Feature

My Creative Inspiration

Where do you start? There's a world of inspiration out there. Quite literally. As that great copywriter Confucius once said: everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it. Inspiration, you might say, is in the eye of the beholder.

1. Let's start with the biggy. If we need one clear demonstration of the truth "we don't know how much we don't know", the Interweb is it. Its potential is infinite. And rather scary.

2. Once when I worked for Dave Trott, I told him what a great teacher he was. "I'm not a teacher," the polymath replied. "If you learn stuff from me, great. But that's up to you." I did.

3. Frank Gehry's deconstructive "functional sculptures" defy all architectural conventions. Both the Guggenheim Bilbao and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA outshine anything put inside them.

4. How the writers of The Simpsons continually manage to think up such multi-layered, insightful and iconoclastic brilliance always amazes me. I've yet to see a bad episode. And I've seen plenty.

5. Nike ID still has to be the ultimate digital utility (well, for those of us with a somewhat debilitating trainer habit, anyway), handing the power to design their shoes to their own fans.

6. Albert Einstein was a dab hand at solving problems through creativity. (He was also not bad at aphorisms: http://www.great-inspirational-quotes.com/albert-einstein- quotes.html.)

7. The Albert Einstein of the ad industry, Paul Arden spent his life experimenting. There was always another way to look at something, no matter how counterintuitive it seemed.

8. The Paul Arden of the catering business, Heston Blumenthal's culinary creations border on the insane. When you eat his food, you're eating the rather disturbing contents of his mind.

9. The Heston Blumenthal of the fashion world, designer Rei Kawakubo is an obsessive fine artist whose canvas is often, well, canvas. You don't wear her clothes, you wear her ideas.

10. While other Victorian architects sought inspiration from Roman and Medieval buildings, Antoni Gaudi looked to plants. How mad must Barcelona have thought him back then?

11. Karate is about discipline, stamina, pushing beyond the limits of what is believed to be possible, and punching people. Most of which come in rather handy in the ad business.

12. Bill and Helmut broke the mould with ads for a car that did the same. When I studied copywriting at college, the pair of them taught me more than all the lecturers put together.

13. If Charley Brooker didn't loathe marketing people so much, he'd make an excellent copywriter. He mixes hilarious observation and down-to-earth intellectualism with lashings of vitriol.

14. Elliott Erwitt's life lived with his camera firmly glued to his eye demonstrates that the hilarious and odd can be found anywhere and the harder you look the more you find.

15. Since I was ten years old, I've loved Woody Allen's penchant for undermining the pretentiously intellectual via the ludicrously silly. His relentless energy also never ceases to amaze.

16. For the past 15 years, Crispin Porter & Bogusky has been doing the kind of stuff that the rest of us will be trying to get out for the next 15 years. They're bloody brilliant. I hate them.

17. Back in 1947, Irving Penn changed the world of still life photography forever when he shoved some salad ingredients on a table and took a picture of them. Confucius with a camera.

18. Designer, art director, copywriter, mischief-maker. Forty years on, George Lois still has the passion, energy and clarity of thought that made him the ultimate Mad Man.

19. "Think different" remains at the core (sorree) of everything Apple does, creating beautiful, utilitarian objects that re-define our lives. Whenever you think "well they can't top that", they do.

20. At the same age I discovered Woody Allen, I discovered Monty Python. Their surreal genius has been the inspiration for a million comedy shows since. And more than one TV campaign.

Topics