Great inspirations

By The Drum | Administrator

May 21, 2009 | 13 min read

Geoff Foots, creative director, Guerilla

What inspired me today? The same thing that has inspired me every day since we moved to our new office a month ago, the view from our window of St James’ Park, home of the mighty Newcastle United.

A cathedral of football, fortress St James’ represents for me and thousands like me, the victory of faith, passion, enthusiasm and blind optimism over the rational, hard facts and the much overrated tendency to accept reality and your (sometimes obvious) limitations even when they’re staring you point blank in the face. Never say die, never give up and never stop believing… if we can stay up this season, in the words of our kit sponsors, impossible is nothing!

Martin Donnelly, senior design, Clusta

James Jean. This man never ceases to amaze me, he is an absolute visual genius. The 30 year Taiwanese born, now turned Angeleno has a sublime body of work. His drawing and paintings come from the darkest and most beautiful recesses of the mind creating multicoloured labyrinths of fantasy and wonder.

The complexity of the work will keep you transfixed for hours as you journey though his imagination. One of his pieces of work ‘Crayoneater’ illustrates to me exactly what I imagine his thought process to be like; a mass of coloured swirls and scribbles exploding with child like energy. His blog also gives you a detailed insight into the working process that he goes through, from pencil and paper, to paint and digital, an insight that most artists of his stature tend to shy away from.

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Recently we’ve been looking into 3D visuals on a digital platform and this morning we received our 3D glasses in the post, so trawling through pages and pages of bog standard imagery whilst looking like something 80’s sci-fi movie, we found this, Barcinski & Jeanjean, an established interactive studio from Amsterdam.

Their work ranges from award-winning websites to physical space installations. The site itself is inspiring and engaging, from the slick use of the 3D visuals, to the smooth use of Papervison illustrating their portfolio. It really has given us a lot more confidence in seeing this technique as a viable visual tool for the web.

Kirstie Buchanan, creative director, Reading Room

So many things inspire me for different reasons, and it can often be down to what sort of mood I’m in as to how it works for me and what I do with it. If I’m in pitch mode (which I currently am) aspects of photography and typography can inspire me. I’m in a fortunate position that one of our new clients Groundwork are as passionate about both as the team is here. Photography has always been a major part of my life, in fact I’m running out of walls at home for my collection and certain shots are finding their way into the office. It may sound a little corny but they can often act as my window/soul to the world. Our creative team here are equally as obsessive and are often found around Manchester taking shots – Polaroids are a new favourite. My husband running the Manchester 10k on Sunday was definately a source of inspiration, he has hit 40 and become a health freak, he’s off cycling to Blackpool next for charity, where as I can’t even find my trainers.

Alex Frech, creative director, Black and Ginger

“I haven’t really been in the studio today but one thing which has influenced me recently is the conceptual work by artist Felice Varini. Black and Ginger has been working on its own brand strategy of late and have taken great influence from 1960’s shapes, symmetry and their association with culture and the fashion movement of the time.

Through our research we came across an amazing artist, Felice Varini, who combines the use of geometric shapes and forced perspective through artistic outdoor installations.

We try to use some of these influences within our own branding and for a client we have started to work with.”

Warren Bramley, creative director, Four23

Two animations have made me think today, for different reasons. Firstly, ‘Zoo of the Dead’ is a seven minute wonder of a Zombie movie. And it’s even more inspiring when you learn that Whiskytonsils (if that’s his name) wrote, filmed, directed, edited the whole thing in six days. And it’s made out of cardboard. Funny what you can do if you put your creative mind to it: Secondly, the ‘Crisis of Credit’ is a short animation, as part of a thesis, by Jonathan Jarvis. ‘The goal of giving form to a complex situation like the credit crisis is to quickly supply the essence of the situation to those unfamiliar and uninitiated’. Irrespective of hours of news coverage, newspaper reporting and a subscription to the Economist, it’s the most informative piece of communication I’ve experienced on the subject. Now I know:

Dylan Bogg, executive creative director, Big Communications

As I sat and pondered what it would be that would inspire me today I tried to resist the temptation to write about my kids in an awful middle-aged outbreak of sentimentality. Then I’m afraid Frankie, my eight year old daughter, got the better of me.

She bounced out of bed and headed straight for a recently-acquired pink electric guitar and launched into the opening lines of White Stripes Seven Nation Army without so much as a good morning. Frankly, it wouldn’t have mattered if it was a sleaze-stained member of parliament sat there in his pj’s it would still have given me a lift. Why? Simple. It’s all about passion.Whenever someone shows a heartfelt passion and enthusiasm for something – anything – it’s inspiring.

As I drove to work I contemplated this thought. What else inspires in this way? As I searched for an answer the unmistakeable twang of Tony Benn flowed over the airwaves. Now, there’s a Marmite character if ever there was one. Love him or hate him, agree or disagree with his view, he’s a guy that talks from the heart. Often against his own party. Often against public opinion. And, often against the path that will give him most material gain. That’s inspirational. An 84 year old MP and a pink electric guitar. Now, there’s got to be an ad in that…

Warren Gaskell, creative director, Gyro HSR

Guess what I saw when I looked out my bathroom window this morning? Yep, rain. You’d think that being born and bred in Manchester would make you immune to it. I wish. I hate it. However, today for the first time it inspired me. I realised that if you’re strong enough to get through this shit storm affecting our industry at the moment, then you’re likely to be in a much better position once the clouds have cleared and the sun eventually pokes through. And one thing’s for sure, just like the weather, it ‘will’ change eventually. So after I fought my way around a drenched M60 and finally got into the office today I tried a bit harder. I worked a bit longer and I thought a bit smarter. And you know what, I actually feel a bit better for it. Thanks Manchester.

