In the wake of The Duck Duck Goose T-Shirt Competition’s announcement, store founder Daniel Sher contemplated the most appropriate way to respond to the queries around the intention, purpose and inner-workings of the competition that started to populate the Instagram comment section. Seeking to open a bigger conversation about taking opportunities in the creative industry, he decided to make it the subject of his panel discussion held on the FutureTalks Stage at Decorex Joburg in August 2023 with three leaders in the South African creative industry: fashion stylist Chloe Welgemoed, illustrator Kgabo Mametja, and fine artist Seth Pimentel. Daniel opens the discussion with an outline of the competition and its intention to build relationships with and give an opportunity to up-and-coming designers, before the conversation is steered into a discussion about the balance between creativity and commerce. Despite the all-too-familiar creative industry cliché that one can’t eat exposure, every panelist had a story about a time when they sacrificed (and continue to sacrifice) financial gain for other useful rewards in their respective creative niches, especially in the early stages of their careers. Daniel himself, with his first brand me.plus.one, won a T-shirt design competition in 2016 which lost him money, but gave him exposure, prestige, and access to new resources for the launch of Good Good Good. In his introduction, Daniel illustrates a clear timeline linking this initial competition victory to the manufacturing work that he has facilitated for the most prolific fashion labels in South Africa. What follows is an honest hour-long dive into the complexities of choosing when to charge commercial rates and when to work with the intention of building creative relationships and trust, and the risks and rewards of finding a balance between the two. Seth, Kgabo and Chloe share accounts of their own career trajectories, and what they’ve learnt about this crucial balance. To conclude the discussion, the panel also answers questions from an audience of creatives who are likely to have contemplated the same topic in their own careers. Press play to hear the full recording of a candid conversation about one of the most important and tedious topics in our industry. Whether you’re an aspiring or established creative, there is ample motivation, inspiration and reassurance to gain from this discussion.