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How I find creative inspiration when the heat is on

It's hard to turn creativity on like a tap but that doesn't help when you're faced with a client brief and a deadline. Here are one leading creative's methods of sparking inspiration on Pinterest...

"As long as you’re in a relaxed state, new ideas are able to form," says Jade Tomlin, creative director at Tribal DDB (pictured). She describes how keeping calm and drawing on past ideas and experience, as well as spotting trends and innovations, is the key to finding inspiration – particularly when you're under pressure.

None of this happens by accident. You need the tools, you need to work out what you like and dislike, you need to find your voice. Tomlin reveals her creative secret weapons and strategies, from dog walking to pen-and-paper via a degree of self-imposed discipline…

I treat every brief first round as a chance to come up with something afresh. It does depend on how big the job is. If it's a huge project and there's more than two weeks for conceptual development, art galleries and exhibits are involved. I visit my favourite artworks between work, mainly to relax into a creative headspace. If it's a short amount of time, the internet is the greatest resource and although it can be a complete minefield, I have a handful of tools and platforms I go to.

I have a full tank of creative energy in the morning, so mornings are best for research – and late afternoon I enjoy writing scripts, scamping or mocking designs for presentations, a process of pulling everything together from the day.

The creative directors always encourage the teams to continue to start with pen and paper. Despite being at an extremely modern agency, we don’t go straight into a deck, particularly for long ideas.

My strongest ideas build as the seed that gets crafted in its execution. I worked on a project for Volkswagen and the idea's strength came from a simple solution for showing off Volkswagen's heritage – with fresh, new, exciting art direction and a style that would resonate with a new younger audience for the brand. The idea was Volkswagen Collectables, a series of illustrations of the most iconic cars over the decades

I use tools that are familiar when the heat of a new brief is on. This could be anything from walking the dog to picking up a D&AD Annual or my Bullet Journals from the bookcase – to pinning online via Pinterest.

I was given a School of Life 15-minute timer by at Tribal DDB designer to make sure I don't end up down a rabbit hole of endless searching.

A lot of creativity is about your ability to communicate ideas, this is one of my core strengths, through a mood board and short write up I can communicate an idea very quickly. And Pinterest has been a part of that, providing the right pin for the right moment. Pinterest is the modern art director's moodboard but with double the inspiration at triple the speed. I have a community of creative directors on Pinterest, people I've worked with and admire from across the globe. It's a great way to nurture your creativity and keep up with the best in the business.

I enjoy seeing trends pop up on the platform from new wave type to new photographers to illustration. This helps me push the teams and projects even with UX and UI design improvements. Every corner of brand experience as well as the comms needs a strong level of quality control, particularly in these unusual times, being consistent is important.

Having boards you can look back on is important in nurturing your own creative voice. Spending time pinning has always been a joy and felt like an investment to my creative future. 

My guilty pleasure: I have one board called 'Touring' (pictured right) but it's purely a fantasy set of photography of places I'll probably never visit. I pin there when I want a bit of escapism. If anything it's a sense of travelling but just within the mind. This was a grown-up version of my 'Outdoors' board which I started earlier in my career which again just has unusual situations, sights of a traveller. 

I use Pinterest for personal boards, for classic moments in life like planning the look and feel of a loft conversion to painting a style for my wedding jacket a few years ago. 

Many creative directors will draw on past experience instinctively to get the job done. As long as you're in a relaxed state new ideas are able to form, it's rare that any client brief or deadline is a real issue.

Although at the moment it doesn't feel like it, the winter months will soon be here again. Pinterest is a great way to collect inspiration for any type of holiday setting but especially Christmas. Whether you're looking for a romantic lead up to the holiday season or a sense of fun with homemade decorations for a family filled with kids, Pinterest has such a broad variety of pins to choose from. My advice would be to start early, enjoy the process and let your imagination run free when pinning. I would often have 10-12 like-minded pins per board and then 5 wild card ones to add an adventurous feel to any project - personal or professional. Happy pinning.

Jade is currently pinning travel ideas, and while trends data from Pinterest shows other Pinners are doing this too, people are also searching for and saving Christmas ideas earlier than they ever have. To get ahead in your campaign planning and make inspired decisions, download the Holiday Planning 2020 Guide which includes the latest insights and recommendations.


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