Category: creativity

Gazing into the crystal ball

We are almost a full month into 2018 and I still keep coming across predictions about the year ahead. Pantone makes their predictions on the color of the year. Another will prognosticate on the hot buttons for adverts. Still someone else speculates on what’s the latest trend for logo design. Lately, I keep coming across tons of predictions for what’s ahead for UX

Here’s the funny thing: I’m hoping the creative community reads all these predictions, takes them to heart and does their very best to make them all come true. That way I will know which directions to NOT go.

Starting with a blank sheet of paper

Starting with a blank sheet of paper can be intimidating. Most would agree it’s much easier to start when something is already there.

I’ve never been one to pick up where someone left off. I find it easier – and more challenging – to capture the idea and nurture it to maturity rather than pass it off to an adoptive parent.

Carrying that analogy further, I do, however, indeed benefit from a nanny intervening at times. Someone to proof me, make sure that I’m still a fit parent and rising my idea to become a proper citizen of the world.

In Keith Richards’s autobiography Life that came out a couple of years, he talks about being able to start a song but getting stuck at a certain point. Almost every time. That’s where Mick Jagger’s brilliance came in. He was able to pick up where Keith left off.

I suppose some of this is the difference between writers and editors, or designers and production artists. All are valuable in making the final product shine.

When confronted by a blank sheet of paper (or screen), ready to create something, I almost always hear in my head the opening chords to Sonic Youth’s The Empty Page.

But that’s all right
You’re here to stay
Sing out tonight
The empty page

Sonic Youth, The Empty Page


Week links, #02


Here’s what the evidence shows about the links between creativity and depression
There’s a stereotype that mental distress is an almost inevitable part of being highly creative. But is there any substance to this idea, or have we been misled – by biographers drawn to artists with colourful and chaotic lives, and the conceits of cultural movements like the romantics?


Design in 2018 – what will graphic design look like?
As part of our series on the future of design in 2018, Standards Manual and Order co-founder Hamish Smyth looks at what will happen in graphics over the next 12 months.

Designers Finally Have A Seat At The Table. Now What?
Companies are finally listening to designers, writes Google Ventures’ Kate Aronowitz. Here’s what designers need to do now.

You’re not a designer unless…
Remember when you were learning design and your tutors told you that all you needed was was Photoshop and some ideas? Well, it turns out that there’s a whole heap of other stuff that you simply cannot call yourself a designer without.

2018 Is the Year of the Intangibles
At the Stanford we practice “design abilities” to navigate today’s incessant murkiness.

Gordon House: Designer to The Beatles, ‘Groovy Bob’ + London’s Swinging Sixties
House was an artist himself, in addition to designing for some of the most prominent figures of the era. How had we not heard of him?


The Death of Advertising
Given the contrast between the recent success enjoyed by companies like Google and Facebook and the utter paralysis being undergone by CPG companies and advertising agencies the world over, I felt this article was worth republishing. Advertising will not “die,” per se, but what will are the brands that succeeded in a world without the unparalleled access that Facebook and Google afford consumers and producers to each other; brands that succeeded precisely because Facebook and Google did not yet exist. The advertising that emerges in tandem with the new — brands borne out of the existence of Facebook and Google — is already different enough so as to warrant penning an obituary for the advertising that emerged in tandem with the old. This is that obituary.

Hands up who’s heard of TOM McELLIGOTT?

More brilliance from Mr Trott: SHOW DON’T TELL

Return on Influence, the New ROI
The more marketers accept the concept of measuring influence relative to reach, the quicker social media industry standards will surface. Social networking revolves around the art of people interacting with people, not logos. People have influence. Things do not. Ultimately, influence is power that differentiates.

How to Build ROI and Accountability into Your Marketing Plan
While determining the right marketing mix can be a significant undertaking in itself, some of the biggest challenges associated with building a strategic marketing plan include assigning accountability and resources for each task, staying on track throughout the year and demonstrating your plan’s impact and ROI.

Is Jeff Goodby the Best Copywriter at Goodby Silverstein & Partners?
Why Specialization isn’t the secret to success

Time is on your side. Or should be.
For about thirty years, I’ve regularly done “The New York Times” crossword puzzle. For about the last ten years, I’ve confined my efforts to the Sunday puzzle. I’ve always regarded it as a reward for the week gone by, and a way to relax and unwind.


Are You Having Trouble Focusing? These Simple Strategies Will Help
In today’s always-on, information-overloaded world, it can be hard to stay focused throughout the day. How often do you find yourself distracted by inner chatter during meetings? Or how often do you find that emails are pulling you away from more important work?

How to Become More Productive Using the Pomodoro Method
It’s deceptively simple and hard to wrap your brain around if you’re like most people, working hours on end without allowing yourself to stop (because you think you can’t). However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Designing Your Life Through Design Thinking
Design thinking has helped me create new products, imagine new retail concepts, & solve other abstract challenges. It has also helped me to design a better life for myself. In fact, I believe design thinking may have helped save my life and that it has the power to save the lives of others.

