Creative Process


Creative Process



Explore as many ideas as possible in early stages, even an idea that seems stupid in your head can lead to something great.

Allow extended time for un-distracted processing, which means not checking Instagram or anything with my phone not involving music.

When I think I've found a solution, I try to break it, looking for new areas of improvement or possible long term problems

Once you allow yourself to find inspiration in anything from movies to traveling and let go of the fear of being unoriginal, you can reach places creatively you never imagined before.

I try to use the devil's advocate mentality to figure out how my solution could be taken out of context to look for anything I haven't considered.

Small teams are awesome for progress, large teams are best when made up of small teams that come together to stay on track. Too many voices giving input can cloud productivity, but one strong voice can often be ignorant of solutions others can contribute.

Diversity is awesome. There are people who know a lot about things I can only guess at. The input of a new perspective can be enlightening or at least informative.


Time and time again I hear from recruiters and those in industry that they want to see process so they know how people create the work that they do, not just the finished product. While I've included some process work in my portfolio, I thought I'd include a description of my general process, both on my own and with a team. As I started writing this it was sectioned off, as if creativity were a series of steps, but now it's just points in no particular order. While how I create has a loose structure of identification, inspiration ideation, fabrication, and execution, it's often these stages get jumbled up when presented with real business challenges and the complexities of working with a diverse team.


Any creative effort starts with figuring out why we're creating at all. Communicating with clients, managers, and team members to really get to the root of what we're trying to accomplish and who we're trying to reach. From there some sort of "brief" stage happens. In agency at FIR NW, I've been presented with a brief by my account planers, but most of the time I'm putting together a document describing the who/what/where/why/when of what I'm getting started on, along with a guiding insight to remain the heart of whatever machine is created around it.


There are basically three schools of thought I apply when I begin concepting, either with a copywriter, team, or myself. They are not mutually exclusive, and often a mix of the three are applied.

John Cleese Method

Thanks to a video we watched in ART 115 my freshman year and my love of British comedy, I'm a huge fan of John Cleese's thoughts on creativity. This method involves setting aside an hour and a half of empty time to enter the "open mode." This is a mental state where you let all the things that bother you all day just pass by, and focus on nothing but the problem at hand. Then you play. You write the idea down, talk about it, draw, do whatever. All that matters is that you're digging past your first idea and coming up with as many possible solutions. The teams I've worked on where we've tried this affectionately refers to this as The Purge, since any idea goes. Even if Darth Vader Duct Tape Jacket isn't the solution we need, it may lead to somewhere we really want to go. It also helps everyone feel included on the creative process and take ownership of whatever idea is executed. At the end of the hour and a half you can re-enter the "closed mode," evaluating your ideas practically, looking at the financial, technical, and conceptual realities of the ideas you've decided are your best.

David Kelley Method

Drawn from Tom and David Kelley's book, Creative Confidence, as well as their work at IDEO and David's lectures on the subject. David Kelley is often credited as the originator of the "Design Thinking," process of problem solving. The simplest way to describe it is the double-diamond approach. First, you start with the problem and come up with every possible conceptual solution to that problem. Once you're staring at a wall of sticky-note ideas, start to collect those that group together and figure out the concept most likely to be successful. From there, we go into the second diamond, where we come up with every possible execution and application of the concept. We repeat the process from the first diamond, collecting similar ideas and refining down what we have until we arrive at an execution that we're satisfied with and can move forward with.

Jobs to be done Theory

Pioneered by Clayton Christensen, this school of thinking looks at consumer problems as jobs to be done. When someone uses your product, watches your video, or interacts with their content, what purpose does it fulfill in their lives? What "job" are they hiring you to solve? When using this line of thinking, I'll look at as much consumer data as possible, preferably a strong mix of qualitative and quantitative to get to the root of a consumer's emotional connection to the product, service, or brand. From there one can design directly around what the consumer thinks of the product, not what we wish they thought about the product.

Ultimately it's a combination of all three of these lines of thinking that impact the conceptual framework I take whenever getting to work on a client project, brand design, or art project. This process answers the question: what can be done to solve the problem.


In this stage I look at anything and everything that could possibly provide inspiration for the project. Whether it's a Studio Ghibli film, a YEEZY runway show, Zaha Hadid's architecture, or literally anything else, I know that any idea I'm presented with could give me the fuel for inspiration that sets my project on the right path. When working in the context of a team, this portion is usually done on our own, allowing us to freely formulate our own thinking around the diverse content we're taking in and using to expand our thinking. What we find can be collected into moodboards and then presented to the rest of the team


This is the step of creating sketches, comps, and bringing ideas to life so that they can be reviewed in as final form as possible without actually executing the idea. We've all seen the difference between how something looks in our mind vs. when it's actually physically in front of us. For example, with a logo, I'll create around 50 thumbnail sketches of possible forms, and then take my five favorite into Illustrator to refine the form.


After exploring the ideas as fully as I can then I execute in the final format. Often times I'll do several mocks during the fabrication stage to ensure I've chosen the correct method of execution. From there it gets printed, painted, distressed, or manufactured as intended.