Being Creative — It’s All in the Eyes.

“Creativity is a wild mind and a disciplined eye.”
—Dorothy Parker

I get asked all the time by marketing, account management and business people how I’d come up with that idea, concept or visual. And I usually just say, “It’s all about how you see it.” And most don’t ask any further.

Well I’ve decided to give away the secret. This is how marketing and business people can start to develop their own creative eye. How they can develop better creative briefs. How they can better review concepts and execution work from their in-house and outside creative groups. And, it’s as simple as learning how to see.

I teach graphic design and creativity at the college level and start every class the same way. I have every student stand up. I have them look around the room and ask them to take notice the surroundings, people and the feeling of the room.

I then ask the students to climb up and stand on top of their desks. Everyone always thinks I’m kidding and after a minute or two everyone in the class is standing on their desks. Their heads are in the lights, they can reach the ceiling with their hands and any passers by get a little confused on what going on in our classroom.

Once we’re all on top of the desks, I ask them to now take notice of the surroundings, people and the feeling of the room. It’s radically different. It’s a whole new view of their surroundings. It creates a different feeling. For some scary, for others fun and others just think I’m crazy. But for all, it’s a new way of seeing the room.

I then say; “If you remember nothing else from my class, remember standing on your desk and how it made you see the room completely different. When you’re home struggling to develop creative ideas and concepts … mentally stand on your desk.”

The desk exercise is to help my students understand that being creative is just learning to really see. Seeing thing from a different perspective. You can do the same by starting to look at things differently … for instance, if you’re selling a product:

What if it was huge or bigger than a building?

What if it was tiny or as small as an ant?

What if you were under it?

What if you were on top of it?

What if you ate it?

What if it was red?

What if it was black and white?

What if Jon Stewart was describing it?

What if Jimmy Fallon promoted it?

What if it was a cartoon?

What if it was shy?

What if it went to school?

What if my Mom promoted it?

What if it exploded?

What if it imploded?

What if you watched it grow up?

What if …?

As you can see, when you start to see “what if” you can get really silly or crazy and you should. The goal is to break loose of what the normal view of your product, service, or even your category typically is. And nothing is too far as it can spur another idea.

In my early creative days, one of my writers and I would force each other to come up with 100 concepts for each and every project. That may sound daunting, but it was actually freeing. To come up with that many ideas, you had to let loose and really open your eye.

Patrick Fultz is the President/CCO of DM Creative Group, a creative marketing firm producing work across all media. He’s an art-side creative, marketing strategist, designer and lover of all things type. His credentials include a degree from Parsons School of Design with 15 years of teaching at his alma mater, over 40 industry creative awards, and he previously served as President of the John Caples International Awards. Always an innovator, Fultz was credited with creating the first 4-color variable data direct mail piece ever produced. He continues to look for innovative ways to tap the powerful synergy of direct mail, the web, digital and social media.

Publish date: September 10, 2015 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT