What does it take to be creative? A journey into the shadowy world of advertising.

I met Ed yesterday. Ed works in Advertising. He’s got the thick rimmed glassed and trendy satchel to prove it. Ed’s a creative.

Intrigued, i asked him what it meant to be a creative. His insight? “Well, it’s better than my last job, because you don’t have to wear a suit”.

So there you have it. Suits stifle creativity, so the only way to unleash your potential, to free your spirit, is to ditch the tie and don deck shoes.

Although maybe it’s not quite that simple. Maybe there’s more to creativity than the simply sartorial. Maybe retro T shirts and a haircut so foppish you could mop with it are just symptoms, not causes. Maybe creativity isn’t all that rare after all. Maybe, if such a thought is possible, we’re all creative? Even people in suits.

For me, creativity isn’t a way of thinking, it’s a way of not getting caught up in how other people think you should think. Creativity is about looking at the edges of things, wondering what’s around the back and being unafraid to give it a good poke to find out.

People often confuse ‘creativity’ with ‘talent’. You can be very creative, but not be able to paint like Turner, or play like Hendrix. They’re different things. Trust me on this, you even get creative accountants, which pretty much carries the argument.

Advertising seems to be the only industry that feels the need to capture the whole business and put it in a process. They seem obsessed with the idea that someone needs to inject the creativity up front, or you’ll accidentally end up with a product at the end that’s not creative. Perish the thought. I suppose, in some ways, they’re right though. You need relevant subject matter experts involved at any point in the project process, but it always strikes me as a little desperate to insist that they have the word ‘creative’ in their title. I mean, my Financial Advisor doesn’t feel the need to call himself ‘mundane’, ‘tedious’ or ‘expensive’, even though all of these would be applicable.

Mind you, whilst i can’t help noticing the irony, they may be on to something. Whilst i’m not sure that we need to include ‘creative’ in our project briefs or titles, perhaps we should spend a little more time trying to inject some of it into our projects. It’s all too easy to let process take over and churn out the same thing time and time again.

Think about it for something you’re working on currently. Are you doing it the same way you’ve always done it, or are you looking at the edges? Even if it’s a thing you’ve done a thousand times before, try some variation.

At heart, creativity is one of the exploratory urges that drives us through our earliest learning journey; starting to explore our environment by probing it with fingers, feet and tongue. Touching, tasting, exploring. Then starting to try different strategies to repeat pleasant experiences and minimise the ones that generate negative impacts. Creativity is the urge that drives us to learn, and i don’t believe that it disappears when you grow up, although maybe we have to dig a little deeper to find it.

[Note – in keeping with the spirit of this article, i’ve employed some creativity. In real life, Ed wasn’t wearing thick rimmed glasses. Just in my mind].

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
This entry was posted in Advertising, Creative and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to What does it take to be creative? A journey into the shadowy world of advertising.

  1. Nick Chisnall says:

    Another excellent post Julian

    Particularly liked the images along with refreshing creativity 🙂

  2. Pingback: Creative learning: how do we capture creativity | Julian Stodd's Learning Blog

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