It’s a job title that has been popping up more and more of late and is now a key role at some of the world’s best creative agencies, but just what inspires creative technologists? DigitasLBi's Scott Ross tells us what makes him tick.
Creative technologists are responsible for all kinds of weird and wonderful inventions to fuse the best of creativity and technology, so The Drum caught up with a few of them to find out what's on their desk, what inspires them and what's getting them wired up for the year ahead.
What does each item on your desk mean and what role does it play in your average day?
My desk is basically a charging station for my electronics and a place to drop my jacket in the morning. Most days I’m not actually sitting here – I’m down on the floor with the teams. But to take you through the picture:
A desk phone. I don’t think I’ve ever actually used it.
Some papers. One of our teams is working on a 'top-secret’ robotics project at the moment and had been showing me some of their latest CAD visualisations.
A couple of smartphones and a laptop. Tools of the trade.
Coffee mug. Caffeination is the cornerstone of collaboration.
My notebook. Being able to sketch out an idea is critical to my job. I use paper for the really important tasks, because it slows you down and forces you to think about what you’re doing.
A wand. I’m often required to be a magician, so I figured I should keep one around.
Ross's magic wand
What are you inspired by outside of the office?
London! Although I'm no stranger to the city, having recently migrated from North America has made me view the city with fresh eyes. The layers of culture and history are deeper here than almost anywhere in the world. Inspiration is on every street corner in London if you take the time to stop and look.
Graffiti in an alleyway near the offices of DigitasLBi
Do you or does anyone else you work with have any rituals or cures for creative block?
Creativity is a state of being, not a process. When you're stuck you need to walk away from what you're doing. If you change things up you'll find yourself back in a groove in no time, but if you try and force yourself to be creative you'll stay stuck. Any escape will do as long as it doesn't involve a screen, but I particularly enjoy getting out of the office and going somewhere I haven't been before and good music.
What's the main challenge of operating at the intersection of creativity and technology?
I think the biggest challenge is the belief people have that there even is such a thing as the intersection of creativity and technology. All brands have become technology-driven, and organisational labels are becoming increasingly irrelevant. If you don't understand how technology allows you to solve problems for our clients in new and interesting ways, you should start looking for a new job.
What technology/creative developments have excited you the most in the last year and what fires you up about the year ahead?
Definitely the continued rise of IoT (internet of things). This last year has seen an epic flood of devices and technology (wearables, IP-connected gadgets of every flavour) along with affordable tools for makers (3D printers, CNC and laser cutters, inexpensive single-board computers, sensors of every kind imaginable). The cost of entry to our space combined with the popularity of crowdfunding channels such as Kickstarter made it easier than ever for an individual to bring a dream to reality.
Looking forward to next year, what really fires me up is being able to take all this gear and do something meaningful with it. Although last year was amazing, there are too many things working in isolation, and there is a long way to go before we can describe things as seamless.