Everyone’s a creative now

Partner at THINGY Creative Consultancy, Dave Dye, with a few thoughts on creative people and creativity

‘Technically, I’m a designer, but I’m great at loads of other stuff too.’

‘Wow! Really?’ I asked in disbelief.

Writing, art directing, retouching, animation, designing, name it.’

He’s gonna be useless, I thought.

But I wasn’t going to be there long, I was overseeing a pitch for a friend, so I bollocked myself into keeping an open mind — Don’t be so bloody quick to judge!

Turned out he was useless.

Why would anyone set themselves up like that?

Creating good advertising and design used to be considered hard to do. Really hard.

And probably required a bit of luck too.

Telling people you’re great just exposes that you don’t understand the meaning of the word, doesn’t it?

Simply being able to do something doesn’t make you an expert.

I’ve put up shelves but I wouldn’t describe myself as a carpenter.

Maybe it’s a generational thing?

After all, in a period when collaboration is considered so desirable, it’s only natural that anyone who collaborates must be made to feel their contribution, whoever they are, is valuable.

It’s why you hear people say things like ‘everyone is creative’ or agencies declare ‘Creative isn’t a department, it’s everyone in the building.’

Some agencies even refuse to credit the creatives who created the work, replacing their names with the agency name — because everyone deserves equal credit.

I like that sound of that — it sounds very cool, inclusive, egalitarian even.

But, in my experience, and I’ve worked in about a dozen agencies, both good and bad, it’s not true.

99.9% of creative ideas come from creatives.

Not because they’re desperate to keep people out, if anything, when you first get a brief you’re desperate for an idea — you don’t care where it comes from.

And a great idea could come from anyone.

But not on demand.

It’s like saying anyone could score a goal — it’s only kicking a ball in a net. Possibly, but not on demand.

If you want a guarantee of a goal, or an idea, go the people who get paid to do it.

Doing week after week means improving week after week.

They’ve been learning from their mistakes. (And successes.)

Learning from their colleagues.

Hoovering up advice from their colleagues and bosses.

Picking up tips and hacks as they go.

Creatives, like carpenters or footballers, get better the more they do it.

It’s no mystery.

They bin good ideas that just won’t work in a 30-second ad spot.

Funny headlines that are too long to read by a passing car.

They reject cool images that can’t be done on the budget.

Ad agencies offer a number of things to clients, thing one is ads.

The bit where they talk to the public on the client’s behalf.

In the hope that money changes hands.

Promoting this idea that anyone can do it makes no sense — how do agencies then charge a premium for what they offer?

As they say the City; ‘What’s scarce is valuable’.

Featured image: artwork by Dave Dye

Dave Dye, Partner at THINGY Creative Consultancy

Dave has won golds and silvers at all the major international awards schemes, including Cannes, The One Show and Eurobest. He has won over 200 pencils at D&AD as a creative and over 150 as a creative director. He runs a blog & podcast about creativity; 'Stuff From The Loft', which attracts over 40,000 viewers a month. He writes for Lurzers Archive, Campaign and Shots amongst others, sometimes, weirdly, he refers to himself in the third person.

All articles