Four Ways to Stay Creative Every Day
Creativity is notoriously ephemeral and prone to fits and starts, so how do professional creatives sustain the consistent level of inspiration required to come up with new ideas on a day-to-day basis?
In this week’s post, we catch up with Dan, one of our resident photographers to discover some of his strategies for staying creative, as relayed over a lovely cup of Yorkshire Tea’s finest (milk, no sugar, thanks for asking).
1. Surround yourself with a reliable and inspiring team.
Coming up with an award-winning idea is a daunting task for one person, even as a one-off. When your role involves producing creative solutions for your clients day after day, this becomes an almost impossible task without the support of a dependable and collaborative team. Case in point, Dan usually seeks to work with a shortlist of 3 stylists depending on the nature of the shoot, knowing that they can be relied on to produce good work. Furthermore, ensuring that multiple team members, from the Art Director to the make-up is allowed to bring something to the party is a great way to sense-check an idea against the brief before it goes to your client, which is a basic but essential step for any creative.
2. Creativity is a process, so don’t cling to the first idea that comes to mind.
This one sounds obvious, but allowing a concept to develop from its original form is integral to producing ideas that feel fresh. For example, when Heinz announced its new range of savoury sauce hybrids – Mayochup, Mayocue, Kranch etc, most people reacted with mild disgust and then continued on with their lives. However, somewhere deep in the depths of the Heinz Innovation Centre, the NPD team weren’t done yet. Heinz x Cadbury’s Creme Egg Mayonnaise was launched on the 1st of April this year and promptly added to a list of ‘Things Worse Than Brexit’. Available only at a promotional installation at the Truman Brewery, London, as a brand awareness exercise, the launch was hugely successful, demonstrating that developing an already good idea can result in something even better. Let’s just hope that Creme Egg Mayonnaise never makes it to full production.
3. Immerse yourself in surroundings and disciplines outside of your comfort zone or specialism.
To expound this point, allow us to illustrate one of Dan’s biggest bugbears in the photography world – the Bad Moodboard. As an example of the Bad Moodboard, picture the pre-production lead up to a shoot for a range of handbags. The moodboard for lighting reference is created and exclusively contains multiple images of handbags all shot beautifully, however, in each image the lighting and general aesthetic is completely different. Not only does this moodboard fail to give a clear direction, it is also limiting the eventual outcome to something derivative of what already exists in handbag photography. Looking outside the scope of what has already been done in your discipline for inspiration is the easiest way to innovate within your space and avoid repetition, and most creatives will be doing this even if you aren’t.
4. Embrace the restrictions.
Creativity in a professional capacity depends not only on passion and enthusiasm, but also discipline (and more often than not a keen awareness of deadlines, unfortunately). Limitations such as briefs, deadlines, word count etc can initially seem like barriers to creativity, but Dan argues that they are actually a great catalyst for interesting work. Look online and there’s a stream of content supporting this view, and fellow procrastinators will also confirm that without some form of time constraint there’s a reasonable chance that many of our great ideas would remain as semi-developed sketches in a notepad rather than fully fledged executions. In summary, next time you’re given a brief with the tightest of deadlines, grit your teeth, smile and think of the opportunity instead of fantasising about all the ways you can strangle your Client Services team.