How to be more ‘creative’ in 2016

Last year, we laid bare the fact that technology kills creativity — in architecture, fashion, advertising — in all artistic fields. And technology is only getting more, well, technological every day.

But you’re a “creative” gosh darn it (well, not you, readers of the tech, digital, marketing, strategy, media, editorial, C-level, and account persuasion), and creatives gotta create.

Luckily many — so, so many — creative experts have recently published their secrets to being more creative. And lucky for you, we’ve collected the best of them here. Onward, creators, to creativity!

Listen to the voices in your head
All of them, not just the sane ones. If you have a mental illness, tap into it when you’re “ideating” (I have two diagnosed ones, so I know what I’m talking about).

“The psychological arrangement of the common copywriter contains the kind of conflict, delusion and outright mania that compels us to peel away the tin foil helmet and expose the gibbering truth,” writes Andrew Boulton in the Drum. But while you’re a creator, you’re not an artist. You’re a salesperson.

Squeeze balls
And here you’re probably thinking that stress balls are only good for winging at co-workers’ heads. But the U.K.’s Taylor & Francis recently published studies on the creative benefits of squeezing balls, both soft and hard.

Squeezing soft balls was found to “generate more original and diverse ideas,” whereas trying to compress a hard ball helps you come up with a “single correct answer.”

Be a “storyteller”
I know, it’s been blurted and re-blurted by sheeple in directors’ chairs on raised daises by the thousands, maybe millions, at every ad and marketing conferences the world over. Digital dipberries think this a “new” idea. That’s why they’re dipberries.

But the dipberries do have a point: Many of the great ads of the last 50 years told stories, including scores of 1960s VW ads, that’s what made them great ads. It’s also one of the key tips John Ingledew gives in his new book How To Have Great Ideas: A Guide to Creative Thinking. Brands these days are focusing too much on “customer engagement.” The best way to engage them? Create an interesting story ad. Many brands have great tales hidden within their corporate walls. You need to dig them out into the open.

Two old VW ads with interesting stories

Undress at the office
Men and women, strip down to underwear (but don’t get naked like the bozos at Sagmeister & Walsh). But first, you have to look better with less clothing. You don’t want to kill other creatives’ ideas/appetites. Lawson Clarke, “Male Copywriter,” would approve.

It’s freeing, and it forces your brain to fire different synapses than usual.

Stay out of “incubator” “labs”
Digital agencies and other inept places are holding idiotic creative meetings with “above-the-line” creatives, “below-the-line” hacks, and “nowhere near the line” tech and strategy people. I shudder to think how many good ideas have been obliterated in these meetings.

Also, if a digital executive — the one who usually calls these meetings — tries to rename your department a “creative dojo” (wait, don’t click the link, it’s a sponsored AdAge post by Dave Fiore, chief cre­ative officer of digital agency Catapult), conspire to get him fired, or wear a Karategi to work every day.

Be a “vandal”
This is according to old man Jeff Goodby, and he means it. Go and illegally tag some public buildings. If you get arrested, I’m sure Goodby will pony up the cash to spring you.

Experience personal hardship
This will help make you a creative genius, as Doug Savage explained in this “creativity” comic strip. If your life is too easy-breezy, force some hardships on yourself: Challenge the 6’4″, 220-pound guy at the bar to go outside. Tell him you hate his stupid face, or something. Alternately, eat only something that disgusts you for a week, maybe.

Pile dead things on your desk
A real human skull, taxidermy snakes, squirrels, the ashes of your dead father (I’m doing this one at my next gig), whatever. The scarier the better. This is to remind you that life is short and your job is meaningless. But this feeling will help free your mind to think up useful ideas. No really, it works.

Images via: @CrapTaxidermy


Drink shots and punch each other the face
Do this every morning at 11. Leo Burnett Toronto says to “slap” each other, but slaps are for wimps. Take a whiskey shot and a haymaker from the biggest guy in your office, and then let the blood drip on the latest brief. You’ll nail it, I promise.

Add your own tricks in the comments.

More in Marketing

In the marketing world, anime is following in the footsteps of gaming

As marketers look to take advantage of anime’s entry into the zeitgeist, they might be wise to observe the parallels between the evolution of anime as a marketing channel and the ways brands have learned to better leverage gaming in recent years. 

With the introduction of video ads and e-commerce, Roblox looks to attain platform status

Roblox is expanding into more areas than just ads in 2024. Much like platforms such as Amazon and Facebook have transcended their origins to evolve from their origins as online marketplaces and social media channels, Roblox is in the midst of a transformation into a platform for all elements of users’ virtual lives.