January is a time to take stock, reflect on progress and set goals for the new year. To make this year the year of creativity, let’s look at 9 ways to stay creative.
Part one: Input
Have you ever stopped to think about where great ideas come from? Can you really create an idea out of nothing? Here is an experiment: try to imagine a colour that you’ve never seen before. Tricky isn’t it? Did you come up with something original or a variation of something you already know? Similarly, creative thinking is often a riff off of an existing idea. It is why motifs recur over time. It is why we have neoclassicism and nu-metal. In order to foster great creative output, you need to stimulate your mind with great creative input.
1. Study the masters
Spend some time researching a few of the greatest names and biggest influencers in your area of interest. Seek out their work. Try to experience it first-hand. Read biographies, critiques, and other stories which provide insight into their creative processes. Try out some of their creative methods for a creative boost.
2. Keep a swipe file
A copywriter’s swipe file is a collection of advertising materials that have proven to be effective. Authors might keep a list of bestsellers to spark ideas for their own titles. Make your own collection of creative materials. You can save them as Pinterest boards or pinned onto actual bulletin boards. Store them in virtual folders or physical files. Gather a selection of imagery, designs, text, music and other forms of effective creative work. Take time to sift through your swipe file to draw upon frameworks and themes to develop your own ideas.
3. Expand your creative horizons
Groundbreaking creativity transcends boundaries. A contemporary artist may combine the influences of music, pop-culture, myths, memory, architecture and/or the natural world to produce a single painting. Immerse yourself in a wide range of creative and cultural experiences and disciplines to see which encounters will cross-pollinate to help you create something new.
4. Learn from copying
No one is advocating passing off someone else’s work as your own. However, the practice of copying can develop skills for the technical execution of creative work as well as an insight into the creative imagination that produced it. The experience gained from copying will provide you with greater confidence to go off-piste.
Part two: Output
We have discussed the tools to stimulate creativity through maximising sources of inspiration and creative methodologies. Let’s look at some steps you can take to achieve great creative output.
5. Let your ideas flow
Buzzwords like brainstorming and blue-sky thinking may make you want to cringe. However, the process of releasing the ideas from your mind is an important first step. Authors practice stream of consciousness writing to vent distracting ideas and get into the flow of putting words together to form stories. Artists doodle and sketch their way through ideas. Others make lists on whiteboards or make recordings of jazz noodling. Allow your mind the freedom to let ideas flow out without self-censorship, regardless of their merit.
6. Ask ‘what-if?’
Once you’ve released your ideas, take a good look for connections and recurring themes. To push things further, consider unusual combinations of the various fragments of your ideas. Whether you are drawing lines across a page to link concepts, pasting together a collage or overlaying loops of a recording, play with the options in front of you.
7. Take a break then take stock
If you have the luxury of time, allow yourself a break before you examine your ideas with a more critical eye. Decide which ideas are most appealing, unique, or have the greatest potential. Set aside the ones that don’t make the grade.
8. Refine your ideas
From a narrowed down set of potentials, imagine how you might flesh-out the ideas to produce a satisfying creative output. Think about how they might work in the context of the marketplace. Consider which concepts are achievable within the time and resources you have available.
9. Check then choose
You may want or need to review your concepts with a colleague, mentor, line manager or client before you can commit to a creative route to execute. Indeed, you may be required to present your ideas to focus groups, legal advisors, consultants or research teams before you can proceed. Once you have done your checks, you can confidently go forth and produce great creative work.
Part 3. Creative Partnerships deliver great creative
Great creative goes hand-in-hand with great collaborations. Fortunately, you can turn to LEAP for help with producing great creative output, from nurturing it through concept stages through to full production. Our experienced integrated advertising production teams are able to provide you with support across a wide range of creative disciplines. Our creative and design team can supplement your own creative teams with copywriting, design and art direction services. If you simply need to present your concept for review, our print and promotions team are set up to produce everything from overnight pitch boards to case-bound presentations
If you have a great creative idea and need to develop and test it before you can get the green light, our imaging and animation team are ready to help with illustration, storyboards, animatics, animation, CGI and/or photography. For those looking for a live action approach, our film and post team can produce test commercials and director’s treatments as well as final production and delivery of moving image for any platform.
For creative projects with global vision, our language and culture team can provide cultural consultation starting with health checks with in-market strategic planners to evaluate potential creative concepts intended for global distribution. The full range of translation and transcreation services are also available to localise international creative campaigns. For creativity destined for the digital environment, our digital and technology team provide research and analysis to develop content strategies as well as a range of services to design and build digital solutions.
Wherever your creative passions lead you, we look forward to celebrating another year of great creative work with you!