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Creativity Squared: Landing the Trick with Timo ter Braak

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Herc Amsterdam art director on trash talking, skateboarding and the importance of execution

Creativity Squared: Landing the Trick with Timo ter Braak

Timo ter Braak is 32 years old. He’s currently working as an art director at HERC Amsterdam. In his spare time he likes riding his skateboard or motorcycle. If all of this doesn’t sound adventurous enough he also runs a tiny clothing brand called ‘Modern Sperm’. Have fun Googling that. These are his four sides of creativity.


I started skateboarding at age 14 and that has shaped me a lot as a person. The act of skateboarding and the culture around it are very sincere and honest. There’s not a lot of space for faking it – you either land a trick or you don’t. If you decide to get into it as a kid, that whole approach forces you to go the extra mile and learn new stuff. You set goals for yourself and progress, but most of all you have fun. I guess that helped me in finding out what kind of work I like, developing certain skills and creating that work myself.

Skating by yourself is quite boring, it’s something I’ve never enjoyed. So while on a skateboard, you’re constantly being triggered by friends around you. When you go out skating with friends, you constantly push each other. First you warm up with tricks you already know, later you go and dive into new stuff. Routine should never be the final station. That’s very boring.

The trash talking from the right people around you encourages you to try things you haven’t done before, because your friends can truly get on your nerves. That’s a dynamic I still enjoy, and that’s why I still like to work with friends a lot. Luckily people talk trash to me daily at HERC, keeping me agitated and pushing boundaries.


I rarely judge a piece of work just by its creativity. Obviously, it’s the whole thing that counts. In skateboarding there’s a specific set of terms that skaters use to judge a trick: a trick is either ABD (already been done) and NBD (never been done). It’s a bit of a gimmick or a joke, but still there’s something in those terms that makes sense. If you’ve seen something a thousand times before (ABD), then the execution must be really really good to make it stand out. On the other hand, some things can also surprise you because they are ground breaking and NBD.

But the idea shouldn’t surpass the execution. In that sense, execution, or style is most important to me in the end.


The little clothing brand I run, called Modern Sperm, is a place where that idea is widely supported. It is a platform, a collective outlet where design, photography, film, music all come together. The starting point is a corny or funny idea, and from there the enthusiasm should radiate to everyone involved in the project, so that it becomes a shared idea with a shared responsibility. Everyone contributes their own bit based on their own expertise, so everyone has ownership over a certain idea. It is always a group effort, and above all it’s the enthusiasm that should be visible throughout the work. At HERC we share a similar way of working. It’s a tribe of creatives, with mixed experiences. With every brief the right people with the right experiences will be linked. 

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HERC the Agency, Fri, 20 Aug 2021 09:31:07 GMT