Cultivating Creative Culture in 2018

Opinion and Insight 224 Add to collection
Taylor James creative director Alex Smith shares his New Year's resolutions
Cultivating Creative Culture in 2018

Advertising is hard work. It requires long hours, but it shouldn’t leave the people on the front lines feeling that some essential part of themselves has been compromised. My goal for 2018 is to further develop our creative culture at Taylor James. I want it to be a place that leaves a lasting impression on its alumni. 

Creative people need an environment that simultaneously nurtures and challenges them in order to grow. They need to experience competition and camaraderie to do their best work. That kind of culture doesn’t miraculously materialise; you have to grow it and that requires time and care. 

One big aspect of this effort will be a stronger focus on mentoring and investing in our junior creatives. All too often, creative firms are afraid to invest in their younger staff, generally out of a misguided fear that they are training future competitors. This unwillingness to invest in junior staff has left some of the bigger agencies and production companies hollowed out and has contributed to a broader feeling that we work in an industry that feeds off its young. 

That’s not how I want to approach my team, I want them all to be tapped into the best version of themselves. I want to help them develop their own creative visions and acquire the skills and experience necessary to make those visions a reality. Some of this can be accomplished with basic studio 'best practices' - have a design library, send out weekly inspiration links - but the real work happens at the individual level. 

What makes Taylor James unique is our process and it is one that can inspire better work. We adhere to first principal design thinking: we identify a thesis that encapsulates the intention of the project and use that thesis to test and prove our solution. The creative process is notoriously murky, our thesis is the north star that guides us as we build solutions. Feedback becomes less arbitrary, which gives our artists deeper creative ownership and ultimately results in better, more thoughtful performances. 

This year I’ll be working harder to understand the artistic ambitions of the individuals that make up the creative team at Taylor James: what gets them excited and where they feel they can grow. Being mindful of how these people are growing will help inform the tools and resources we make available to them, it will drive the curation, special events and programmes we put on this year. Most importantly it will help me directly advise and mentor the people working here at an individual level.

The greatest studios of the last hundred years served as almost a collection of graduate schools. They were institutions that saw the development of young talent as part of their mission. They were hard places to get into, they were hard places to work and they helped hatch generation after generation of designers and artists. I want Taylor James to be that kind of place. The kind of place that leaves a strong impression on the young people that make their creative home here, something they carry forward through their careers. 

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Taylor James, 2 years ago