It’s A Trap! How Pigeonholing Your Creativity Can Hurt

Being pigeonholed can actively restrict your creativity. It’s a trap!

Focus is important in creativity. It allows you to achieve, rather than wallow about in a swamp of disparate ideas. Knowing what your strengths are, knowing how to use them to their best ability, knowing how to maximise creative opportunities are all elements of focus.

However, there’s a big difference between focus and pigeonholing, and many creative types (or their bosses) forget that. Just because you focus your creativity on developing stunning artworks in one particular medium doesn’t mean that is the only area you should think creatively.

The advertising industry is ride with pigeonholed creatives.
That’s a copywriter. That’s an art director. That’s a digital specialist.

Don’t ask the copywriter to think about integrating his words visually within a digital environment. That’s why we have individual specialists, right?

Yawn. Ok, I’m slightly exaggerating, but only slightly. I’ve dealt with many people who look at me as a specialist in my given medium, assuming I have little value in any other (there are probably a few who think i have little value in any medium, but that’s another story).

It’s a shortsighted attitude, and one that you, as a creative type, should treat very carefully. If you allow yourself to be pigeonholed too strictly, you’re actively allowing your creative output to be reduced.

Think about it. If you’re a writer and create visuals, you gain a new perspective on how words and images combine. If you’re an architect who plays an instrument, your understanding of acoustics may affect your next design. If you’re a painter who sculpts, how much better wil you understand light and shadow the next time you pick up a brush.

Of course, it seems obvious. But it’s often forgotten as we delve deeper into our own specialities. Explore creativity itself as a discipline, and please, please broaden the creative fields in which you work.

Remember a computer geek with a penchant for typography….

Creative Techniques: The Easiest Creative Trick In The World

stevejobsIn a famous Wired article, Steve Jobs said “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something.

It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things…

A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”

Two things stand out for me. ‘Diverse experiences’ and ‘broad perspective’. One leads naturally to the other. If you work in a creative role, don’t focus completely on your specialty. Read widely. Explore areas that may not seem relevant. Discover. Uncover.

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Great Marketing: iOS 6 Release

Earlier today, the roll out of Apple’s iOS 6 began sweeping the world.

Some people are cheering, some are yawning. Along with the eagerly awaited iPhone 5, iOS 6 will surely polarise fanboys and haters alike.

The biggest issue seems to be the lack of a game changing ‘wow’ factor in both products. But so what? Is radical innovation the only acceptable play? I don’t think so.

Radical innovation is exciting. It takes us in new directions and opens new doors creatively. but incremental innovation is also vital. It’s the basis of evolution. Small, constant changes that help us develop and improve.

The iPhone 5 and iOS 6 might not change the world, but every step forward is a step I’m happy with.

Creative Techniques: What To Do When There’s Nothing New Under The Sun.

Saw a fun initiative from the UK today. A promoter called Animal Control are building a giant papier mache replica of the Queen’s head to provide an alternative celebration on the Thames… the Jubillegal.

A fantastic idea, and I wish I was in the UK, but certainly nothing new, right? Alternatives to main stream events and institutions have been, well almost mainstream themselves for years. In fact, many of the alternatives now have alternatives.

Broadway spawned Off Broadway, which spawned Off Off Broadway. Our grandkids will probably see shows Off Off Off Off Broadway.

Does it matter? is reinventing the old as new a sign off fading creativity?

Absolutely not. Creativity is rarely, if ever, pure invention. It’s looking at the world and reinterpreting the data to create a different approach. The trick is to avoid reinterpreting the data in the same way as every other creative type.  In advertising, we see that problem every day. It’s why so many campaigns seem familiar, and tired.

Don’t fear the idea that there’s nothing new under the sun. Strive to create something new, but remain aware that a lot of what you do will have been done in some form or other in the past. Steve Jobs didn’t create the first portable music player. Da Vinci wasn’t the first person to paint a woman, or even the first to imagine human powered flight (Deadalus beat him to it, among others). Does that diminish their genius? Their creativity?

Your ideas are your own. Your viewpoint is your own. use the web to ensure your idea hasn’t been duplicated exactly, and if it has, don’t throw it out, reinterpret. revise. Look at it from a different angle. There’s nothing new under the sun, but each time it rises, it rises on a new day, and your take on that day can be immensely creative.

Isn’t technology awesome :)

I’m stating the bleeding obvious here, but I wanted to celebrate it publicly! I see that Tin Tin is coming out in 3D CGI animation. It looks incredible, and kids will absolutely love it. And that’s my point… children of today are going to be impacted by a great story that began as a comic strip in January 1910.

If it wasn’t for the vision (and, let’s face it… the funding) of people like Steve Jobs to give this new CGI technology credibility via the seminal Toy Story series, maybe millions of kids wouldn’t get to enjoy this author’s great work.

As ‘the old folk’ we must continue to embrace the new frontiers of entertainment content invention, because there are so many brilliant stories to tell from our past, and this new tech is probably the only way we are going to engage future generations in that past.

The true beauty is that as we further improve our technological wizardry, it will become easier and easier to bring to life these stories with the feel and style their authors originally intended.