Simon Veksner (aka Scamp) made an interesting point about creative people.
He says, “I’ve noticed that the very best creatives don’t tend to get bored, because they’re the ones who are complete novelty whores, in other words they’re the ones who are most easily bored/scared of boredom in the first place. If that makes any sense.
It also explains why they win so many awards. New stuff wins awards.”
I agree with him, really creative people are fascinated by ‘new’ stuff.
But that doesn’t just mean the latest technology.
It means stuff that is new to them.
It might be a hundred years old, but they’ve never seen it before.
It might be an African sculpture, a Russian film, a shocking piece of grafitti, a graphic wine label, a strange chair.
The cleverness, for them, is in finding something original and unusual.
Paul Arden had a progressive lung disease.
For the last year of his life he couldn’t leave his oxygen machine.
He had a tube running from it that allowed him to walk around the ground floor of his cottage.
My son and daughter called him up to say they were coming down to see him. (He and his wife, Toni, were their godparents).
He said, “Yes, but you can only come if you bring two new things each. And they mustn’t be to do with advertising.”
Even stuck in a cottage at the end of an oxygen tube he wanted stimulation.
He wanted to be surprised.
He wanted his own imagination triggered and his optimism for possibility fired.
He wanted the thrill that it hasn’t all been done yet.
That there’s still tons left to do out there, if only we’ll look.
And it’s not just waiting for Apple or Nokia to launch a new gimmick.
That’s as creative as waiting for a train to come into the station, and being the first to jump on.
The point isn’t in waiting for someone else to invent something new.
The point is in discovering something fresh and exciting yourself.
That’s why the walls of John Webster’s office were full of pieces of paper he’d torn out of books or magazines.
Illustrations, paintings, photographs he knew he’d use one day.
Magritte, Steinberg, Bet Hardy or, better yet, someone unknown.
Carl Ally was of the great New York agencies.
Carl Ally himself used to say, “The creative person wants to be a know-it-all. He wants to know about all kinds of things: ancient history, nineteenth century mathematics, current manufacturing techniques, flower arranging, and hog futures.
He never knows when these ideas might come together to form a new idea. It may happen six minutes later, or six years down the road.
But the creative person has faith that it will happen.”
The funny thing I notice is that this naïve attitude, this openness, the child like thrill of discovering new things seems to be more prevalent among art directors than copywriters.
Is it nature or nurture?
Do you learn that at art school?
Or do you go to art school because you’re already like that?
Either way it’s a much better way to go through life.
On a voyage of constant discovery.
That way you squeeze every drop out of your time on the planet
Even at the very end Paul Arden still wanted to know what’s new.
What hadn’t he seen yet.