Re-kindling the Creative Spark

Raise your hands as high as they can…go ahead, raise them. Are they up? As high as you can reach?


Good….now raise them an inch higher.


How many of you could go the extra inch? My guess is everyone. This is an exercise in finding your Creative Zing Zone; one of many that I learned at the annual How Design Live Conference this past May. What is your Creative Zing Zone? It is the passion to strive for that one last idea, one last design that will blow all of the others out of the water.


It can be easy to fall into the monotony of a daily routine. Luckily, the Kindle partners recognized this, and thus sent me on a plane to Boston in order to learn from (and with) the best in the design business. I had the opportunity to learn how to stay innovative while delivering the highest quality designs to our clients.


One of the most useful sessions I participated in was an improv training class. Sounds fun, you may say…but being a rather shy person, the thought of three hours performing in front of complete strangers terrified me. But, that is what I went for, to step out of my comfort zone and grow. I figured it would also be a useful tool to help develop my live proposal skills.


In order to truly reach your maximum creativity, one must forego the fear of “looking stupid.” Many ideas are left unsaid due to this stigma, even though these ideas are the stimulus for developing something truly great. Pulling back from the absurd is much easier than pushing forward from the norm. Within this three-hour session, I found myself laughing, hugging and screaming at complete strangers….very useful indeed.


Each new HOW Design Live Key Note speaker wowed me a little more than the one before. A very charismatic Johnny Earle (Johnny Cupcakes) narrated his amazing success story focusing on the importance of a vision, hard work and quality packaging. Christine Mau (Kimberly Clark, No More Campaign) spoke to the value of understanding and designing to what the client WANTS and not just merely what they may need. Stanley Hainsworth (creative director to Nike, Lego, Starbucks and now owner of Tether) was a living, breathing example of the magnitude of strong branding. Or was Aaron Draplin….a “raging sentimentalist, mountain of a man.” (his words)? Aaron Draplin was one of the most passionate graphic designers I have had the privilege to meet. Born in the Midwest, now operating out of Portland, Oregon, Draplin spends much of his time traveling and searching for antique graphic design. His message to all modern designers: do not let past designers’ work die. By simply snapping a photo of these marks and reintroducing them into the world, we give it a chance to live on and influence something bigger. And then there was Bob Gill who brought everyone in the house back to reality, reminding us that since we are all so fully engulfed and influenced by today’s culture, originality is fading. He urged everyone to get out, have an experience, and learn firsthand about something in order to form an honest original opinion about it. Quality and meaningful design do not start in front of a computer.


Having the opportunity to attend the How Design Live conference and hearing some of the field’s top creative minds was a very inspiring and humbling experience for me. I brought back a plethora of tools to help advance our teams’ creative skillset. After meeting fellow creative professionals from all over the continent, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Kindle Communications is slightly ahead of the curve on the creative solutions and tools we are able to offer to our clients. There is no doubt that it is because we have a management team that is so devoted to each staff member’s personal and professional growth.