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By Minda Smiley | Reporter

May 9, 2016 | 3 min read

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.

Advertising Rei Inamoto Inamoto & Co

Other episodes in the series

Episode 1

‘It’s about asking a lot of questions’: Deutsch’s Winston Binch on what it takes to be a great creative

The Drum recently caught up with Winston Binch, Deutsch North America’s chief digital officer, to find out what he thinks it takes to be a great creative.

Episode 2

‘Be a producer’: RPA’s Sarah Bates on what it takes to be a great creative

To Sarah Bates, creative director at RPA in Los Angeles, being weird is perfectly fine. In fact, it’s pretty normal and desirable — especially those “non sequitur adventures” that make a person interesting in a creative field.

Episode 3

‘Distill the brief’: The Mill’s Phil Crowe on what it takes to be a great creative

Are there bad briefs? That’s likely up for all kinds of debate but, to Phil Crowe, ECD of The Mill in Los Angeles, it’s less about the brief and more about the interpretation of the brief.

Episode 4

Saturday Morning leaders on being a great creative

It’s not difficult to be inspired by Saturday Morning, the movement for peace founded after a spate of police shootings against African-Americans including Philando Castile, Alton Sterling and others.

Episode 5

Lola MullenLowe Madrid's Pancho Cassis on what it takes to be a great creative: 'It's not about ideas anymore'

The Drum caught up with Pancho Cassis, executive creative director and copywriter at Lola MullenLowe Madrid, to find out what he thinks it takes to be a great creative.

Episode 6

Colle+McVoy’s Laura Fegley: 'Being a great creative is all about endurance'

Laura Fegley, ECD at Colle+McVoy in Minneapolis, treads a path of undeniable success.

Episode 7

‘Mind numbing patience’: Kirk Kelley, HouseSpecial CCO on what makes a great creative

Browsing through the work of Portland’s HouseSpecial can become a walk through a creative candy shop — starting with (pun kind of intended) iconic creativity for M&M's, including the well-received Candyman spot featuring Aloe Blacc and Zedd.

Episode 8

"Great creatives need a partner": OKRP leaders on becoming a great creative

What Does It Take To Be A Great Creative? is a video series that highlights the thinking of global creative leaders on specifics actions that can build a successful creative career in the industry. See what other creative leaders had to say in past episodes.

Episode 9

'Stick with your gut': Pereira & O'Dell's PJ Pereira on being a great creative

What Does It Take To Be A Great Creative? is a video series that highlights the thinking of global creative leaders on specifics actions that can build a successful creative career in the industry. See what other creative leaders had to say in past episodes.

Episode 10

Hunger, passion, curiosity: MullenLowe Singapore’s Shengjin Ang on being a great creative

What Does It Take To Be A Great Creative? is a video series that highlights the thinking of global creative leaders on specifics actions that can build a successful creative career in the industry. See what other creative leaders had to say in past episodes.

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