Just starting. That seems to be the hardest part of the creative process. In this episode Don and Rob walk you through their process for creating.
Don Mock 0:20
I like the drinking of the tea. It’s like a radio show.
Rob Broadfoot 0:24
Feels like a real podcast.
Don Mock 0:25
Yeah. Like professionals.
Rob Broadfoot 0:26
If only people could see me drinking.
Don Mock 0:27
Exactly. YouTube. Watch out. We’re coming for you next. All right, episode four, we thought for today’s episode, we’d maybe do a little bit less chatting about us specifically, and talking about creativity as a whole, right? And what is creativity? How does that work? And specifically, I think what might be an interesting question for both of us to answer would be the process of creation. Soon as we get an assignment, dare I say? 3, 2, 1, go. What happens next, right?
Rob Broadfoot 0:59
Right. Yeah, I think.
Don Mock 1:02
I mean, we’re just going right into it here. No, preamble. No, funny Christmas present stories. We’re just going straight in.
Rob Broadfoot 1:09
I think what you learn in this industry is the, and we’ve talked about this before, the idea that you have to learn to be creative while you’re on a clock.
Don Mock 1:21
Yeah, that’s weird, right.
Rob Broadfoot 1:22
With timelines and everything else. And yeah, and that’s, I think, it’s one of the most challenging lessons to learn for people who are just getting started is. Okay, you’ve got to be creative. Ready? Go.
Don Mock 1:34
Yeah, exactly. Exactly.
Rob Broadfoot 1:36
And we always say around here, deadlines compel focus.
Don Mock 1:40
Rob Broadfoot 1:41
Which is absolutely true. Both in any endeavor, I would say, right, creative or..
Don Mock 1:47
Yeah, I think a little bit of stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing to help jumpstart the process. But I think, you know, to your point, both of us taught sort of adjunct professors for a while earlier in our careers, right, teaching at finishing schools, creative circles, things like that, right. And one of the things I used to tell, and I’m sure you used to tell your students as well is sort of training your brain, because creativity is not a light switch, right?
Rob Broadfoot 2:10
Don Mock 2:10
And then all of a sudden, you’re out of school, or you’re in a job, or whatever the case may be, and it’s like, okay, boom, it’s 830, snap your fingers time to be creative. And it’s like … what? I have total creative block, like, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do, right. So I guess along those lines, do you have thoughts on what you do to block the block, dare I say? To sort of work your way through creative block or starting a project in general? I mean, I think that because you’re obviously a copywriter, and I’m more on the doodling art director side, we probably approach these differently in terms of how to train our brain or how to work through the block differently, right?
Rob Broadfoot 2:51
Yeah, I think it’s a nice romantic notion to think that as a writer I always have a pad or a notebook by my side on my bedside table, while I’m out hiking. You know, whatever. And oh, my gosh, the inspiration..
Don Mock 3:08
Rob Broadfoot 3:08
Just strikes and you jot it down and bring it into the office and go, oh I’ve got a winner.
Don Mock 3:12
Yeah, you mean you don’t do that? That’s not a thing?
Rob Broadfoot 3:14
I would say over my career.
Don Mock 3:16
Has that ever happened?
Rob Broadfoot 3:18
Maybe once or twice.
Don Mock 3:19
Rob Broadfoot 3:20
Maybe once or twice.
Don Mock 3:21
Rob Broadfoot 3:22
But it’s not the romantic oh my gosh, I got a great idea in the middle of the night. It’s like, maybe I got sort of some sort of idea.
Don Mock 3:29
Rob Broadfoot 3:30
But then it’s come in the office and figure it out.
Don Mock 3:33
Flush it out.
Rob Broadfoot 3:33
And maybe you can remember it, but more often than not, it’s..
Don Mock 3:36
Okay, so there’s no dry erase board in the shower? Then boom, all of a sudden, I got the greatest..
Rob Broadfoot 3:40
Don Mock 3:40
Headline in the history of ever.
Rob Broadfoot 3:42
No, never written a headline on the shower door in the fog, or anything like that.
Don Mock 3:47
Yeah, I can’t say that I’ve ever done that either. No logo design on the shower door, you know.
