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Rei Inamoto talks what it takes to be a great creative

The Drum recently caught up with Rei Inamoto, founding partner at business invention studio Inamoto & Co, to discuss what he thinks it takes to be a great creative. Inamoto started the shop last year with Rem Reynolds after the two left AKQA.

To be a great creative, Inamoto said he follows three key mantras: “there’s a way, always”; “quality is a habit”; and “when in doubt, subtract.”

The first – “there’s a way, always” – is rooted in the idea that creatives should never compromise even when the going gets tough.

“If you think hard enough, if you are tenacious, if you have conviction, there’s a way, always,” he said.

When discussing the second mantra, “quality is a habit,” Inamoto noted that great creatives do not compromise on the quality of their work and often make it a habit to continually meet a certain standard. By doing this, Inamoto said that “the work not only becomes consistent but it becomes better.”

With the phrase “make it simple” being ubiquitous in the industry, Inamoto said it’s not always easy to figure out exactly how to make something simpler – and that’s where his idea “when in doubt, subtract” comes from. He said that when he’s not sure about a piece of work, instead of adding to it or mixing things up, sometimes it is best to do less.

“When I’m not sure about the idea itself or the execution itself, the temptation to add more to whatever you’re doing creeps up and you have to resist that temptation,” he said. “You have to force yourself to subtract, especially when you have a doubt in your mind.”

Before founding New York-based Inamoto & Co, Inamoto served as global chief creative officer at AKQA. At Inamoto & Co, he and his team will focus on providing design, data and technology solutions for clients.

Inamoto has received many awards for his work in the industry and was once named one of the "Top 25 Most Creative People in Advertising” by Forbes Magazine.

His full interview with The Drum can be viewed above. See what Ronald Ng, DigitasLBi’s North American chief creative officer, said when we asked him what it takes to be a great creative.