I have always been a naturally shy and reserved person – especially in a work sense. I do not like attention – I would much rather ply my trade in the dark, do great work and still see the work shine in public. At that stage, if anyone asks who done or contributed to the work, I can get the relevant shine if necessary but it’s never been the motivation. I think that is the playmaker mentally – do whatever you can to help the project or client impact as best they can, keep your eyebrows down, just focus on mastering the work and then things will progress naturally. I have worked with that mentally for over 15 years but although I do believe that it is often the right way, I have recently been thinking perhaps there needs to be a slight adjustment with that approach.
Over the past 2-3 years (likely facilitated a bit by the pandemic) I have been reviewing my work, my career goals and focuses. I spent time listening to a lot of feedback and advice from many people I really respect and value about my work, career and potential areas of growth. I quickly noticed a pattern – people (in fact potential clients) weren’t always clear what I do / could do, what projects I had worked in (and in what way) and what my offer was / could be. Sometimes these discussions were quite brutal but always enlightening and interesting. I must insert here that everyone said the work they knew me for was brilliant, impactful and progressive but there was just a lack of clarity. I had to pause to understand how things got to this point and also how I was going to move forward.
On reflection, I realised for a long time, due to the nature of my work and lack of desire to PR myself and my work, I had allowed my ‘roles, titles and positions’ to be shaped by clients or partners and the sphere I was in. A general feeling of ‘Yaw you can do this, so will you do (insert role) for this (insert project)’. In itself this is not a negative – it’s nice to know you can do lots of different things and people want you to contribute and I have delivered and enjoyed the variety of projects. But I have sometimes sensed that I was being shaped into roles that I wasn’t necessarily 100% comfortable with being beholden to. So no I wasn’t – and am not – an A&R, radio producer, label owner, artist manager, content creator, operations manager, D&I advisor or promoter in the traditional sense – but many times I allowed the narrative to be shaped around those roles. So certain people knew me as one of these, and concurrently in different spheres I was seen as others.
So building on this I started to look at what was the thread that ran through what I had done, done well and felt empowered me to bring something to the table that was uniquely ME. That process led me to summise, that I am, professionally, a creative consultant who designs and builds music projects that integrate music, culture and content production that deliver long-term impact for creatives, brands, organisations and communities. Within that I strongly focus on work that is about empowering and platforming under-represented voices, cultures and stories in order to strengthen and bolster the art, media and culture we consume. And within that professional guise I can often work across artists projects, creative directing music projects, designing and delivering talent development initiatives, designing marketing campaigns for brands, editorially guiding and producing content or projects or curating events. And that is the sweet spot. My sweet spot. And the sweet spot that I have a responsibility to start communicating to anyone that cares. Not only to help potential clients, collaborators and colleagues know what I do and what they can come to me to work on BUT also so I know what my priorities are, what I want to do and I suppose, more specifically, where I know I can add a lot of value. The space that I can work towards mastering.
So this brings me to here – the launch of byyawowusu as a portfolio platform (and connected insta) to underscore what I do and am doing and the level of personal commitment and value I bring to the table – regardless of company name or project it sits under. byyawowusu underpins that what ever project or initiative I am working on, I believe in it, I’m IN it and that I am putting my name to the work and that work is a reflection of me, my values and creative viewpoint. Also it helps me hold myself accountable – so I ask myself is this work something I SHOULD be doing, not just something I can do, does it fit with the essential work I offer and stand for as a professional creative consultant and if so, is this something that I want to align myself with. If it’s not, then it really isn’t byyawowusu.
So yep, that’s the path to byyawowusu.com – a place to amalgamate and communicate my work (past and present), my thoughts and learnings and sometimes my inspirations and aspirations. I hope it adds clarity to all those who visit it and leads to more work that I believe is essential and valuable to both myself and my clients and collaborators.
By Yaw Owusu
Photo credit: Robin Clewley