Rob Broadfoot 3:52
No, didn’t happen.
Don Mock 3:53
Maybe we should try that though?
Rob Broadfoot 3:55
Yeah, do it.
Don Mock 3:56
I mean, one of these days. I don’t know, okay keep going.
Rob Broadfoot 4:03
You need to just record it, but no, don’t do it.
Don Mock 4:13
No, no one needs to see that. All right.
Rob Broadfoot 4:01
But I think for me, it’s always, okay, you get the assignment, right, be it a detailed brief or just a client conversation, whatever the jumping off point is. And then from there, it’s really about just starting to work and just starting to write. I mean, we all know the idea that like, you’re handed a blank page, that’s the hardest part, the hardest part of starting anything,
Don Mock 4:02
Rob Broadfoot 4:03
And I don’t care what it is that we’re doing, but you’ve got this blank page in front of you. Well, for me, the easiest way to overcome that is knowing a bunch of garbage is gonna come out of my head, but you always have to get through that.
Don Mock 4:28
Flush the garbage.
Rob Broadfoot 4:35
To get to the good stuff, but sometimes the good stuff comes out first, like there’s no real rhyme or reason to it. But it’s really just for me a matter of just starting, so I just start writing.
Don Mock 4:48
Rob Broadfoot 4:49
And it’s not really a stream of consciousness, although I guess sometimes that applies, but it’s, take an idea, think about a germ of an idea and then try and write if I’m writing headlines, it’s then try and write, you know, ten headlines around that one idea.
Don Mock 5:08
Rob Broadfoot 5:07
And then stop. And then find another idea. And then write ten headlines, and I don’t analyze as I go, I just start going. To me, that’s the hardest part.
Don Mock 5:19
Well, one thing too, that I’ve learned that is, I think, pretty kick ass about your approach as well is not necessarily always sitting down and writing at a computer. It’s old school pencil, pen, writing on a piece of paper. Right? Which I always thought was pretty cool. And I don’t know if that’s just a byproduct of, you know, how long we’ve been doing it. I mean, in terms of like, we joke about not having the notebook, versus just sitting at the blank Word doc and trying to write amazing headlines. But..
Rob Broadfoot 5:19
Yeah, I don’t know what that is either. I don’t know if it feels more…
Don Mock 5:53
One idea per piece of paper. I think it’s cool.
Rob Broadfoot 5:55
Yeah, like, if we’re doing ads, like a lot of times, we’ll sit down and like, I’m notorious for my stick figure drawings.
Don Mock 6:01
I love the doodles.
Rob Broadfoot 6:02
I cannot draw my way out of a whatever, but..
Don Mock 6:04
It doesn’t matter.
Rob Broadfoot 6:05
But yeah, just a single idea on a sheet of paper. Killing trees. But writing it out on pencil or whatever the idea, and it’s not crafting a headline, but it’s just writing the idea for the headline on a piece of paper.
Don Mock 6:17
Well, I do think you bring up a really good point, though, that especially from a writing perspective, and here I am the art guy talking about writing, but I think there is a dramatic difference in generating ideas versus crafting lines, right?
Rob Broadfoot 6:31
Don Mock 6:31
And what you mentioned in terms of like, what’s the idea? And then, get it out of your head. Write the idea, get the idea out, maybe write that out forwards and backwards and left and right and upside down and backwards, but then put that on the side hatch, and then generate another idea, right? And don’t necessarily stress or worry about, is it the perfect headline? Is it the funniest headline, was the grammar correct? Is it first person? You know what I mean? It’s just about sort of generation of ideas.
Rob Broadfoot 6:56
I think that’s another good point that you brought up, which is, I think you’re talking about writing. And I can talk a little bit about design. And what I mean by that is that we’re big believers in the ideas come from anywhere.
Don Mock 7:09
Rob Broadfoot 7:10
A headline comes from anywhere or a logo idea comes from like, I don’t care where it comes from. At the end of the day, you’re trying to service the idea, or whatever that is.
Don Mock 7:19
Rob Broadfoot 7:20
And so I think, if I’m going to brag for a second, I think you and I both do a good job. It’s a good partnership in that we can both look at each other’s work and help craft it and mold it together to get to the end, result. But, how do you? Okay, so how do you? Alright, you’ve got to do a logo for, I don’t know, a tree service.