Ward Mulvey, managing director, BOB

They once said cooking is the new rock ‘n’ roll and for several years this remained the case with one celebrity chef being served up after another and another ad nauseum. Therefore, how inspiring to witness the birth of a new counter culture – the underground restaurant. Basically, in return for a nominal charge (say a mere tenner), you go to a stranger’s house and they cook dinner for you while you sit at your very own table – all for the love of it, all for the added spice of cocking two fingers at the local council (no trading licence you see) and the marketing hype that surrounds so many a pretentious restaurant. Take an everyday situation (part meal out, part dinner party), give it a pinch of underground spice (Facebook actually) and hey presto, the conventional barriers of society are removed. Love it.

Martin Cross, creative director, GRP

Funnily enough I was asked the same question a couple of weeks ago and went for Mad Men, the beautifully-crafted TV series set in and around a fictional New York ad agency in the early sixties.

The show has now finished its second series on BBC4 – so if you didn’t see it, I suggest you arm yourself with the boxed set, a bottle of bourbon and a pack of Luckies. Then try to smoke and drink along with the characters, and see how long you keep up. From the magnificent Saul Bass-style credits to the exquisite care that’s gone into the choice of costume and props, it’s amongst the most stylish TV ever made.

And although it’s really more about the changing social mores of the early sixties than it is about advertising, there was a classic suit-versus-creative showdown in the last episode that should be required viewing for every trainee in the business.

Ben Quigley, managing director, Different

There was a piece on Sky Sports News on Saturday about a 100 year old lady golfer (above) who still plays down south somewhere – it was amazing. She plays several times a week – uses a buggy between shots but stands up and still knows how to sink a putt with awesome accuracy! Now that’s inspiring.

Adrian Carroll, creative director, D8

I’d love to tell you I’ve been inspired by some Alain De Botton programme I saw on BBC 4 or that I’d just watched Jean De Florette for the umpteenth time as it would make me sound vastly more interesting than I actually am. But it wouldn’t be true and I’d get the p*ss ripped right out of me in here. So what’s inspired me? Well, the past couple of days the weather has been great. I was in Edinburgh on Tuesday on a reccy for a photoshoot and the sun just makes me feel a bit cheerier.

Last night, when I turned the apprentice off, I picked up a book I’ve been reading about Paul Rand. It’s an interview with him rather than just lots of pictures of his work so you get some insight into the way he thought. I’d thoroughly recommend it.

James Stiff, Stiff Rowlands

Music is a constant source of creative inspiration but the business behind the music we enjoy can often appear to be so far removed that it’s hard to understand how the two are connected.

There are exceptions to every rule though and any business that takes its name from the industry term for a dead duck, has to be worth a second look. I’ve always been intrigued by the story of Stiff Records, partly due to the name that we share but more importantly because of their seemingly uncompromising lack of respect for conventions and their stubborn independence.

Their artist roster and marketing were so gleefully haphazard and anti corporate that they really could only have got away with it in the late seventies and early eighties before the label imploded and went on a 20 year hiatus in 1986.

The legendary Barney Bubbles was responsible for much of Stiff Records’ early graphics and his eclectic style helped to create some of their most iconic sleeve artwork. A personal favourite has to be the Crown wallpaper sleeve for Ian Dury & The Blockheads’ 1979 album “Do It Yourself”, which came in 28 different patterns!

Chris Quigley, Rubber Republic

One of the greatest compliments a YouTuber can give a viral is a “WTF” (pronounced wuttuff and short for What The F*ck). I spend an unusually large amount of time searching YouTube for the latest and greatest wuttuff for inspiration for our next viral campaign creative. When judging viral creative, I now don’t so much rely on my own reaction but defer to the wisdom of the crowds. If a viral is getting a lot of wuttuff’s and LOL’s I know its a success.

Dave Mullen, creative director, Story

How does it go? The Bruce was sitting on his lonesome in a cave inspired by a wee determined spider’s struggle to build a web. Fast forward 700 years and I find myself sitting in my own cave of sorts staring at the wweb. Whilst the internet can be a web of deceit sometimes – I’m thinking of Youtube content mercilessly ripped off and badged by Brand X – the web is also an incredible source of creative inspiration.

You can find some brilliant people doing great things and often anonymously. I find a daily inspiration for its shear slice-of-life ordinariness. Forget Twitter, I’m a Blipper. It’s a surprisingly addictive daily journal where people are allowed to upload just one single image from that same day and share it with the rest of the world.

Last Saturday, I was up with the lark and logged on to it via my mobile and the image that appeared through the cracked iphone screen (isn’t everyone’s?) was a Tree Woman posted by ‘Barking” of Christchurch, NZ. Moments earlier, on the other side of the world, she had been taking an evening stroll in the woods and came across a group of people on stilts dressed as trees just wandering about. The ordinary can be extraordinary sometimes.


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