The New York entrepreneur discusses the creative network and Adobe
The Behance Network is a creative platform that allows talented people to showcase their work to a massive audience. Today we have the privilege of interviewing the founder of Behance, acclaimed entrepreneur and author Scott Belsky.
Following Adobe’s acquisition of Behance, Scott Belsky is now the Vice President of Creative Community at Adobe and in this exclusive interview, we discuss his journey to becoming one of the most significant figures in the creative industry.
What made you want to start a creative network like Behance?
The idea behind Behance was inspired by the frustration expressed to me by so many friends in the creative world. They complained about the endless obstacles (both external and internal) that inhibited their progress.
In the early days, we were just trying to solve a problem. Creative careers suffer from inefficiency, disorganisation, and a lack of attribution for their work. Behance was a series of experiments to solve this problem. Of course, over the years certain efforts have thrived, and the business has become more focused. Our team is now most focused on building out the capacity to showcase and discover creative work on Behance.
What sort of stumbling blocks did you encounter in the early stages of developing the platform?
Countless challenges. New challenges every day. Still.
On the business side: My greatest fear in the early days was always about building the business fast enough to support the team. Once you convince brilliant minds to become colleagues – and depart normal careers to help make a grand idea happen – you bare a great burden. Building a team breeds a fear of failure that is beyond your own consequences.
Over the years, I have overcome this fear through transparency and constant communication with the team. We make tough decisions together, and we recognise the various compromises we make for long term achievements.
As for building the platform itself: We had a lot to learn both on the technical and design sides. I would say that we fundamentally “redid” Behance at least twice before getting it right,
Is the Behance site as it is now similar to how you envisioned it in the beginning, both regarding content and usage?
For the most part, yet. But I don’t think we ever realised the quality of the talent that would be a part of Behance – and the real impact we would make on lives. Every morning, when I log into Behance and browse my activity feed, I am blown away (and humbled) by the calibre of stuff our members create. When you take a step back and just observe people using a product that your team laboured over – and debated endlessly – it is truly rewarding. My favourite moments at Behance are when we get stories from folks in the community that found a new partner/collaborator/client or got discovered by a journalist on Behance. It makes 6+ years of self-doubt and long nights feel worthwhile!
Several creatives have gained rapid and vast exposure after being featured on the network, several of whom have sat in Creative Chair, but is there any person or team that you think has really harnessed the power of the network regarding exposure?
Honestly, too many stories to single out just one success story (although there are many here)
As for the work itself, I’m not supposed to have favourites… But I have started some small collections over the years of projects I really enjoyed; with collection titles like “Extremely Clever Work” and “Some Favorites“.
Was acquisition by Adobe and easy decision to make?
Such a big decision is never easy. However, the opportunity and dream seemed to get bigger as we jumped into Adobe’s strategy and plans for Behance. This was a good sign since our team had no interest in “exiting” our business or long-term goals.
Scott Belsky, what changes can we expect to see from Behance in the coming months?
We’re very focused right now on perfecting the user experience of showcasing and discovering creative work. We’ll make making some major improvements to the Activity Feed itself, the technology behind search, and adding some exciting features that help people connect.
We’re also working on deeper integrations into the creative process itself. Now, as part of the Adobe family, we have access to the “crown jewels” – the desktop products – as well as the potential to enhance Creative Cloud services. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by where all of this ends up…
What does the word Behance mean (if anything)?
Behance comes from the word “enhance” – to make better, and the desire to “Be” yourself – authentic creative expression paired with enhancing the way you work, your own career prospects, and how you connect with the broader creative community.
And finally, if you died and were reincarnated as a song, what would that song be?
Hard to say. I’m an introvert, serious by default – but also adventurous; I suspect it would be something intense – with promise yet a sense of melancholy. Perhaps your readers will suggest a song that fits in the comments! ;-)