Don Mock 7:42
Rob Broadfoot 7:43
Yeah. Where do you start? What’s, the first step?
Don Mock 7:45
Well, I think I agree fundamentally with what you said earlier, in that the hardest part is just the starting. Because the overthinking it can kind of, what is it, paralysis by analysis, that type of approach, right? So a lot of times, you just gotta get the obvious ones out.
Rob Broadfoot 8:02
Don Mock 8:02
And I think over the however many years we’ve done it and logo reviews and things here, right? It’s alright everybody, here’s the assignment, it’s for a tree service, everybody, do your trees, get your trees out of the system, and then move on to something that starts to become more conceptual.
Rob Broadfoot 8:17
Don Mock 8:17
I will say that designers do have the added benefits sometimes because obviously, we’re sketching by hand, we’re in illustrator, we’re drawing digitally. We’re doing all that kind of stuff. I will say that sometimes happy accidents occur as you’re designing digitally. Unintended things of what you’re trying to do. So those things kind of sometimes work their way in as well, which I’ve always kind of appreciated. But I think the process is, is just starting and going and then seeing you know, and I’m the same way, like I just kind of make my canvas or my artboard gigantic and then just step and repeat.
Rob Broadfoot 8:53
Don Mock 8:53
And don’t massage it. Don’t spend like six and a half hours, you know, trying to craft the perfect little such and such and whatever. It’s really more get the idea out. Who cares if your bezier curves are correct or not, or the type is totally right yet, or if it’s the right color, or this or that or whatever the case may be. It’s generate the idea, generate the composition, the structure of the design, and then move on. And you can always go back, you know, the goal is to generate as many as you can, and then you start to filter. I think one thing too, and we talked about deadlines compel focus. One thing that I think is really important, too, is to not just work on something forever.
Rob Broadfoot 9:32
Don Mock 9:32
From a creative process, you know, focus and I used to say this, actually, when I was when I was teaching as well, it was it’s not about burning out and that sort of concept. It’s, you know, it’s don’t just slog away at something for 10 hours straight, you know, eight hours straight, whatever the case may be is, do an hour, two hours laser focused, chug your cup of coffee, get in, rock as many ideas as you can and then get away from it.
Rob Broadfoot 9:57
Don Mock 9:57
Right. Turn it off for a little bit, you know, come back the next day, you know, oh, yeah, these ideas are totally awesome. Or oh my god, these are terrible, or oh, I didn’t really like this one yesterday, but now that I have clarity of thought, you know, I can massage this one into something else, so.
Rob Broadfoot 10:12
Don Mock 10:12
So from a designer’s perspective, you know, also too its variety is the spice, right? So it’s, you know, but if we’re talking about tree services, for example, you also have to think about, you know, target audience and who it’s going for, you know, what I mean? And, you know, there’s so many different design theories, methodologies, time periods, eras, is it Swiss design? Is it Bauhaus? Is it, you know, what, I mean, I could we could list those things forever. Right. But it’s, is it appropriate for the business?
Rob Broadfoot 10:42
Don Mock 10:42
And I mean, so I think, you know, part of the process, and we’re talking about creative process, and I’m kind of just going on, and on and on here. But is, you say that, you know, the white piece of paper is the hardest place to start, right? For us, it’s the same way, it’s the white illustrator doc, but it’s, you almost want guardrails or frames around what you want, how you want to approach the design, right? Because I think that helps spawn and generate ideas within that pool within that bucket.
Rob Broadfoot 11:12
Right, and then what we generally what we do is, we kind of get all those ideas out. And then so you have this sort of big throw up of ideas, right? If you want to call it that, and then just..
Don Mock 11:24
It’s prettier than that, though.
Rob Broadfoot 11:25
It is prettier, though. It’s a beautiful throw up. It’s a beautiful vomit of ideas. No, but then we get them all out on the table, but we sort of, we sort of lay them out on the conference table and look through them. And a lot of times what we do is we, we don’t try and identify out of the gate, which ideas are the best, we start backwards and start to turnover stuff. And it’s stuff that we know isn’t going to make it through for whatever reason. And a lot of times, for us anyway, I don’t know how it is for everybody else. But for us, it works really well to, let’s go ahead and turn over what we don’t like.
