09 April 2007

Most Unlikely Source of Inspiration

You never know when inspiration will strike.

Right now I'm working on a very top level project with one of my favourite clients and there's lots of pressure to perform... not very condusive for a creative approach - at least not for me.

In all fairness, most of the pressure is self-inflicted... I've got pride on the line, and, failure is not an option. At least it's not an option that I've considered lately.

So, tight timelines, huge expectations and a schedule that would send most people running - how do I get inspired for the next great idea?

Getting a truly great idea, one that I think is perfect for a client is something that actually comes pretty easy for me. Unfortunately it's not a tap. Great ideas usually come to me as the result of a lot of thought and research - when everything aligns the idea practically presents itself to me. Cool, eh?

The tough part is articulating the idea in a way that others will understand. So, I then have to spend hours justifying my idea, mostly to myself because if I can sell myself on an idea then I probably will be successful in presenting it to my client. If a client poo-poo's my idea it's usually because I didn't spend enough time selling myself first, I didn't work out the bugs or I didn't fully understand the end customers needs or wants. I'm not sure if this is how they teach it at idea school, but it works for me.

So, when I'm working on a major project, my thoughts are consumed by it every waking minute, even in my dreams, seriously. I think about how a product will be looked at by the customers, how it will be bought, anticipated, justified, bragged about, talked about or dissed and I look at how it will be marketed, how it will be promoted and sold and how it will be received. I wonder what the customer would be thinking as they go through the motions with the product, their experiences as they first meet their new thing-a-ma-jig. I think about it non stop, everything I see, hear, feel, smell and taste makes me think about it even more. And then BAM! I see a piece of string and go 'That's it!' - it's all about the string...

You're probably wondering... string? What does string have to do with anything.... well, that's all it takes, one little piece of something, anything to open the floodgates. In this case it happened to be string, and it evolved into a packaging experience that I designed for a luxury computer manufacturer. The packaging appealed to all senses, sight, sound, touch, smell and taste and all of this was based in earthy, organic, texture based materials that were completely opposite of the actual product - a juxtaposition with modern machinery and ancient living. The piece of string was tied to every thought I had for the weeks leading up to its discovery, it was tied to the client's core beliefs about their customer and it was tied to my understanding of the end customer and their expectations. So, when I saw the string, all my thoughts combined as one and became 'the' idea.

It's not always a piece of string though. That time it was, other times it has been wheat, an air filter, a bubble inside a soap bottle, a blue light (not the one at K-mart), a lamp post (see my last posting), leather, silk screen dots at 45 line screen, beer (probably the inspiration for many other things too), stairs, comics, album covers, music... lots of music. And then today, while I worked onsite at a clients office, in and amongst the cubicle infestation, I looked upon the utilitarian landscape and something caught my eye... a piece of fused wire mesh.

My new muse is fused.

Stay tuned.