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Creativity Squared: Thriving on the Hustle with Laura Rothstein


Mint's Laura on being a stare off thinker, the big three things and the need for external pressure

Creativity Squared: Thriving on the Hustle with Laura Rothstein

With 12 plus years of agency experience, Laura loves developing compelling creative ideas driven by culturally savvy insights. From integrated campaigns to scrappy initiatives, she's lead creative for a wide range of clients like Kijiji, Lay's RBC, Sobey's, and more. Before advertising, Laura was already deep-diving into culture with an MA in cultural reporting and journalism.


What kind of creative person are you?

To be frank, I’m a dilettante and a bit of a poseur. Which means, I’m interested in a lot of things, but going deep is not my jam. I’ll wear tip-to-tail skate wear while watching Dogtown and Z Boys, but then it’s on to the next thing. I’ll never be an expert or aficionado because my interest is quickly captured, but not easily sustained. Consequently, no hobbies for me, and as little routine as possible - as much as a parent of two young kids can get away with. And my speeds are full on or full stop. I think there’s sloth DNA in there somewhere - so a sense of urgency to drive me creatively is kind of critical. Otherwise I’m on the couch with a bag of chips.



How do you judge the creativity of a piece of work?

I think I’m similar to a lot of people, looking at the big three things and how they hang together: Insight, creative ideas and execution. Insight, something clever and unconventional that connects actual human behaviour to the product or brand. Not a try-hard insight either, something pure, seamless and wholly uncontrived. Then the creative idea that masterfully capitalises on it, then the sensibility in which it’s executed. Important to all of it is cultural relevance and actively liking human beings. As advertisers, we shouldn’t see them as our marks. The work should talk about or reflect something that’s grounded in humans as humans, and not as prospective consumers. 


Tell us about how you like to make creative work

I’m a real stare off into space sort of thinker, typing scraps of thoughts onto one unruly, perpetually scrolling word document. No moleskin and pen, just direct free association onto the computer. Once I have a massive sprawl of vague notions, I have to sit solo and write them out as insights and ideas. And that’s how I know if they hold water - through the process of writing, the idea evolves, builds, permutates. The actual words themselves lead me to better, more interesting places. And when I’m stuck I just sweat it, figuratively masticating on it, rolling it around in my brain, sometimes sleeplessly at night. What usually happens is once I step away from my computer - something will come to me on a walk or in the shower. But my learning curve on this is still not there - because I don’t proactively walk away. I’ll run out the clock, just sitting and stewing until I have to go get the kids or something. And every project is a start from scratch situation. I’ve never banked inspo or references for future projects. Sure, I recall things I thought were cool as I go along - but would never even occur to me to set them aside. This is not a fashionable perspective in our industry - but honestly work is compartmentalised for me. I’m not a creative director off the clock and out in the world when I’m wandering around. It gets shut off.



What external factors have shaped you and what can make or break a creative project?

I grew up in Toronto and my older brother spent a lot of time with me. He’s five years older, but we were total cronies. He’d take me to army surplus stores with him, talk me through why Dolph Ludgren’s performance in Universal Solider was the bomb, make mix tapes for me with these like in-depth, artfully crafted liner notes. I was and still am hugely influenced by his taste and aesthetic - and I think my creativity in general is really informed by our bond. He saw the world in this emotional, romanticised way - and that’s how I approach creativity too. The feels need to be big and distinctive. That said, I’ve always considered my creativity kind of latent. There needs to be external pressure for me to tap into it - timelines, expectations, competition. Cliché as it may be, I do thrive on the hustle. 

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Mint, Mon, 21 Mar 2022 14:34:58 GMT