Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Creativity Flows Like A Crazy River

Creativity flows like a crazy river. One moment it is so low that you can clearly count the pebbles laying on the bottom of the river bed; the next instant it is a swirl of rushing water - powerful, churning, full of debris and lust. We who live in the commercial art world, where deadlines and budgets do not permit the luxury of waiting for the next creative deluge, need to find a way to survive in this land of deserts and floods.

Clients approach us, the experts, with ideas that can be quite literal or quite vague, in need of our expert direction. Our task is to find the underlying concept and illustrate it as powerfully, visually, and uniquely as possible. It’s like translating a foreign language. When my clients bring me their ideas, my job is to pick up on and even enhance the rhythm, structure and color of the layout. I must fully understand the concepts and thinking behind the campaign. Like all good translations, it works best when I go beyond just the meaning of the individual words and bring the sprite of the piece to life. This happens when I permit the rushing waters of creativity to carry me. It is a brave thing to allow and even encourage this process to take place. To loosen the attachments that we have to preconceived notions and to respond to what is truly working in the picture that is unfolding before our eyes is often not easy to do.

I can feel the moment when during a shoot I let go of the restraints of ego and budget and start with visual honesty to just react to what is in front of me. Clients feel it too and this synergy is what produces the best visuals. Incorporating some flexibility to be able to add ingredients to the stew, when it tastes a bit flat, is an exciting way to work.

Whether we are in still waters or churning rapids, we who thrive in this commercial world must still bring home the dinner. We do this best when we can reach deep into our creative well and ask, what can we do to make this better?

Zave Smith

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