Creatives needs to stop relying on a gateway drug called 'instant'

By Wayne Deakin, Global principal of creative

July 6, 2018 | 6 min read

Something dark is creeping into our industry.

gateway instant

'Instant' is escalating a false economy of instantaneous answers and solutions, while failing to deliver for clients.

It seems harmless at first, but after repeated use it leads to something much more worrying.

Worse still it's not something silently sold in dark alleys. It's being pushed in broad daylight in schools, colleges and agencies up and down the country. It’s even starting to be sold in some boardrooms by certain dodgy types.

It’s an addictive hallucinate called ‘instant’ and it's escalating a false economy of instantaneous answers and solutions, while failing to deliver for clients.

As the access to tech has sped up dramatically, so has access to more ways to create stuff.

New tools have made it much easier to bring things to life and make them instantly shinier. Now, suddenly everyone can make things shiny. Suddenly everyone has become a designer, a coder, a filmmaker, an editor, a maker or a creative.

In an instant, anyone can become a craftsperson and a master. Or so they think.

Tech isn't to blame here; it's not the bad evil dude. After all, a poor craftsperson blames their tools. There’s ultimately no difference between Invision, Photoshop and a pencil or a marker pad. They're just tools that should be embraced and celebrated.

I am not having a go at tech here by any means – I'm a digital guy after all and in the right hands, these tools can be wonderful and create brilliant disruptive things. Instead I'm having a go at this rising culture of the quick fix of instant creativity.

It’s the knock-on effects that do disservice to the hard graft of ideas and craft it takes to solve problems. There’s a growing and unhealthy behaviour of thinking immediate-style beats context; that a jumping on your first idea or letting paper-thin surface level tactics be your idea. It’s a worrying vibe.

Those who push this rush of making things shiny without looking up or pausing to think about the real business problem are living in a world of false economy. They're addicted to the shininess.

Unfortunately this rise of the fake veneer is at the expense of the hard work it takes to find the real way to solve a business problem with creativity.

It's only devaluing our industry as professionals. Pushing this hallucinate onto clients is bad for our clients, bad for our professional standings and worse for the next generation of talent who follow us.

Suddenly more and more young people’s work I am seeing is obsessed with making stuff look pretty at the expense of real insights, thinking and thoughtful craft.

Thankfully I had the opportunity to judge on the D&AD New Blood Awards recently and it showed me some young folk out there get that shininess isn’t the answer and ideas are still the thing that make the difference – so that was a brief moment of joy.

However, it seems more and more of the next generation of talent and even some experienced people (who know better) are still fixated on this ‘instant’ drug and pushing it onto clients.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about speed. There’s a difference between speed and instant. You still can be fast and good. Experience teaches you how to do this.

It’s the approach and the graft of going with your first idea or jumping on a Mac to let the tools come up with an idea that I have a problem with here. One, because it is fucking lazy and two, because in the end it doesn’t deliver real value for our clients.

Instead get up and away from your computer and desk before you jump into action. Go for a walk and think please. Or draw out 50 boxes and fill each one quickly with an idea. Put shit up on a wall and then come back in an hour and check it out. Start a workbook full of possible ways in and let it cook overnight like a good roast.

Get out and visit the client’s factory, shop or buy the product and talk to people before you dive in. If you need more knowledge, insight or time then fight for it and stand up for your approach. Just avoid the ‘instant’ and instead dig into the problem and wrestle with your thinking or craft.

Being slow isn’t the answer, and it's unrealistic for today’s climate, but there’s a balancing act to perfect. We need to stop pushing the drug of instant answers and ensure that as professionals we give more of a shit, work harder, be more honest and upfront with our clients, and not try and sell them an immediate solution just to cash in; because in the end it doesn’t help their business or ours.

We have a responsibility to the next generation of talent and our current people to look after and we need to keep a check on this gateway drug.

Let’s do our industry a favour. Let’s blend and embrace the tools of the future with the best practice of the past.

That’s a happier and better trip for all. Don’t you think?

Wayne Deakin is executive creative director at Huge London, he tweets at @deakin_ahoy


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