July 26, 2018No Comments

Graph: Creativity vs Discomfort

We all need to constantly be reminded of this one simple fact, even if creativity is our daily job. Even walking in every day with the mission to create can become comfortable – and that's something professional creatives need to watch out for. We may fall into the trap that is believing that if we come in, learn the ropes, rinse and repeat we'll be creative forever. Comfortably.

That's far from the truth. Because creativity requires discomfort.

I like to define creativity as the act of using your imagination to bring into the world something that wasn't there before. I stress the last bit that refers to originality – because if you make something that already exists, you're not being creative, are you?

creativity vs discomfort chart

Chart: Well, there is such thing as "too much discomfort". Try to find the sweet spot, not the point of no return.

Originality is an absolute pre-requisite for creativity, because creativity lies only in what didn't exist before you created it.

And that's the crux of my point with discomfort and creativity. Read more

April 5, 2015No Comments

Creativity is messy

“It’s almost impossible to reconcile creativity with cleanliness”, says Marty Neumeier in his great little book “The 46 rules of genius”. In rule #22 – Embrace Messiness – he argues that messiness and creativity go hand in hand. That’s something I felt to be true in my career in advertising. When creatives are at it, “in the zone”, things get messy. And that’s just how it works – creativity is messy.

There are many studies out there that make observations about how the environment around us influences our mood and our actions. I believe today that’s pretty much accepted as universal truth: everybody understands that a quiet space will get you calmer an having too many people in a small space can be very stressful. Just remember your last flight to Sydney.

The nuances of how the environment around you affect your creativity, though, are worth talking about further. A study by Kathleen D. Vohs, as described in her article for the New York Times, shows very clear advantages for creativity in messy rooms:

"Since tidiness has been associated with upholding societal standards, we predicted that just being around tidiness would elicit a desire for convention. We also predicted the opposite: that being around messiness would lead people away from convention, in favor of new directions."

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October 17, 20143 Comments

Explore the obscure birthplace of originality

originality vs obscurity

Once, when I was a young creative trying to make my way up in the ad world, a good friend of mine – also a creative – told me "the originality of your ideas depend on the obscurity of your sources". It sounded a bit douchy to me back then. It felt a bit like we should be stealing ideas left and right. As I matured as a creative, I realized more and more how much truth there was to that quote. It probably stemmed from one of Albert Einstein's most famous quotes (at least among creative circles):

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August 21, 20142 Comments

Perfectionism vs Productivity

Creatives in advertising usually fall into the category of "perfectionists", which means they fight for the execution of their ideas to be as close to their vision as possible. That's really our job, and there's a whole structure in an ad agency to support that plan of action. Perfectionism gets in the way when it leads to procrastination – one of the types of procrastinators, according to Alina Vrabie in this article, and Joel Brown in this one among others, is the "perfectionist".

At work, we do have deadlines that trump our will to keep working every little detail to perfection – we have to end up delivering what was asked of us at some point. But the greatest creative leaps in advertising or anywhere else come from proactivity. A perfectionist nature can get in the way of creatives ever completing a project that wasn't asked of them (either a proactive idea at work or a personal project) because getting every detail perfect becomes overwhelming and we might end up dropping the whole project.

Salvador Dali on perfection

Salvador Dali knew what he was talking about

It's very easy to hide under the snob cloak of perfection. It makes us feel we can call ourselves creatives without having ever brought an idea to life. Read more

August 8, 2014No Comments

The Amount of Travel vs Creative Potential

Here's another graph that illustrates something I believe: the more you travel, the greater your creative potential.

One of my favorite creatives, graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister, famously takes one full year out of seven to recharge his creativity somewhere remote. Ernest Hemingway wrote while in Cuba, Paul Gauguin painted in Tahiti and Mark Twain wrote “Innocents Abroad” on board a ship. These guys knew what they were doing.

Creativity is an act of mixing. It's about putting together two things you've seen or read or know about and creating something new out of that connection. Unique connections create unique ideas! That means the more varied your sources are, me more chance you'll have to come up with original ideas.

"...it's much easier to create something new if your building blocks are different. Playing with existing sameness is a game of diminishing returns."

- John Hunt, worldwide creative director of TBWA network

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July 29, 2014No Comments

Working with celebrities: Willingness to Cooperate VS Fame

Here's yet another for the series Graphs I Think are Correct.

I've moved to LA in December 2013. Before then, I had only one experience working with celebrities. And that was never really a big part of any campaign idea. But this is Hollywood, baby! This city lives and breathes pop culture and that feeling has seeped into the ad industry.

Working with celebrities makes sense sometimes. It's an easy way to say a lot in little time (and achieve a Brain Popcorn Effect), meaning we can instantly attribute to a brand the traits of someone we can hire. For instance, a gym targeting a young crowd could have Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson star in their commercial. The more famous the personality, the greater potential for Brain Popcorn Effect. Read more

July 11, 2014No Comments

Graphs I Think are Correct: How Bad Things Are VS Creativity

Here's a graph I'm pretty sure is correct. Have you noticed how people get creative when things are bad? Try and observe it.

Look at music. The best songs are written on a broken heart, or by people with serious drug problems. Or both. I'm a big fan of Amy Winehouse. Her songs were about tough times with lovers and drugs – that made up for some of the best music made this century. Alanis Morissete is another example. Her album "Jagged Little Pill" was a huge hit in the 90's - I still know most of the lyrics by heart. You can tell she was having a lot of guy trouble in those days. Her music wasn't as successful after she found herself on a trip to India and became more centered, I would argue.

The best Brazilian music ever created, in my opinion, was composed during the military dictatorship in the 70's. It talked about freedom and fighting the system. There was never again such a magical span of time in Brazilian music. Read more

July 2, 20144 Comments

Graphs I Think are Correct: Quality of Idea VS Amount of Time Put Into It

Creatives in advertising assume stuff all the time. We have to. In order to judge if an idea is going to work or not, we have to play it out in our heads. Are people going to engage with my banner? Will they share my viral video? Are people going to take the time to read my ad? If I use cat pictures, how much more attention I'm gonna get from the audience? We don't know. We have to guess it.

Although some scientific knowledge may influence our decisions, we're in the business of creating the new. And you can't read a research report about something that doesn't exist yet.

Here's the gist: a good creative assumes more correctly than a bad creative. It all comes down to nurturing a strong sensitivity to what's happening around us. The next step is to trust your guts and follow through with something you believe will succeed. I will write more about this important part of being creative in other posts in the future.

So, this is me exercising that "sensitivity". I'm going to create graphs that I think are correct. You'll find they make a lot of sense. But I guarantee you they have no scientific base whatsoever.

Here's the first one:


I truly believe the more time you invest into an idea, the better it gets. But then, at some point, even if you work more on it, it does't seem to improve very much. And you start second guessing yourself. Read more


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