Page 35 - Sharp September 2021
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What is it about the concept of creativity that first interested you?
I work as a creative director at a television station. I’m responsible for finding ways for advertise- ments to be incorporated into our programs. I always work within the boundaries of a brief — I get my briefing from the advertisers and I think about, “Okay, here is Mr. Coca-Cola, how can I make his summer campaign successful?” My work involves a kind of creative compromise, but the question I have — and which was the genesis of the book — is: What if nobody tells you what to do?
When did you begin asking others about it?
I did a lot of talks about creativity at marketing conferences. I was meeting with all these creative minds that were there and doing their thing, so I thought, Why don’t I sit down with these [people] and ask them how they work, what they need? It started there. I wasn’t really looking to write a book. It was more about gaining knowledge and learning something myself.
Outside of the conference setting, how did you choose who to talk to?
I wrote a wish list of my heroes, people I like, includ- ing George Lois, who did a lot of Esquire covers and is someone I admire. I emailed him and asked if we could speak, and I was surprised that he said yes. I thought if he said yes, perhaps others would too, so I began emailing other designers and art- ists and travelled around to where they were to interview them.
Some of your interviewees are quite well-known and others are more obscure.
The big ones — you’ve read them everywhere, you’ve seen their interviews. In Belgium, there are some famous artists that I didn’t ask, and a lot of people ask me why I didn’t. For commercial reasons, it might have been better to do them. But I wasn’t thinking commercially, I must say. I was thinking, “Who are the people who I admire and whose work I like — who speak to me, who move me? Who do I want to know in person?” There wasn’t a big marketing scheme. If people read the book, maybe they’ll discover someone, or they get inspired by the words of a certain person and they’ll look into their work and get to know their work.
Where did the photographs come in?
The photography is really funny because I had to take the pictures myself for the first interviews. I interviewed George Lois in his apartment and took the pictures and I was so excited. I went back to Belgium and the pictures were completely out of focus and had the wrong lighting. I couldn’t use them. I thought, “Okay, shit.” I have a friend who is a photographer and I told him, “Look, maybe it’s best if you tag along”.
The book is very design-oriented. It’s an art object. What was your motivation around the aesthetic of the book itself?
I wanted the book to be what I call a “visual orgasm.” The words were there and were necessary, but it had to speak in images — the images had to sparkle. This was essential to me. It’s not every day you make a book.
What is the most valuable lesson you learned through these interviews?
I am a person who really doubts himself. I think my ideas are not always that original, and I fear failure a lot. I think artists are really courageous people, because their work is judged in a split second. But these designers and artists, they all suffer from the same insecurities. The insecurities are part of it. Failure is part of it. You have to have passion for the work. For me, the big difference with artists is that they work without compromise. They do what they do because they have to. If they compromise, it’s not their work anymore. That’s something that really stuck with me. You have to know where you’re going.
A new book, Creatives on Creativity, explores the inner workings of the world’s most creative minds
N ABOKOV CALLED IT THE “FRISSON” — that subtle feeling, that electric charge that makes it possible for the artist to create. It’s impossible to teach someone how to come up with an original idea, and it’s difficult to even explain how you came up with an idea after you’ve had one. But
nothing happens without creativity.
Steve Brouwers has long been fas- cinated by the question of creativity. The Belgium-based author behind the new book Creatives on Creativity works as a creative director in advertising, and he’s often won- dered how creative people dream up their ideas. With that mystery in mind, Brouwers travelled across Europe, interviewing dozens of filmmakers, illustrators, designers, and
others about their creative processes. Sharp caught up with Brouwers to dis- cuss the genesis of Creatives on Creativity.

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