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How Do Creatives Think?

17th April 09

Posted by Ben Malbon

Posted in creativity, process

One of the most enduringly brilliant things about working in a creative business is that, for the most part, it remains a complete mystery as to how the creative mind actually develops thinking and ideas. Much as many have tried to bring science, objectivity and rationality to advertising and marketing over the years, most would agree that the majority of breakthrough creativity somehow seems to defy rules, not follow them. It all still seems – on balance – to be more art than science. And long may that continue (in fact, I’m trying to write something up right now on the emerging battle between art and the algorithm).

I’ve been talking to Glenn Griffin (SMU-Dallas) and Deborah Morrison (U. Oregon) about this theme. These guys are professors who teach aspiring creatives and study creativity. Their latest project is a book that will showcase drawings of the creative process by some of the ad industry’s best, including BBH New York’s very own ECD Kevin Roddy (see his drawing, below), Alex Bogusky, David Baldwin, David Kennedy, Nancy Rice, Luke Sullivan and many others.

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The drawings reveal so much about each individual’s pathway to ideas and constitute a unique archive of the brain power that fuels the business. Just skimming through the early submissions from some fairly legendary creatives I was struck by both just how different they were from each other (some drawn, some cartoon, many mixing images and copy), but also how simple they were.

The book, tentatively titled Pure Process, is set for publication in Summer 2010 by How Books. Glenn and Deborah are still looking for last-minute submissions from anyone who wants to play.

Interested? You can contact them direct at pureprocess.thebook@pureprocess.org

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