Synapse to it! A practical guide to being more creative

By J.P. Lincoln


Being creative is about coming up with new ideas. And if it’s new ideas you after, it’d be a good idea to understand just what an idea is. (Much) earlier in my career working as an account man for an ad agency, former Y&R Creative Director Jack Foster spoke to us about his new book, How to Get Ideas. No single book has had a more profound impact on my own ideation abilities.

So what is it? According to Jack, “An idea is nothing more nor less than a new combination of old elements.” Creativity comes from unlikely juxtapositions. There’s perfume and then there’s a Whopper with cheese. Burger King’s then agency of record Crispin Porter+ Bogusky put those two old elements together in a new way and came up with Flame by BK. Voila! Two old elements thrust into a new combination and an idea is born.

Get more inputs
Another epiphany gleaned from Jack Foster is that creativity can actually be… ‘Fostered’.  Not an avid Guns and Ammo reader? Next time you’re a newsstand, why not leaf through an issue? Take the same route to work every day? Try taking a different route, even if it is longer. Like watching Antiques Roadshow? How about a YouTube video on how marbles are made instead? Like reading biographies? Slum it with a Carl Hiaasen novel next time.  GET MORE INPUTS! The more inputs you have, the broader your arsenal of possible connections.

I love graphic design and am getting better at it every day. And not by designing every day. By getting more inputs—increasing my visual vocabulary by exposing myself to an enormous amount of visual stimulus. Beyond pouring through my beloved Communications Arts magazine every other month, the Web is perfect foil for input cramming. Here are three of my go to sites for design inspiration: A dead perfect input generator because you never know what is going to come up on the next stumble. Leave the curation to them. A no holds barred smorgasbord of images—sometimes even naughty ones. A World wide portfolio compendium from graphic designers, illustrators, animators and visual artists.

Try getting a few more inputs in your life. Trust me, if you do, the next time you’re confronted with a blank page, it won’t be blank for long.

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