Fostering Creativity By Looking in Unlikely Places Part 2

Creative Collaboration

By Think Jar Collective contributor Shaun Brandt

Shaun Brandt ONST creativeSurrounding yourself with great people is half the creative battle, for me at least. I had the pleasure of sitting down next to Ben Weinlick at a pre-accelerator startup course that we had both enrolled in. It didn’t take long for us to realize that we both enjoyed getting weird with creativity…and bombing around on motorcycles twice our age.
We recently had the opportunity to speak at a WordCamp event on Fostering Creativity and I couldn’t think of a better partner in crime for the talk. Here is a quick look at what we felt were the “highlights” (I use that term very loosely) of my half of the talk.
Before I get into where we foster creativity at ONST Creative, I would like to share the 3 most important lessons that I have learned in my short career as an entrepreneur and creator.

(1) Find The Story: The most important part of every brand is the story. This applies to every brand, whether it’s an international juggernaut, or your personal brand. If someone doesn’t understand what you’re trying to create, tell them the story. Everyone loves fairy tales, so get Disney on ’em.

(2) Look Beyond What You’re Used To: What you already know, is just the boiling water. What I mean by that is that your education, whether formal or self-taught, should just be the beginning of what you’re cooking up. i.e. It’s the easy part. Once you have that, you need to gather inspiration from everything around you, and constantly be learning, invent, and trying new things. The only way trends change, is by people designing outside of them.

(3) Ignore Naysayers: Don’t let the bastards grind you down. Whether it’s a bad client, or a shitty review of your work, suck it up and move on. Nobody’s work, in any field, is perfect. Accept all critique and use it to excel at your craft.


So, where do I foster creativity?


(1) I surround myself with weirdos

Nancy Reagan and Mr. TWhen I say weirdos, I don’t mean those oddballs that shave various patterns in their facial hair. Weirdos are people doing something different. Pushing the envelope.

Sitting in a cubicle, or at your house alone, can be limiting to the creative process. Get out and work in different places. If you can afford to rent a desk at a collective workspace, do it. It’s worth every penny.



coffee and creativity(2) Coffee. Coffee. Coffee.




One of the most valuable things we’ve done for our business is reaching out to people we respect in the design community, and sitting down with them for coffee. Ask them what inspires them, or what stumps them. Find out the story of their brand, and tell them yours.




(3) Inject Humor

tuba for creativity

Not every project you work on is going to be interesting, so inject humour into your designs to keep the creative juices flowing. For example, when we were designing the digital presence for the BC Liberal Party, I used the blog headline “xxxxx Sleeps with Obamas Wife” in the design file. Obviously, this wasn’t true. But by plugging in little nuggets of humour, instead of using Lorem Ipsum, we were able to keep the project lighthearted on those more boring days. (In this case the client actually saw the headline by accident and luckily had a good laugh… DO NOT make this mistake)



(4) Get a hobby that doesn’t involve a computer

motorcycles and creativity

My passion/job unfortunately requires me to sit at a laptop 75% of my life. I realized quickly the importance of finding hobbies outside of the digital space. Motorcycles stole my heart a few years ago, and they continue to keep my brain creative outside of the office. Whatever you choose to do, challenge yourself constantly with it.




(5) Visit somewhere unknown

visit other places for creativity

I walk to work everyday, and I walk home from work everyday. The same route. Same shit, everyday. So much of what inspires creativity is our surroundings, so it’s not very helpful if you never change the scenery. Try and take a little different route everyday if possible. On a larger scale, visiting somewhere you’ve never been can be extremely helpful. Especially small towns, untarnished by popular design, and full of crazy cool custom lettered signs.



(6) Don’t limit meetings to meeting rooms

Alexander Graham Bell

If you’re feeling stumped by your surroundings, get off your ass and change them. Blank walls, or familiar walls, are probably the least inspiring thing in the world. Go for a walk, go for a drive, go on the roof. Anywhere for a change of pace, and a change of scenery. The extra 30 minutes it takes to have a meeting in an different location, will be well worth the creative juices pouring out of everyone involved.



(7) Be Motivated by Competitors, Not INTIMIDATED

weirdos competingEvery industry is bursting with talent, most of it undiscovered. From the traditional definition, they are all your competitors. But there is always going to be someone more talented than you, pushing the envelope harder and faster. So, be social and friendly, and embrace them. Meet the people around you doing great things. Learn from them, get inspired by them. Shit, inspire them yourself. Maybe you’ll end up collaborating on a project.

Over the last 2 years, we’ve developed a large network of talented colleagues, simply by reaching out to designers from around the world that we respect and look up to. It’s just like sports. It’s gonna be much easier to excel at basketball if you’re practicing with Lebron James instead of your beer gut restricted uncle that calls himself “White Chocolate”, no?

If you can truly harness collaboration within your industry, there really is no such thing as competition.


To see Part 1 by Ben Weinlick click this

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