I have figured out what design is

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What is design?

Oh, that haunting question! This is not even the first time I try to answer it in this blog!

After mulling over it for 4 years in college, we never got to a satisfying conclusion. It did lead to many interesting discussions, though. I bet that was the point our mentors wanted to make. It’s one of those questions that are better left unanswered, to make us think and ponder on important matters.

“What’s the meaning of life?”

“What came first, the chicken or the egg?”

“What are the hell are the Smurfs?”

But sometimes you find interesting answers to those questions. They might not be complete or conclusive, but lead to more thinking, and more discussions.

Except for the chicken and egg, question. To which the answer is obviously the egg. Continue reading

Keys for inspiration: knowledge and action.

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I have recently answered a question on Quora.com about creativity. The question asked “What are the keys to feeding my creativity?” That set me up really well to talk about the two things that are most important to me, when it comes to finding inspiration. The answer was also published on Inc.com.

The answer went as follows:

Creativity is different for different people. Creatives acting in different areas will have different ways of feeding their creativity. A comedian, for instance, may feed his creativity by noticing everyday life events. A creative soccer player may feed his creativity by mimicking other great players.

Since your question didn’t specify what kind of creative endeavor you’re undertaking, I’ll be very broad in my answer. Because, although inspiration can come from different sources for different people, there are basic concepts in creativity that hold true for any kind of scenario.
To me, the most important keys to inspiration are knowledge and action. Continue reading

The difference between Innovation and Creativity

creativity vs innovation
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Recently on Quora, I answered a question that deals with a couple of concepts that are super talked about nowadays: “creativity” and “innovation”. In the tech-savvy, always-connected, ever-evolving world we live in, those 2 words are in everyone’s mouths.

Does everyone know what they’re really talking about? Most people are not sure how to define creativity or innovation, and get their noodles cooking when asked to differentiate the two. If that’s the case for you, don’t feel bad. There are a few different definitions out there, so it’s a little bit like religion: you should stick to whatever you believe, but if someone else believes something different, it doesn’t mean their wrong. But there are a some related concepts that are undeniable, like the fact that every new idea generates from previously existing concepts.

Read my answer below, or read it on Quora.

What is the difference between creativity and innovation? How do you define creativity? How do you define innovation?

You’re going to find that the definition of “creativity” and “innovation” vary A LOT depending of the author/source. I have my own take on it, which I offer below. Continue reading

A Shortcut To Ideas

a shortcut to ideas
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One day I showed the image below to a couple of American colleagues. It shows a few “caboclos de lança“, a carnival character very specific to a small region of north-eastern Brazil, where I’m from. They wear magnificent hand-embroidered cloaks, carry a white gillyflower between their lips and wear those amazing sparkling oversized wigs. Not to mention the massive spear they swing around.

The first comment I heard was about how much their shoes resembled Converses.

Maracatu Rural

When exposed to something alien, our first instinct is to try to find a connection to something we already know. That’s our way of making sense of the world. We will (unconsciously) try to use previous experiences to better understand new ones.

This concept can help us understand both how ideas are formed and how communication can be optimized by leveraging this fact. Continue reading

The Comfort Zone of Conformity

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The words “conform” and “comfort” are disturbingly similar. You can’t even tell them apart at a quick glance. Psychologically, “conformity” has a strong link to “comfort zone” as well. Neither word goes well with “creativity”.

The Asch experiment, one of the most famous and popular in psychology, is a big eye opener. It simply exposes our group-confirming nature in an undeniable way. Humans are very prone to agreeing with what everybody else thinks, to go with the flow, to drop their own opinion in favor of the others’, to conform. That’s known as the “Asch Paradigm“.

It’s worth having a look at the video below – and think that you’re not any different from the people being tested. By the looks of the video, you can tell this knowledge has been around for a while, but still to this date too many people change their opinions for the wrong reasons.

Continue reading

Dishonesty: tap into your dark side to be more creative

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“With great power comes great responsibility”

Voltaire or Uncle Ben (Spider-Man’s uncle) – depending on your mood.

Dishonest people are very creative. Everyone can agree with that. We all know the examples: the con man coming up with lies to get money out of you, the crooked car salesman and his stories to get you to buy a lemon, fake letters from Nigeria and the sweet talk of the famed Brazilian “malandro” hiding his bad intentions.

Big examples in pop culture, like Kevin Spacey’s character Keyser Söze in “The Usual Suspects” (1994) and Christian Bale’s Irving in “American Hustle” (2014) drive home the same point – evil geniuses are very creative!

evil genius kevin spacey in The Usual Suspects

Kevin Spacey as an evil genius in the 1994 movie “The Usual Suspects”

But what if I flipped the order around and told you this:

Being dishonest can actually make you more creative.

Continue reading

Explore the obscure birthplace of originality

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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):

Continue reading