The spark? It’s a myth. Combustion being just one type of chemical reaction.
To think that you "have an idea" is romantic.
Folklore says "the idea" already exists. It’s up there waiting for you and, rather than have it, you pluck it. Jane Austen-level romantic.
It starts with nothing. Not knowing. How could you possibly know the answer yet? Let yourself off the hook. It’s a space waiting to be filled. Open. Keep it open, always.
Then it’s about fitness. Being ready, at speed, inexhaustible and hell-bent.
And then, reference. Broader, better. Weirder, better. Now everything – from any time, ever – is available immediately. It all can be used, cut and mixed. Words, pictures, cultures, technologies, Wikipedia articles, other people’s ideas, sciences, feelings,time and fantasies. Suck it all up. Coalescence is creativity.
Next, it’s about form. Create a baseline. A banker. Something you could sell if you had to. But only if you really had to. Just good enough. Solid enough to push off from. Like the earth against gravity and a jump.
Now, build. Without blueprint. And trust in time. However short. And be prepared for the idea to change, and change and change. Run with it. Run with others. Collaborate. All skills build together.
Like a tree growing. It will be an oak, but the shape of the trunk and the reach of the branches will reveal with time and water, sunlight and strategy.
Like Lego. Block by block. Different shapes and colours, one after the other: user, business need, cultural insight, positive impact. All added free form, master builder.
Like code. Packages working together. Modular. Different functions interfacing to form an intelligent, flexible network. Open-source idea libraries and interoperable elements.
Then sell. Manipulate and educate. Shaping, smart words and sizzle reels. The endless deck. Last-minute edit. FinalFinalFinal.doc.
Every rejection. Every failure. Every wrong turn. Two backwards for one forward. Budget cuts. It has been done already. Re brief. Not technically possible. Creative director curveball. Reality bites – and builds, builds, builds.
When you think you are done, it still builds. After launch, the afterlife. Iterate. Watch what happens next. Build again.
And even when you are not looking… it still bloody builds.
Someone else takes it. Remixes it, hacks it, trolls it.
It’s potentially endless, and exhausting. It’s not even yours any more… like it ever was.
We don’t have ideas any more. We build them.
Andy Sandoz is the joint executive creative director at Havas Creative Group and the president of D&AD. The D&AD Festival takes place during 20-22 April at The Old Truman Brewery.