The Beatles in the studio in 1969 / Apple Corps Ltd
"creativity is a gift; it doesn't come through if the air is cluttered" - John Lennon
Creativity has no rhyme or reason. It happens when it happens, most often when we least expect it. There has forever been an unrealistic expectation that creative sparks ought to fly from 9 to 5; agencies have leaned into this idea for eons. Scheduled meeting times rule these landscapes – Creatives bunkered down in rooms together or chin-stroking at their own desks, attempting to crack the creative code, often with uninspiring results.
With the rise of in-house agencies, the need to develop an environment for Creatives to shine is no longer just an agency requirement. In an age where all businesses need to tell their own stories, nurturing creative talent has become a universal concern.
Through our collective years of experience creating content for leading brands, we’ve sponged up some top tips and useful approaches that will help your Creatives to do their best work.
Quentin Tarantino in his home office.
Creativity is chaotic
There’s a lot to love about the collaborative energy of office spaces, but the expectation that the “perfect way in” will magically reveal itself in these constraint-heavy environments is simply too much to ask. Creativity doesn’t work in straight lines, and doesn’t happen in prescribed windows or through a step-by-step process.
Creativity needs space
Creativity genuinely has a mind of its own. That’s partly what makes it so beautiful – an intangible force that manifests differently in each and every one of us. From a peaceful walk through your local park at lunchtime, to the revitalising rush of water in the shower, or sinking into your favourite tune through noise-cancelling headphones – the return to work will be with fresh fervour.
Idle time may not be so idle
For those on the outside looking in, there’s a misconception that creative folk, in the midst of inspiration-hunting, are simply wasting time and avoiding their responsibilities. But in actual fact, it’s these moments of solitude and mental clarity that breed creativity. Most importantly, these moments create space in the human mind, space to be filled with brilliant and imaginative solutions. Embrace them and trust the process!
Tapish / Unsplash
Home is where the heart is
Ever since the pandemic turned the world upside down, flexible working arrangements have bloomed, as has creative work. Copywriters, art directors, designers and everyone in between do their best work when nobody is nipping at their heels.
Nowadays, remote working reigns supreme and it’s important to nurture a sense of community between your creative counterparts. Create spaces – be they physical or virtual – where your team can collaborate and bond over things outside of calendar invites, timesheets, production schedules and WIPs.
But, Creatives do need to come through
All that said, companies have deadlines and deliverables that cannot be avoided, and there needs to be a universal understanding and acceptance that there’s a business to run. Creatives need to come through on their deliverables. Without producing great work in a timely manner, a business’s wheels would simply fall off.
It’s all about finding that balance, that sweet spot, where creative ranks feel like they can do their best work without feeling puppet mastered. We’re well aware that this balance we speak of is elusive. An equilibrium that businesses everywhere are searching for and, if they find it, are trying desperately to hold onto.
Fred Morley / Fox Photos / Getty Images
Do work that matters
In a perfect world (spoiler: perfection doesn’t exist), Creatives yearn for work that truly matters to them. It can be challenging as a creative team to find a purple patch of productivity between projects you’re passionate about versus the work that simply needs doing.
From our perspective, the elixir to keep your creative troops motivated is company culture. A strong and healthy work culture softens the blow of a tedious brief with which your team doesn’t completely resonate. An alignment on collective values within your crew can be a more effective motivator than just juicy pay cheques.
Write inspiring briefs
If a brief isn’t rousing or well-informed, there’s no hope for quality creative thought. A thorough brief requires a deep understanding of the specific audiences that your work will be consumed by, what they want to get out of it, and what their mindset is when consuming it. In many cases, an inspiring brief can steer once dreary projects down exciting channels.
It might sound strange but they also need constraints. If you let Creatives play in a psychological sandbox without borders, you’ll run into issues. While a brief needs to leave room for creativity it also needs specificity.
“if you give somebody constraints, it’s easier to be creative” – Orson Welles
Along with being tight and well-constructed on the page, briefs should also be delivered with gusto and enthusiasm – be it in person or via video call. If a suit is mumbling through a briefing, obviously not engaged, how on earth can you expect your creative talent to feel like it’s worthwhile either?
Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford in “Mommie Dearest” – the ultimate prima donna. Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images
Beware the Prima Donna
Brilliant talent is often packaged with outsized egos. Despite their brilliance, prima donnas can suck the creative air out of a studio, making life horrible for your young doers. Our advice – know how to pick them, and how to handle them. We feel it’s important to remain receptive when dealing with such characters as they will often surprise you with moments of divine brilliance.
Creativity dies on an empty stomach
Often underestimated is the fuel that feeds Creatives’ second brain, the stomach. In many corporate headquarters across Europe, a beautifully stocked kitchen and chef are a normality – a simple and effective way to keep your right-brained crew humming.
Celebration nourishes the soul
Now, we don’t want to sound like we’re encouraging unproductiveness but it’s important to acknowledge the colourful social lives that Creatives often lead.
Whether it’s a copywriter out til 4 am busting moves to house music or a producer knee-deep in a torrid bachelorette weekend, it’s situations like these that are not only a welcome escape from the working world but also serve as inspiration when it comes to solving a brief.
“if you want creative workers, give them enough time to play” – John Cleese
Monty Python and “The Holy Grail” – Cinemaflix
Nurturing Creative talent isn’t easy but it’s worth the effort
Creatives are full of wonder; dazzled by the world around them and the people in it. With that in mind, we feel there’s merit to becoming a conduit between your team and pioneers who are crushing it in their respective fields. From the guy growing underwater kelp that serves as an alternative food source for livestock, to the all-female Indigenous firefighting brigade putting their lives on the line to protect their community. If those within your company’s walls see it’s possible to break boundaries in other walks of life, it’s living proof they can in theirs too.
Happy creatives make the world go round, and we hope that our insights assist you in fostering an environment more conducive to creative brilliance; a world where your team are eager to contribute ingenious ideas irrespective of whether they’ve been dancing until the wee hours or trapped on a bachelorette weekend they wish they never said yes to.