Don Mock 11:25
Rob Broadfoot 11:25
And then what we know is not going to make it and that helps us kind of get down to a core set of ideas, logos, concepts, designs, whatever, that we feel as strong about moving them forward, and that’s when we get in and then start to craft them. For me, that’s when I get hung up on should there be a comma? Should there be a period? Does it not have a period? Is there you know, all the sort of nuances of language with regards to writing.
Don Mock 12:24
Em dashes, still confused by them. No, but it’s funny, we actually guide clients on that as well. You know, a lot of times a logo presentation, it’s especially for a round one. We’re picking on logos today because it’s easy to pick on. But, you know, it’s hey, the goal for round one is a nice shotgun approach of a lot of different things. One toe and a lot of different pools. And sometimes it’s hard to pick that one or two or three that you like, and sometimes it’s easier to just turn those pieces of paper over. This one’s not going to work, you know, and start, you know, thinning the herd dare I say.
Rob Broadfoot 12:55
Yeah, and generally speaking to that end, and I think the reason that we do that, oftentimes is because we generally try to over deliver, meaning a first round, again, we’ll stick with logos, but like a first round logo presentation with us. We’re not going to show you three logos. Here they are, we’ve crafted them meticulously. And here they are pick A, B, or C.
Don Mock 13:19
Rob Broadfoot 13:19
We enjoy when clients are part of the process and helping sort of develop, so you’re gonna see more, and it’s therefore, it is a little bit overwhelming. Oh, my gosh, where do I start? Well, the easiest place to start off in is by turning over things that you don’t, that, you know, aren’t going to make it through.
Don Mock 13:35
Agreed. Agreed. Is there a different process from a writing perspective for different types of writing assignments? Like, you know, big, dare I say, like ad campaign versus a different type of writing assignment and whatnot? I mean, is the idea, is the generation of ideas differently? Because I’m sitting here thinking about, we’ve been, it’s just been picking on logos, logos, logos, logos.
Rob Broadfoot 13:57
Don Mock 13:58
But but from a designer, from an art director perspective, you know, designing brand standards, logos, you know, brochures, sometimes even ads, the process can actually be pretty similar.
Rob Broadfoot 14:11
I would say the process for me, for writing different types of things is always the same. Just meaning you just kind of start and you know, the difference is when you’re doing like, okay, let’s say I’ve got a set of headlines to write for a chicken company, or something like that. Then you’re spending an hour writing lines that are a bit irreverent. Then tone comes into play.
Don Mock 14:34
Rob Broadfoot 14:35
Okay, I’m gonna write an hour’s worth of, you know, a little bit of sarcasm, a little bit of irreverence, but then I’m gonna do oh, nope, now I’m going to do a pretty straightforward, you know, line. So that’s when it but generally speaking, the approach is really often the same, which is just start. Here’s the assignment.
Don Mock 14:50
Rob Broadfoot 14:51
Just start, just start going.
Don Mock 14:54
You know. That ties in perfectly to sort of our approach to business in general, though, is just ready, go. Start going, like start going. Yeah, I love that. Alright.
Rob Broadfoot 15:05
Don Mock 15:06
Anything else on the creative process?
Rob Broadfoot 15:09
I don’t think so. I mean that, you know, that’s the very top line process if you want to call it that.
Don Mock 15:16
I think the wrap up is: don’t be afraid to start. I mean, just go, go, go and don’t stress about trying to craft the perfect thing right out, right out of the gun, right off the chute, should I say, I guess. Just get it out the system and just go, and go, and go, and go, and going. And then stop, take a break. Come back, review, continue to either add or continue or start to edit and thin.
Rob Broadfoot 15:37
There’ll be plenty of time for crafting.
Don Mock 15:39
Yeah, oh, yeah, there’ll be there’ll be more than one revision. Right?
Rob Broadfoot 15:43
Right. All right. Very good. Well, hey, don’t forget to visit us online at: mocktheAgency.com of course, and you can find us @mocktheagency on all the socials as well. Alright, play us out. See you next time.