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4 Things I've Learned About the Creative Process

February 26, 2014

Having been an Account Manager for a few years, I’ve learned a few things about the creative process. But this Fall I had the opportunity to take a class on creative concepts and really got to see the creative process from the “other side.” This offered a different perspective and put me a little outside my comfort zone. Here are the 4 big takeaways I garnered from the class and my experience:

1. Creativity defined is freeing.


In this class we defined creativity as the combining of two ideas that have never been brought together previously. Not to toot our own horn, but my favorite Mission example of this is the Brew at the Zoo branding, which combines a mug of brew with the head of an animal. The execution is great, but the simple combination of two ideas is really what stands out for me.

2. Creativity is more important than technical skill.

The first thing the professor told us this Fall was that there are plenty of graphic designers out there who can master the Adobe Creative Suite, but very few who can take on the challenge of submitting a truly creative idea. I’d have to agree; before my time at Mission I worked with some designers who were “order takers” – their work looked great, but you never got more than you asked for. The ideal situation is when you are confident that you can explain the problem/goal and then let the creative juices flow for your team…and then rest assured that you’re going to get back much more than you asked for.

3. Creativity results in an “Ah-ha” moment.

Maryland Zoo Banner Ad

The design can’t be too obvious. You have to engage the viewers by allowing them to fill in the missing pieces. It can’t be too complicated either. After only a few seconds, you should grin to yourself and say, “Oh, I get it!” It’s just like a good joke…not always immediate but it makes a campaign memorable and likeable, and thus effective. Clearly, I’m a fan of our work on the Maryland Zoo because one of my favorite examples of this is a recent “Membership Ad” for the Zoo. The words and the copy connect so well that the “Ah-ha” moment is inevitable!

4. Creativity cannot be rushed.

It takes time to be creative. And some projects take longer than others. During this class, some project solutions would be conceived the day we received the assignment, while others we would struggle with right up until the deadline. You can’t rely on an idea to fall into your lap; even if you are lucky enough for that to happen, it usually needs to be tweaked. We all have enough experience to know deadlines are a part of the business but my job is to allow reasonable time for the team to deliver great work…and they always do.

I am definitely not a designer, but my brief time in that world – and being on the receiving end of the challenges I dish out every day – left me with a true appreciation for the times I open a creative presentation and have that moment of pride.

To see more great examples of truly creative pieces, check out our work. Two of my favorites are our identity work for Maryland Wine and the acceptance package (surprise!) that we conceived for Sante Fe University of Art and Design.