My mother used to always say that I had a vivid imagination. She’d be trying to talk to me about what was coming up during my school term or filling me in on what had happened during her work week and I’d be ‘off with the fairies’. I’d always reply with a vacant stare and something barely intelligible like an ‘oh that’s great’ or ‘oh yes I’ll have to get to that’. This of course meant that during my school years I was constantly reprimanded for being inattentive. Report card after report card repeated the same observation – ‘Koby doesn’t seem to have any problems with this year’s curriculum yet he’s easily distracted in class and requires a stronger application to class activities to fully realize his potential’. This was met with my flippant dismissal and the claim that the teacher had it in for me.
What did this mean to me? Over time I’ve come to realize that getting lost in my imagination – something completely congruent to a young boy – is something that I’ve made sure I never grew out of as I’ve grown older.
For me, this idea of imagining and getting lost in your thoughts is crucial to developing a constantly evolving creative output. In an industry that lives and breathes from the formulation of ideas, the art of imagination seems one that we don’t nurture past the age of say fifteen. Sure, we want to be creative; we want to create innovative campaigns and brilliant creative concepts that will wow our clients. But, if we’re not taking the time to imagine, to go ‘off with the fairies’ then how are we delivering anything that the client can’t get from another agency?
This is best represented in a cunning trick that renowned UK hypnotist Derren Brown played on two unsuspecting ad men. He had two men ride in the same car on the way to a creative briefing and then presented them with the brief. They had a set amount of time to both come up with an idea. Due to Derren ensuring that the car they rode in on the way to the briefing stuck to a specific route, both men came up with almost identical ideas. They’d taken in particular symbols on their way to the briefing – architecture, other advertising, street signs and landmarks which informed their creative output and had them both create similar creative.
Does this boggle your mind?
In a world where we’re constantly sharing media with each other, it should. The internet at large is simultaneously the biggest and the smallest environment in the world. We’re all sharing and we’re all viewing similar content and creatively, this is a harpoon in our side that can seriously impede any kind of unique creativity that was once enjoyed before the availability of the global orgy of content we currently indulge in.
If we’re all drinking from the same water fountain, singing from the same hymn sheet and sharing the Kool-Aid then this presents a problem if we want to keep our creative minds as sharp and unique as they can be.
What can we do?
We need to look out more windows. Stare into more space. Fantasise and internalize yet be open and obnoxious with our brainstorms. Never black-hat, but never settle for an idea you know deep down just isn’t creative. We need to get stupid with ideas before we get smart.
We need to be childish. And that doesn’t mean imagining what’s possible – it’s dreaming of the impossible and making it a reality.
Check out the Derren Brown video here