Week links #51

Alvin and Elaine Lustig. More about Mr L is a future post.

A quick note: While cobbling together my list of interesting articles read this week, although it may be clear what week these were actually read in, but it might not be apparent if you land on my site haphazardly. So I decided to label the weeks and will continue to do so in 2018. With that, here are the links from the 2nd to last week of 2017:

How to Kill Creativity
Tina Seelig
Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Stanford. Author, What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20, inGenius, Creativity Rules

How To Unleash Your Creativity, From A Stanford Professor
Everyone has ideas. Some of us even have great ideas. But not everyone has ideas that grow into multi-million dollar businesses. What is it about those few people that makes them capable of using their creativity in such clever entrepreneurial ways? How do they go from a simple idea to full-blown successes?

18 Designers Predict UI/UX Trends for 2018
Designers are always looking toward the future — in our “build and ship it now” industry we’re programmed to iterate ad finitum. In the end, a designer’s obsession always circles back to one simple question: How can we improve the user’s experience?

How Digital Marketing Will Change In 2018: 15 Top Trends
The move into 2018 also comes with a shift in digital marketing. New trends are entering the marketplace and your company needs to pay attention or you may be forced by the wayside. With the need to become more visible and reach more customers, the digital marketing of tomorrow offers advancements in emerging technologies as consumers demand a more integrated experience.

Your 2018 new year’s resolution: ignore the digital hype and be channel-neutral
The birth of any technology usually leads to enthusiastic overuse and then eventual moderation. Gartner’s Hype Cycle is a good visualization of the pattern. As the New Year approaches, many companies are climbing towards the Peak of Inflated Expectations by moving towards digital with abandon that just might be reckless.

Why Great Experience Design Starts With A Story
Sometimes, words are worth a thousand wireframes.

Frank Lloyd Wright at 150
The Curbed guide to the most famous architect in U.S. history
Frank Lloyd Wright’s talent, creativity, and output are the reasons he’s still remembered on his 150th birthday, lionized for launching a modern, multifaceted American architecture.

Feeling the Squeeze?
“In the past, an author who published a book probably would’ve paid a freelancer $5,000 to create and update his site,” says Jeffrey Zeldman, one of the two web-design masterminds behind An Event Apart. “Today, if your clients are just looking for a beautiful site with a little bit of content, Wix and Squarespace will definitely cut into your market share. And if you’ve been charging $300,000 on projects, that market is narrowing too. You need to do more than spit out a boilerplate proposal that lists the client’s technical specs and create something pretty—you need to become a strategic partner.”

“By aligning strategies from revenue, video, editorial, and audience departments, news products can lessen the assault on their users’ senses. If we understand and attempt to calibrate internal competing goals, we fix the external experience.”


10 reasons why creatives should start working with a pen and paper
Have you thought about the effect technology has on your creative work? Maybe you should. Over the years, as agencies connected our desktops to the internet, wired our offices with wifi, doled out laptops and finally, smartphones, few paused to consider their impact on our work.

Dreamweaver: Maryanne Moodie spins us a yarn about technology, the art of the loom, and slow creativity
Welcome to Life Well Lived: an ongoing conversation around how we can use technology to improve our lives. In this final installment of our series, we spoke with Maryanne Moodie, Instgram’s and the design world’s favorite modern loomer on the link between coding and weaving and how technology informs her creative practice.

Journey Mapping is Key to Gaining Empathy
This article is for people who already have a basic understanding of journey mapping, but if you are totally new to the tool and how to create one, UX Lady has a great example where she uses the metaphor of baking as a way to map out experiences.

The future of marketing is in the past
These are your customers: talk at them or talk with them?

Don’t Hack It. 5 Things You Can Do to Gain Real Respect as a Thought Leader in 2018
Thought leadership is a lifestyle decision, not a LinkedIn headliner.

Social And Emotional Skills: Everybody Loves Them, But Still Can’t Define Them

Friends First. Then Design.
Genuine Connections and The Messy, Wonderful World of Good Design

Elaine Lustig Cohen on the late Alvin Lustig and the art, and archiving, of the book jacket.


Trott & Fletcher

As previously discussed, Alan Fletcher’s The Art of Looking Sideways is one of the books I derive immense inspiration from whenever the well runs dry. Also as previously mentioned, I discovered Dave Trott this year and have found enormous pleasure in reading his posts all over the web and his books.

In grokking about these books, I landed on an interesting correlation about both these gentleman: They’re really kind of the same.

Both Fletcher and Trott write in  short, lively, easy to digest bursts of goodness. Both tackle a wide range of subject matter but always bring it back home to make a point about their field, either design or advertising.

The difference is that Trott deals in words and Fletcher handles the visuals. Both are all about ideas and connecting them to other seemingly unrelated ideas. Both explore the boundaries of creativity.

Both Trott and Fletcher should be essential part of any creative person’s library.