Sometimes the most interesting ideas are right in front of you.

  • By JC
  • January, 2022

For an artist, sometimes it can be in short supply and difficult to break out from the norm.

We’re all looking for that killer design or sound solution to a problem when the client throws up his arms and yells ‘…that’s brilliant!!’ and then gives you a bear-hug.


Google doesn’t always have the answer

There is so much ‘inspiration’ available online now, there, right in front of you.

Zillions of ‘how-to-create’ sources, templates, websites, video, tutorials, guru-guides, blog spheres etc, or, you can always google inspiration.

But man, what a load of faff to look through. And that’s before you might get close to that perfect solution to that imperfect composition or lyric.

Do we need to look that far?


Random thinking in a random world

There are a couple of things that have helped me: I’ve got Edward de Bono and an old mac-illiterate creative director to thank for that.

De Bono is world renowned for his six thinking hats. He coined the term lateral thinking and is the grand-daddy and guru of creative thinking.

My ex-creative director was a guru as well. Known for his honesty and straight-talking, he told is at it is. He was doing it when macs were only known as overcoats or Scottish friends. More about him later.


Every second counts

Apart from his thinking hats, de Bono also discusses other creative techniques.

One, quite random, involves 60 words and a second hand of a timepiece.

On a pad (or use your favourite text app), write down 60 random words - the more random the better and nouns work best. Mark them up 1 to 60.

Put aside until needed.

When you need some random inspiration, take a glance at your watch. What is the second hand on?

Ahh, it’s pointing at 7 seconds. Let me check my 60 random words… 7 seconds is telling me “nose”. Now I’ve got to create an ad to sell this printer… mmm, I love that smell of new… the smell of success… freshness… there in front of your face… a distinguishing feature… can’t miss it… and so on.

The hardest (and most fun) part is to stick with that word at 7 seconds. Don’t be tempted to duck out and select another word. Force yourself to use that word or emotional connection to that word. Bored with the same random words? Change them after a while.

For an even quicker solution, open a book or newspaper and blindly point your finger at a word on a page… I’ve just chosen from The Daily Mail - “season” - now, that’s something I can use all year round…


Talk, talk

My mac-illiterate creative director operated in a more open manner. He used things around him and believed in physical interaction. And while creating he talked, a lot.


Can you kick it…

One of his ground-breaking designs (he was one of the first designers to design generic own brand basic labels) occurred after a visit to the kitchen.

Someone had peeled off a label on a used can of beans, leaving a bare tin can on the side in the kitchen.

My old creative director went to make his favourite brew and noticed there was also a thick black marker pen left on the side. Impulsively, he wrote Beanz (yes, Beanz), on the side of the tin and kicked it into the studio. He asked us then to physically and verbally kick the idea around.


…yes, you can

Someone failed to spot the tin as it ended up in a dark corner. My creative director then grabbed some bright yellow paper and taped it around the can. He grabbed a hefty blue marker (no black marker available) from a desk and scrawled Beanz on the wrapping. “You’ve got to be blind to miss that now” he exclaimed, and lobbed the can to his boss who took one look at, paused, then wrote ‘Our’ above the word Beanz, and shouted “Brilliant!”.

And so was born a whole range of ‘Our’ packaging for grocer’s shelves. I think the final range totaled over 100 items…

Not bad for a new idea kicked around an old studio…

The time it takes to make a decision increases as the number of alternatives increases.

William Edmund Hick