People in association withPeople on LBB
Creative Inspiration Series: Tapping into What You Know to Make Something New
London, UK
Creatives from Havas, The Creative 9 and Howatson+Co share their top tips and tricks for finding fresh ideas, writes LBB’s Nisna Mahtani
[Photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash]

Welcome to the second installation of LBB’s creative inspiration series. This time, creatives from around the world share what they’ve seen and heard that's had the power to inspire them enough to become an idea. 

While some immerse themselves in their hobbies, others drift to social media or find themselves settling in for a movie proving that creative inspirations really can come from everyday encounters. Here, Creatives from Havas, The Creative 9 and Howatson+Company share their own unique processes with LBB’s Nisna Mahtani. 

Bobby Ford, ECD, JUMP and Havas Entertainment, part of Havas Media Group

In a post-Covid world, it’s strange what you miss, and for me it’s my daily commute, as that used to give me time to zone out, put some loud beats on and let the world pass me by, allowing my mind to wander and think about new creative ideas. I’ve also been missing people. It’s been tough not having folks to bounce ideas off. When it comes to stretching your thinking and taking it in ways you couldn’t imagine, you can’t beat having a diverse group of people in the room – it creates real buzz, and different people bring different ideas, experiences and points of view to the table.

I’m lucky enough to work a four-day week, so I use my fifth day to go back to my beginnings and passion, which is design. Working on the design projects in my downtime helps me to stay focused and creative, and inspired to think differently, in my day job.

I’m a big believer in absorbing influences and inspiration from everywhere. As a very visual person, I love to look on social to see what’s happening and while away the hours. I often find myself down a TikTok or Insta wormhole, exploring videos and other content, which all helps inspire new thoughts and nuggets of ideas. I would encourage everyone to do the same, as there’s so much amazing talent out there.

We’ve recently been working on the launch of Studio Canal’s TikTok channel, so we’ve been doing lots of scrolling across social platforms to see any trends and how they can feed into our own thinking. The great thing about this as a project is that it evolves daily and we have to be quick to take it in different directions.

When it comes to recording ideas, I’m not much of a sketcher, despite being a designer. I tend to make lots of notes, draw flowcharts, and I always keep a notepad to hand in case inspiration strikes. 

When it comes to new briefs, I like to jot some notes down straight away, as I usually find the thoughts you have at this point, when you’re most excited about the task, are the freshest. I then revisit them later, pull them apart, build on them, so they become fully formed and hopefully half decent. 

[Pictured above: Bobby Ford]

Rola Ghotmeh, founder & CCO, The Creative 9

If you’re reading this, then you can probably relate.

Being creative comes naturally for you, right? Yet, it’s not always the case. It is more delicate than one may think, let alone being creative while answering briefs with the subject “urgent” written on the header. Safe to presume you’re familiar with this and that you too, find yourself in a pickle sometimes.

Here is one way it might go down; You do the brainstorming, alone or with some peers
(whatever works for you), and land on an idea that makes you jump off your seat. Only, the next day you come back to it and wonder, what the heck was I thinking? Eughk.

When faced with a brain drain, one might search for that magic that inspires a sudden flow of ideas, and not just any ideas. THE IDEA that makes you daydream of:
The client clapping
Your peers cheering
The award shows recognising you
Your parents crying
The Oscars!

I digressed.

Let’s face it, there isn’t a specific formula per se, but here is how I approach a mental block.
I talk to people. It doesn’t have to be about the brief itself, yet discussions that may relate to one aspect of it or another, without necessarily stating it.

I watch short animations, films, and content. I distract myself with something completely irrelevant. I also might recur to old books and magazines (can’t believe I used “old” to describe print) and online research like the typical suspects: Trendland, Behance, Pinterest, adsoftheworld, Archive, and the list grows. You know, down the rabbit hole.

Recently I also found that spending time with Kids can be inspiring. Now that I have nephews, we invent stories together, play or draw. Which sometimes sparks an unexpected idea. When the time is short, and all of the above is not even a possibility I go back to the drawing board. What are we trying to say? And why? I do a mind mapping exercise, and that leads me -more often than not- somewhere cool.

I like bouncing ideas with peers and team members and hearing the ideas out loud to see if they have legs. I like the exchange, and I really like it when it improves the initial idea.
When creating, I write my ideas, find some references, and most of the time I try them out with a rough sketch or mock up- though a lot of the time it stays in my head until it takes shape as a finalised piece.

[Pictured above: Rola Ghotmeh]

Levi Slavin, CCO, Howatson+Co

When I started to write about where my inspiration comes from, I drew a blank. My ideas come from somewhere, but they don’t feel like they come from me. At least not the good ones.
Sure, I go for a walk when I’m stuck on a project. Or, like most creative people, I collect conversations, characters, dialogue, scenes, music, art, tech and innovation. And it helps that I am a daydreamer—it gets so bad sometimes I find myself following the car in front. But those are techniques to unlock the place where ideas come from.
Staring at my blank screen, about to miss the deadline (as always), my son ran into the room holding a minion and a Deadpool figurine and said, “You won’t believe what Deadpool just said to Bob!”
To be frank, it didn’t make a lot of sense, so I won’t include the details, but I realised that my ideas come from the same place as Deadpool’s voice.
My six-year-old son has a remarkable imagination. We often overhear him mediating arguments between his toys. The arguments are usually made up of soundbites from his day, pulled without filter from his subconscious. Like the time Black Panther refused to eat his dinner. Or the time Spider Man told everyone to be quiet because he had a migraine.
My son is such an accomplished shaman, he doesn’t even feel responsible for the conversations. The voices aren’t his. If Hulk swears, and my boy gets told off, he blames Hulk.
As professional creatives, we work hard to find shortcuts to this place. It’s not easy. Especially when you have the distractions of mortgages, deadlines, email, and all of that other grown-up stuff.
It’s a place of play.
So, for me, creative inspiration unlocks when I’m enjoying myself. That usually requires a quiet place without children. Or sitting with someone funny and sharing ideas.
When I’m not doing that, I refill my subconscious and follow cars.

[Pictured above: minion and a Deadpool figurine (L) and Levi Slavin (R)]

Work from LBB Editorial
Hero: Focus
Full Story