Tuesday, December 16, 2008

For Christmas, I wish to be creative

Believe it or not, if you know somebody around you that wishes to receive the gift of creativity for Christmas, it will only cost you $6.95.

Creativity is a learnable skill. Ideas are no more than new combinations of elements and a creative person is someone with the ability to find relationships between elements (algorithm, paradigm, phrase etc.), using what we call in advertising rhetoric processes such as metaphor and metonymy.

There are of course several ways stimulate creativity and shortcuts are available to stimulate the human mind such as brainstorming. As one of my friend says: “Nothing happens in a monologue, you get to create in a conversation” (And by the way, this is not a coincidence that most ad agencies work with creative units which are assigned teams of two or three creative people) but that will be for another post.

So yes, there is ways to structure and stimulate creativity and I was surprised to discover that the greatest "creativity 101" course is found in a book that has been written in 1939 (and surprisingly still up to date). It’s shocking how some things never change and appears to be universal laws; no matter how you say it, 2+2 still equals 4 as far as I can remember.

The book was written by the greatest copywriters ever employed by J. Walter Thompson and was known in the industry, to have lived and breathed advertising. The 48 pages book should find its place in every young designer’s Christmas stockings. You will first learn about the techniques and mechanisms the mind uses to generate ideas which according to him can be as efficient as an assembly line. By the way speaking of old stuff, did you know that you can still buy the cookbook of the first noun great chef Marcus Gavius Apicius, who lived in ancient Rome sometime in the 1st century AD on Amazon.com?

Everything take place within 5 stages:

  1. The Gathering (For the mind to gather its raw material. This process is meant to develop an intimate knowledge of the client. In advertising, a creative will seek to gain specific knowledge about the product and general knowledge about life and events that will help him come up with his idea which will be from a new combination of elements.)

  2. The Mastication (It is the process of masticating these materials, Now that you have gathered and felt bits of information, you are seeking for the relationship, coming up with partial ideas, a synthesis where everything come together like a puzzle, as Young says.)

  3. The Digestion (That's the cool part where you let everything sit on the back burner for a while. You just drop everything and your sub-conscious mind does all the work for you, as your digestive system does when you just finished your plate.)

  4. The Revelation (Where as you constantly think about it and finally the idea shows up out of nowhere.)

  5. The Polishing (This is as Young describes "the cold gray morning after", as you have to test your idea in the real world, and usually as you receive criticism, you find that your original idea might not be as marvelous as you thought it would be. But don't give up, as you do your post-mortem on the prototype's first trial, you soon discover that it has self-expanding qualities and you can still build on it to develop something of practical usefulness as Young calls it.)

My point:
Everybody can learn about how to generate ideas and it works. Take it from a guy that's been using that very recipe for the past 8 years, and cool thing is that learning the process doesn’t take longer than a taxi ride.

David Morin B.A.V.
Brand Artist

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