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April 15, 2009 / davebirss

A Bible lesson for Creatives


*** Disclaimer ***
Don’t worry, I’m not going to preach at you – I’m happily agnostic and this bible verse is only here to illustrate a point. Hallelujah!

Over the years I’ve found myself chasing an unattainable creative goal. And I don’t think I’m the only one to fall  into this  fruitless trap. You see I was cursed with noble ideal of originality. And it’s only in recent times that I’ve come to accept that this is a truly impossible goal (and, if you believe the scriptures, King Solomon worked this out a few thousand years before me). But please don’t get me wrong – I’m not turning to creative theft (there’s enough of that in the industry already). I’ve just adjusted my goals to aim for something far more realistic and attainable.

My goals are now:

  • Be innovative
  • Be authentic

Being innovative is very different to being original. Originality is about doing something that no one’s ever done before – pissing on fresh intellectual snow, as it were. Innovation is about recombining things in a fresh way – taking various bits of yellow snow to construct something new. OK, that was a bad metaphor. Sorry. Most importantly, innovation is also focused on solving problems, which is our job after all.

Authenticity is a different matter altogether – and seems to be the thing that pisses me off most about a lot of advertising. If you’ve been influenced by something, you need to make sure that you’ve not betrayed its roots (this is what seemed to irritate people most about the T-mobile ‘flashmob’). You need to make sure that you’ve done something new with it. And  you should also make sure that your brand has the relevance and social permission to use it.

Sadly, it’s taken me a long time to discover this. And, again, it seems that Jean-Luc Godard reached this conclusion a long time before I did when he said:

“It’s not where you take things from
– it’s where you take them to”

Sermon over. Amen.

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