Creativity Templates: Stealing with Soul or Clever Archeology?

Browsing thru Posterous, the brainchild of Sachin Agarwal and Garry Tan, included in Creativity-online’s annual list of the most influential and inspiring creative personalities of the last year, aka The 2010 Creativity 50, I came across a quotation by Jim Jarmusch, one that enjoys being an eternal carry-over between blogs and sites.

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, painting, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and your theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery-celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: ‘It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to’.”

A recommendation often heard in advertising classes and or seen in books on advertising creativity: Read the old annuals, study the old ads, dismount the award-winners, look at tourism catalogs, and read everything in sight. And so on.

Something Neil French himself said beautifully in his The Matador and the Adverts video where he likens advertising to bull fighting:

Creativity in bull-fighting, just like creativity in advertising, is not necessarily doing something that’s never been done before. What it is, is doing something that the audience has not seen before or thinks they’ve never seen before. (…) What El Juli did was to go through all the books of bull-fighting from his father’s library and find passes which haven’t been done for thirty or forty years. He practiced them in front room till he got them exactly right. Then he took them to the bull ring. And people look at that young man now and they say that the man is a genius, he has invented most of it. He hasn’t invented the stuff. What’s he’s done is archeology. He’s reckoned to be the most creative and one of the bravest bull-fighters of the present time”.

Zeal for stealing aside, the wisdom from Jarmusch to French kind of says, re-do old stuff with a pinch of your soul. Maybe that is exactly why Creative Templates are really valuable.

It doesn’t say steal or re-do. It says study what’s on hand and see what else you can do with them. Quotes being quotes, Howard Gossage - another advertising legend – is probably more appropriate for SIT: “If you are stuck with lemons, make lemonade.”

Haluk and the rest of us at SIT would be happy to talk to you about innovation and creativity in advertising.

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3 Responses to “Creativity Templates: Stealing with Soul or Clever Archeology?”

  1. 1 amnon

    Following your thieving (archeological, i mean) spirit, Haluk, this is what Peter Souter, Creative Director at AVM BBDO in London once wrote:
    “If you want to be a good novelist don’t skimp on those trips to the library and don’t go to bed early. If you want to be a good advertising creative go to a book shop and practise a lot.”

    We used to hand out copies of this article in all our advertising workshops. The title was: Peter Souter argues that creativity can be taught. (Like stealing or digging, i guess(:

  2. 2 Haluk Mesci


    Thieving or stealing -even in the archeological sense- is the last thing I’d stomach. Study the old stuff, I would; learn from them, I definetely advocate; re-create similar in line for an advertising workshop, I always exercise. But my truenorth is making numerous other things with what I’ve got. Like our moms, never throwing out a left-over, always mixing different grains of this or that type of rice from the cupboard to make a colorful pilaf.

  3. 3 amnon

    we call it Task Unification(:

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