Creativity is an elusive thing. One theory is that some lucky people are simply wired with creative, inquisitive and lateral thinking minds. Biosocial theory for example suggests that creativity is genetic, and thus, geniuses are indeed born, not made. Furthermore it proposes that there is a link between ‘madness’ and creativity.
As a ‘creative’ agency, dna’s currency is essentially ‘creative effectiveness’ – growing businesses, marketing products, generating awareness and creating brands – all in an engaging, memorable, identifiable and hopefully original way.
So, short of employing designers with a history of ‘madness’ or zapping them with electric cattle prods (which I’ve been assured doesn’t work), how can you make others, yourself or an agency more ‘creative’?
The answer lies somewhere within a mix of environmental, cultural, psychological and social modifications – some more obvious than others – a framework to cultivate a creative spirit.
In this 4 part series, I’ll be departing my thoughts (along with some well trodden theories) on the steps needed to create an ideal breeding ground for creativity in yourself and within an agency environment:
INDIVIDUALS & TEAMS
What chance have you got of producing something fresh and truly creative if you’ve no idea what is happening in the industry? Not only will you uncover the no-go areas and over-exploited trends but it also acts as a constant reminder of the level of talent out there – raising your bar and challenging yourself and others around you.
Have one eye open at all times to fresh design work and inspirational thinking. Collate things you like or the work of people you admire. Bury your head in books, films, paintings, photographs, conversations, blogs and portfolios, keeping reference either in a note book or a Pinterest page. Consider using online RSS feeds, Feedly, Zeit etc to bring relevant content to you. In this way you can follow trends, and then ignore them.
…but don’t steal (consciously!).
You will learn nothing – no more than you would have by simply viewing the work. Be driven by a desire to have created an exemplary ad, wishing you had come up with the idea. Imitation may be known as the sincerest form of flattery but it’s also the sign of a lacklustre creative – be sure the work is authentic to you. It’s widely considered that nothing is 100% original however – it’s human nature that we are inspired by the work around us, weaved in to our daily lives consciously and subconsciously.
Derren Brown famously wielded his powers of perception and mind manipulation to turn the tables on the advertising experts, subconsciously influencing them to design a preconceived campaign idea they thought to be original, but based on subtle queues they experience en route to the office. It’s a mesmerising watch.
So if you see similar work elsewhere, don’t despair, remember the words of Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you steal from – it’s where you take them to.”
The world is round
Years of corporate strategies have pounded hierarchies in to flat tiers.
Think of your studio as less of a pyramid and more of an amphitheatre – an open forum for discussion and ideas. Structure teams in a circular formation with a collaborative way of thinking.
Collaboration is fun. Being relaxed and engaged is ideal for idea generation. Work in pairs or groups and encourage others to do so yourself. Bouncing ideas around is always an essential part of a creative process – taking thinking off on new, unexpected tangents. Ensure the session is lead by a decision maker, an arbiter of the creative routes worth exploring – remember, a camel is a horse designed by committee.
Ideas are not to be coveted; they are to be shared, especially in an age of online collaboration – an overly individualistic culture can stifle creativity. Another maxim, ‘two heads are better than one’ has never been more true because great ideas can come from anywhere. Involve as many people as possible in the initial brainstorming session. Give everything away and you’ll get more coming back to you.
Collaboration is not exclusive to internal resources either, it extends far beyond the internal workings of an agency. Some of the best work out there was a product of integrated agency collaboration, each playing to their particular strengths. Networking within the creative design industry can lead to the forging of unexpected creative partnerships.
For more ideas to grow creativity, stay tuned for part 2. Why not subscribe to the dna blog for updates?
(Opinion: Jon Price – Creative Director)