: it’s a sense of passionate commitment. If you’re ambivalent, it probably means that it’s going to be very difficult. That may be true for any field, but I think it’s especially true in a field where the rewards are essentially psychic. If you go into law, medicine, or any of the more regularized professions, even if you’re unhappy with your work, it’s going to produce a quality of life and certain benefits that might be compensatory. If you go into the arts, you’re going into it for a kind of psychic and emotional kick. Because the rest is not going to be compensatory, by and large (though I hope that changes). So you have to really want that psychic kick, you have to really believe that that’s what’s driving you.”

Meg Lewis — Founder of Ghostly Ferns and Designer

@ghostlyferns @yourbuddymeg

Meg Lewis is a designer, educator, and speaker known for her vibrant personality and unique approach to design that emphasizes happiness and fun. She specializes in creating brand identities, websites, and experiences for clients seeking to make the world happier. We think Meg is pretty great and also really enjoyed what she had to say about advice, “Designers love to give advice. I’m the anti-advice giver. Don’t listen to me and don’t listen to others if it doesn’t feel right.” It’s a great reminder that there is a lot of advice out there, and at the end of the day, you have to do what feels authentic to you.

Mastering the art of the pitch is not just about showcasing your creativity; it's about strategically connecting your vision with your clients' needs and expectations. The insights shared by the art directors, brand managers, and digital experts in this article illuminate the path toward more impactful presentations and deeper client engagements. By constructing narratives that captivate, embracing technology to enhance your presentations, and continuously refining your approach based on feedback, you can not only meet but exceed the expectations of those you aim to impress. 

As you apply these expert tips and techniques, remember that each presentation is an opportunity to evolve and perfect your craft, moving one step closer to the breakthrough success you seek in the creative industry. Let these lessons empower you to pitch confidently and creatively as you carve your niche in this dynamic field.


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Author: Hannah Heine

Editor: Jenn Hart

Art: Olivia Hepner

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Hart House Creative, its employees, partners, The Squeeze, and guest writers make no guarantees for results. Methods and marketing suggestions are based on prior knowledge and with the intent to inspire business owners and other creatives. Every client is different with different goals. None will be held liable for any negative results achieved from implementing suggestions from our website.

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