Archives For Creativity

This post from Design Taxi crystallizes the argument against creativity in Hollywood. Granted, that’s not a hard argument to make. But its a shame. Hollywood should lead the way in creativity. But alas, with big money comes big fear and aversion to risk which is why it seems my wife and I sometimes spend more time searching for a movie than actually watching them. Some nights, it seems like they all suck.

The Design Taxi post is about the idea of a French film distributor named Christophe Courtois. He found reoccurring trends in the graphic design of Hollywood movie posters. Yellow backgrounds. Women in red dresses. Great big eyeballs. But then he did something really creative with his insight.

He made mosaics out of the repetitive, boring, same–same approaches that Hollywood studios seem to lean on again and again. He kicked Hollywoods butt at their own game: creativity. And uh, why is Tom Crusie always show in profile?

For a breath of creative fresh air, here are a couple awesome offerings from the great Saul Bass.

And here’s a nifty take on the top 20 movie posters of all time.

“Why Man Creates” is a 1968 documentary animated film from Saul Bass. And sheesh, does it feel like the prototypical tone of animation in the 60’s: that graphic style (which Schoolhouse Rock borrows from), that lush, somewhat cheesy orchestral musical score, the zany wacky sound effects. (Part 1 is seen above.)

While studying film at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I learned about the graphic awesomeness of Saul Bass as a famous designer of movie titles.

As an ad guy, I knew of his legendary logos.

Recently I found “Why Man Creates.” And I’m kinda sorry to say the ideas on why we create don’t do a whole lot for me, despite its Academy Award, experimental tactics and go-go dancers. The style and execution are cool, but I’m not sure I’m smelling everything that it’s cooking. It’s as if the ancient Greeks wrote it. And while The Frogs is a helluva play, it’s a little…inaccessible.

Wow. This video from Motion Plus Design is a jaw dropper for motion design freaks, with some great history, beautiful examples, and a video bibliography that’ll blow you away. Their Facebook presence is really exciting, with lots of folks chipping in coooooool coolness. Here’s hoping their new initiative to bring more motion design awareness to the world takes off.

Found via Maria Popova at Brainpickings, a really great blog that you should frequently read.

Maira Kalman is a great illustrator of book covers and New Yorker magazine covers, and a captivating TED speaker. She just illustrated Michael Pollen’s “Food Rules,” which you should buy, read and live if you have not already.

When people like Maira, who are driven by the visual arts, come up with a line like “everywhere I go I see hats,” which is a very verbal, wordy and cool bit of writing, it makes me hope that the Great Scorekeeper of Creativity awards visually-oriented people like Maira at least 10 Writer Points.

One wonderful thing about this Dang Internet Era is the plethora of newness out there. Sheesh. New apps, websites and tools that can help push us creatively seem to be everywhere. The iPhone and iPad photography apps are stellar, and can make photographers and video shooters better. Simple music tools can make musicians better. So what tools, tricks and tactics can you start using to push your inner creative? Dig around. Find stuff. Try stuff. Stretch what you know and what you can do.

My amazing (har-har) new song “What New Tools” was created using the tool in the iPhone app store called Songify. I just spoke, and it automatically made it seem like I was singing, and it added some (verrrrrry cheesy) music, and viola, it’s a song. Poof! I brought the tune into GarageBand to add some extra schnazz. Then I thought I may as well make a video. So one visit to and an hour in iMovie later, and the internet is more clogged up with the fruit of creative tools.

Any cool tools you’ve been using?

Nike has created a nation for a soccer team in Brazil. That’s a pretty dang big idea. Check it out. Here’s more on the idea from


Thomas Edison would work for two solid days to perfect experiments, with nothing more than a few naps to get him through. It was a little crazy.

Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones spent endless hours holed up in his apartment listening to blues albums, in his quest to help the Stones become England’s best blues band. It was a little crazy.

My potter friend Mark Skudlarek has a special kind of clay that gets driven by the truckload from a quarry in Indiana to his studio on Cambridge, Wisconsin, so he can make the perfect kind of clay for his pots. It’s a little crazy.

Creative geniuses seem to have a crazy, offbeat little thing or two that fuels their work, and that makes society say, “That’s weird.”

So, what’s your thing – a habit, routine, trait, trick, oddity, or system that helps fuel your creativity? Why not make one up?

The great “Think Different” ad from Apple began “Here’s to the crazy ones.” They are the ones who changed the world. They were different. They had traits that were a little crazy.

You may not want to change the world. But I do hope you consider inventing some crazy, different thing that can make you be more interesting, more creative, and a bigger contributor to good things on this planet than everyone else you work with who is as boring and similar and common as…everyone else.

I’ve always believed that the key to having a great idea is to have a lot of ideas. So how deep can you go to generate ideas? You need to go pretty deep. Quantity counts, when solving a business problem, inventing something, or being an artist. Go. Deep. Now.

One way to you can crack open some cool creative ideas is to get closer. Robert Di Niro nails this idea. To prepare for his role as Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull, Di Niro threw himself into the character, literally transforming himself into a boxer to get closer. Who was his trainer? Jake LaMotta. That’s about as close as you can get.

And, you know what? If you’re in a community that’s pooping its pants about a blizzard, with 24/7 media coverage and Twitter freakout, the best way to get closer to the blizzard means to hang out…in…the…blizzard. It was very cool getting closer to Ma Nature.

“New and improved” is timeless. Taking the best attributes of a thing, or a service, and making it better is what Vince Lombardi would call blocking and tackling. You should look to your business’ best product or service or attribute, or the best piece of a product or service or attribute, and make a big ol’ list of improvements. Web and app developers are in continual “make it better” mode. Apple is always building a better version of their existing awesome things. Take what your customers love about you, and give them more reasons to feel the love.