Creativity, especially in advertising, can be simple: You receive a commission, you brainstorm, and you produce. The brainstorm timeline can take as long as it takes for the right idea to come to your head. It seems that the best ideas come to us naturally, like an eye-opening realization of something that makes sense within what we believe should come to be.
But what happens when that natural realization just doesn’t happen? Where should we look for inspiration?
Many artists have reliable methods that work for them. For some, listening to music opens new paths that they may not have considered before pressing play. Others may be moved by a more freeform way of scribbling out their ideas until one sticks. However, an overwhelming majority of creatives in all walks of life draw inspiration from either the past, through looking at works by predecessors, or the present world around them.
For many reasons, people, especially creatives, have an uneasiness towards the idea of drawing inspiration from the past. We all want to create something that’s never been done before. We want our idea to be a success, not just because it is good, but because it is “ours.” Seldom do we remember the truth conveyed in the words of renowned physicist Isaac Newton:
“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
Even just that last phrase, “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants,” inspired the title of one of theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking’s books, in which he builds upon the ideas that were once planted by Einstein and Copernicus. Some of the brightest minds the world has known happily admit to what we might consider “stealing” in a modern context, because without those giants of the past who did substantial work for them, they could not advance humanity in the ways that they have.
Tire makers have literally been reinventing the wheel for decades, wanting to create an optimal product with high efficiency. Even in their best attempts, musicians cannot truly create a brand new genre of music without hearing others say something along the lines of “It sounds like a mix of _____ and _____.”
Originality in many ways is like perfection: Ideal, yet practically unattainable. Maybe originality is better thought of as a spectrum, with some ideas drawing very little from external sources to others being an exact replica of a previous idea. My charge to my fellow creatives is this: do not strive for originality, and instead shift your focus to creating something that works extremely well within the context given and that ultimately you can be proud of.
Here in the creative team at Miller Ad Agency, we look at inspiration from the past and present, while keeping in mind your company’s future. We negotiate every idea along the creative process to ensure it matches the message you want to convey and in the style of how your company operates.
Building your company from the ground up? Allow us to pull you up to the shoulders of giants to explore your options of what your company can be.