On 16 February 2017, Frankie Luk, creative director at Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn Hong Kong (BBDO), a worldwide advertising agency network, came to Savannah College of Art & Design Hong Kong to give a talk on “A technique for producing ideas”.
Frankie Luk started his career as a Copywriter in 2000, since then he has worked in big international agencies like Grey, DDB, Saatchi & Saatchi and Publicis, as well as local boutique agencies. His clients vary from multi-billion entrepreneurs such as Mars, Mattel, McDonald’s, Unilever, Nestlé, Marriott, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and AXA, to local small businesses.
Frankie began by telling us that great ideas don’t just come just appear out of nowhere and that there is a process of coming up with an idea. He explained that
An idea is nothing more or less than a new combination of old elements
He then used an example of how shoes and christmas led lights combined to give us LED light up shoes.
He broke the creative process to five steps.
- Gathering Raw materials
- The first step is do research for your subject matter and get as much as knowledge and information on them. Your research should be
- Specific materials – Research on your subject matter
- General materials – Research on the topics that encompasses your subject matter
- Once you have done your research, it’s time to do some mindwork; sketches, brainstorming, ideation and so on. The capacity to bring old elements into new combinations depend largely on the ability to see relationships.
- This is not a simple a thing to do and is the part where it can get maddening as you come up with satisfying ideas. However, do not give up easily. Keep trying to see relationships between elements till you are completely stuck or have exhausted every creative juice you have or.
- Drop it and relax
- Though unconventional in the midst of a project, you have to drop whatever you been doing and stop thinking about your work.
- It’s time to give your brain a break and do something that stimulate your brain such as listening music, watching shows, reading a book, taking a walk, etc.
- In the midst of your break, out of nowhere, the idea will come to you. It sounds too good to be true but the concept is that we have to let our mind rest and our subconscious brain will do the backburner work of seeing relationships between elements to come up with new ideas
- Test the idea
Once you have an idea, test it out because it may not work. We all treat our ideas like our babies but that is not necessarily a good thing. Hopefully using this five-steps process, you come up with wonderful ideas.
He also emphasize writing down your ideas or thoughts. The act of using your hand to pen down words is far more rewarding than typing on the computer. It reinforce the storage of knowledge and information in your brain more efficiently.
I agree with Frankie this is one of the best way to generate ideas.
I later realised that most of talk draws reference from a book I read called “A technique for producing ideas “ by James Webb Young.
I highly recommend every aspiring artists to read this book to understand ideation. It is a short 15 minutes read and it enlightens you in the ideation process.
To add on, I think the best way to get good ideas is produce as many ideas as possible with no regards how good or bad they can be. You can never have too many ideas. This is something I learned from doing a SCAD Summer project with yu+Co for the Chinese onscreen Biennial 2016. The producer of the project guided my team and I from the conceptualisation to the execution.
One important thing he taught me was “you have to get all the bad ideas out first before the good one will come”. If we limit ourselves to think of only one idea, we would spend a lot of time ruminating that one “perfect idea “. Instead, come up with 10 ideas, and surely one of them would be an ingenious one.
Also, you may come to a point where you have done intense research and idea generation, yet nothing seems to work for your assignment. Then it’s it’s time to learn by doing. Sometimes the real magic lies in the execution. If we spend too much planning the nuances or perfecting our plan, we would never get anything done.
Alongside this book, I also recommend the book Art & Fear. Another essential book that every artists should read. In this book, it covers the problems we artist faced. Here some excerpts I enjoyed from the book.
“Fears about artmaking fall into two families: fears about yourself, and fears about your reception by others.In a general way, fears about yourself prevent you from doing your best work, while fears about your reception by others prevent you from doing your own work.”
“Talent, in common parlance, is “what comes easily”. So sooner or later, inevitably, you reach a point where the work doesn’t come easily, and-Aha!, it’s just as you feared! Wrong. By definition, whatever you have is exactly what you need to proauce your best work. There is probably no clearer waste of psychic energy than worrying about how much talent you have – and probably no worry more common. This is true even among artists of considerable accomplishment.”
About the Author
Desmond Du is Singaporean sophomore in Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) Hong Kong, majoring in Motion Media. He enjoys sharing knowledge with everyone and helping people to do their best in whatever work they are doing. He is also looking for content creators to collaborate with or share their content on nosleepcreative.com.