Creativity isn’t something you can crank out from an office cubicle in Bracknell: it needs to be nurtured, stimulated and set alight by errant sparks. Studio bosses know this, of course, which is why they so often resemble hip kindergartens, scattered with posters, designer toys and things to fiddle with while waiting for the muse to appear.
But it takes more than a quirky environment to make the voodoo happen: there’s a more subtle alchemy that encompasses the work a studio chooses, how it’s carried out and, most importantly, the people, both at work and at play.
Digital Arts met five agencies from around the country, from the boutique to the multinational, who are rising above the daily grind to create superb work. Here’s how they keep those light bulb moments coming day after day.
Manchester-based studio Love Creative is a small studio, but it scored a Yellow Pencil for its illustrated whisky bottles, created for Johnny Walker 1910 Edition.
It’s proof that such a studio can punch well above its weight: Love Creative’s small team works on everything from events in China for Nike to developing global branding guidelines for One Direction. “There are 10 creatives and we get tasked with strategy right through to final delivery: you’ve got to have quite a few strings to your bow,” explains senior designer Rory Sutherland. “There are 365 days in a year and they’re all different.”
With several big international projects in production, the mood is hectic but upbeat, with creatives hurtling around the world, and an ever-expanding range of architects, interior designers, photographers and other collaborators. Brainstorming sessions are robust, lively and include as many of the creatives as possible – and a real stinker of an idea is announced with a ding of a hotelier’s bell. But the bell doesn’t come into action too often. “It’s a small team, but you can rely on everyone in here for good ideas – and good fun,” enthuses Rory.
It’s a daunting environment for a new designer, but not without opportunities. “I’ve worked on projects that I would never normally at this age have the chance to work on,” says Alex Hill, who graduated last year. “It’s a big learning curve, but an enjoyable one.”
“Having younger creatives in is as good for the rest of us as it is for them,” argues Rory. “Some of the older guys are from traditional art direction backgrounds, and the younger generation brings real freshness – today Alex has been showing me a lot about 3D design.”
Every month, the studio holds Love Show, a session highlighting work in progress, or what’s currently inspiring the team. “It helps us all keep track of what’s going on,” explains Alex, and ensures that those working in accounts are as clued-up about the projects as the creative team.
There’s no set style for a Love project, says Rory: each is different. “The one thing we try to do here is tell a story that goes to the heart of the brand.”