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Creative Process

During a product naming session at Catapult Thinking, the project leads decided to have a half-day naming brainstorm in the conference room. The copy team, designers, account team and production came together to churn up hundreds of ideas during the session. Literally the whole staff was on hand to kick off the creative exploration. Years later this approach still influences my approach to creative process. Below are some of my beliefs on creative process.

My approach:

Not every project has time for a thorough creative process. Sometimes projects are straightforward production design, and sometimes it's all hands on deck and we're all producing 80 web banners by end of day, to meet deadlines. When we do have time to dig deep into process though, here's a few of my best practices I like to bring to the drawing board:
 

  • Any one can have a brilliant idea. I don't believe that creative directors and their teams are the sole employees of the idea factory. If someone has the interest and excitement to share their ideas, I want to hear it. Outside perspectives heard by an open ear and mind are important.
     

  • Ideas don't happen purely within the 9-5, Monday through Friday timeframe. While I'm a proponent for healthy work/life balance, ideas happen when you least expect them. If a designer's best ideas happen between 10pm and 3am, then that's when the work happens. Creativity isn't on a time clock; you have to take advantage when it strikes. 
     

  • The post-Covid hybrid work style has changed creative process, leaving the creative process to get, well...a little creative. At the start of my career a lot of team process was by way of mood boards made of photocopies, visiting competitors together, and group working lunches around a conference table. These days I love utilizing digital collaboration tools like miro.com and others to bring team mates from all over the globe together in one place to harness that same energy we had in-person.

The inital creative process for Hardwire pedal packaging
The inital creative process for Hardwire pedal packaging

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Hardwire packaging process
Hardwire packaging process

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Hardwire packaging process
Hardwire packaging process

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The inital creative process for Hardwire pedal packaging
The inital creative process for Hardwire pedal packaging

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In action:

Creative process can happen in so many ways and in so many venues. At Catapult Thinking, our creative process for our music client projects was extremely enegetic. When working on guitar amplifer packaging, I made several trips to Guitar Center and browsed for quite a while, looking at competitor packaging, listening to customers trying out guitars, drums and keyboards. Back at the studio, (before Pinterest and digital moodboard tools) we photocopied books, printed out web finds and pinned them to boards, while listening to whatever music inspired us at the moment. It was a dynamic and highly collaborative process.

Years later at Harvard Bioscience, with a global team, the creative process was decidedly different in it's evolvement due to not just hybrid work schedules locally, but global teams. We adopted brainstorming programs like miro.com and held brainstorming sessions on screen. When we weren't doing that, we made sure we were open to spontaneous Teams calls with each other when working through it. Despite being physically apart, a concerted effort to use multiple means to get together for the sake of creative process helped us push our ideas further to get great ideas for our projects.