I miss my creative partner, despite his moaning.
He’s a right messy git. He eats too many monkey nuts. And, my God, he loves a bit of moan. But you know what, it’s been about eight weeks since I last saw my "work wife" Simon (in real life) and I miss him.
After 14 years working together, it’s hardly surprising that Si and I know each other pretty well. But what has been surprising to us both is the discovery that actually a lot of what makes our creative partnership tick is unspoken and silent.
Sure, we can chat on the phone about work, briefs, new business and West Ham. We can even see each other’s faces on the god-knows-how-many video-conference apps available. But, if we’re honest, we can’t really see each other.
I can’t see the face he’s making that tells me to shut up in a client meeting. Or the excited energy he gives off when he sees something he likes. I can’t hear the flippant comment meant as joke that’s actually brilliant. I can’t see his tut and shake of the head as he disagrees with a brief. Or his slight nod of the head that says: "Fuck it, let’s go for a pint." I can’t pick up on his annoying "I’m not sure about this" body language. And I can’t see his reaction to my off-the-cuff comment, because who the hell rings someone up to tell them an off-the-cuff comment?
In short, our creative peripheral vision has gone. We’re missing the bits outside the "official" planned and considered Zoom chats and Microsoft Teams catch-ups. The bits that sometimes make the magic happen. The bits that make us tick as a team. And, if we’re honest, the bits that make this industry so great to be in. It is, after all, a people industry – one that thrives off the spontaneous energy of the people in it and one that is fuelled by conversations, silly looks and off-the-cuff comments.
We know this isn’t for long. And, believe us, we’ll enjoy the extra time with our actual wives and kids while we can. But one thing is for sure: when all this is over, we’ll enjoy the silence of being in an actual, and not virtual, creative partnership again. Apart from when Si’s moaning, obviously.
Ben Stump is a creative director at Isobel alongside Simon Findlater