10 ways creative types get inspiration - a client's view

Image: Photolibrary.com

Rob Chandler of Reasons To Be Creative shares his thoughts about how creatives get their inspiration, based on his experience as a client. 

I’m not creative, far from it, actually I was the nemesis of most creative teams. Well, for at least for the early parts of my marketing career I was a “creative [insert ‘twatty’] client” (still put parenthesis around words – old dog and all that).
You know the type of client, the one with free-thinking ideas, “let’s brainstorm together?”, “I know, we need a blimp” or the worse kind “how about you move it up a bit?”.

I got over the last one pretty quick, with all my fingers unbroken but a ballooned budget and crap compromise no-one was happy with. You can only rub lemon juice in to a designer’s creative paper cut before they metaphorically punch you in the face. Tough lesson learned.

So quickly realising that I can’t design and best leave all that cool stuff to the people who can. Along the way I did get good at empathising with both sides of the client/agency void. Helping steer teams through the process and so I like to think I vaguely understand the broad term “creative” from an external point of view at least.

Anyway, “where is this all going you wittering client type?” Well, I thought I’d put together a few thoughts on how I see creatives get their inspiration.

On the Clapham Omnibus

Just being around people. What they wear, what they do, what they see. Not just the ones who stand out, but the mundane seems to inspire just as much.


In creative terms, imitation is sooo not the best form of flattery, but there’s no point in reinventing the wheel for the sake of it if someone’s been and seen it. There is a theory that everything is plagiarised, what do I know, but having a look never hurts?


The most powerful, and I guess similar to the previous one, brain saturating kinda way - Binge inspiration maybe? Getting to pick and choose, be exposed to stuff you wouldn’t normally consider or think about will provide a store of creative thoughts and idea for an age. Annual off-site for creatives possibly?

From clients

Really? Well, I’ve seen first-hand how in the right hands, a client instilling such belief that teams fight to be on the account. They aren’t all about moving logos up a bit.

From old/other clients

Not quite the same as the above – but all clients are a mixed bag, some inspire, and some seem to lack interest or understanding. “How would [insert perfect clients name here] talk about this?”

That there internet

Obvious, surely? But is enough time in the day taken to just having a look around and see what’s going on?

Diversion tactics

My personal preference - looking out of the window, exercising, dreaming…  I can look out of the window all day, have the school reports to prove it, just thinking and allowing my synapses consider, play with and develop stuff – don’t fret, I just problem solve.


Ahhh, I get the feeling this is the default position for the majority. Nothing like an impending deadline to pump the adrenalin around the brain. No surprize but clients know this which is why they hand out ridiculously short ones, or just take two weeks off the final delivery date to ensure delivery. Not the right approach, but then neither is needing a deadline to get motivated I guess.

Asking the advice of a dog

The trouble with asking for advice from humans is that they tend to give it, which can add to the neurosis of creative insecurity. While all along, really all humans need is the confidence to be in the right direction. Dogs are very good at giving unbiased feedback.

Shredding it

The disaster where all the hard work over the previous two weeks has been lost, has always born even better work than the original – shame that Mac, and back-up and that cloud means this is a dying option – and just sticking it through a shredder takes v large kahunas.

Rob Chandler is the Commercial Chap at Reasons To Be Creative, founder of Colour Nine, trainee comedian, inventor of “suidetarianism” and wriggly 8 year old in a 40 something’s body.

Reasons To Be Creative runs from September 2-4 at the Dome in Brighton. Tickets can be purchased here. The Digital Arts team will be in attendance, so come say hi.

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