Do you really want a rock star?

As an independent creative swimming in the gig economy, I’m always on the lookout for new clients and new projects. When times are slow I turn to the job boards and I usually see a handful of posts that make me scratch my head. These posts are finely crafted to portray the company seeking a designer less as a business and more like a hot, trendy, superior club for the young creative elite. The barriers to entry are high and, inevitably, they request their applicants be “rock stars”. There’s nothing wrong with searching for the best talent out there with jargon that livens up boring old job posts. Perhaps the term “rock star” really does encompass the qualities these organizations desire in a worker bee. However, as a person with a big imagination, what this term conjures in my mind makes me wary.

I imagine Mick Jagger prancing past my desk and haughtily turning his nose up as I wish him a good morning. Or trying to discuss a project with Keith Richards passed out and slumped over in a desk chair. Or Axl Rose throwing a tantrum during a project review session and storming off over creative differences. At best I imagine a tortured-yet-talented-malcontent spinning personal demons into gold. But who wants to put up with those personal demons? Who has that much insurance?

Rock Stars don’t exist in a vacuum. They require a team to keep them looking, sounding and behaving their best. It takes managers, agents, publicists, writers, directors, handlers, assistants, supporting players, wardrobe, etc. The list goes on and on. Imagine all that effort just to keep one megalomaniac happy. Shouldn’t that focus be directed towards the client and the client’s project? I feel that the work should be the true star in the equation.

I’m not knocking my own talents, but if I’m going to take part in this rock star narrative, I’d rather be the producer – gathering ideas, collaborating with the team, and fine tuning the piece to perfection. Or the sound guy – making sure every note is clearly heard and it performs beyond expectations. Or the artist developing the poster art and tour t-shirts…that sounds perfect.