Q. Do you think having the craft skills as well as the thinking skills are a basic requirement for effective design?
A.”.. Yes. People talk about craftsmen and the assumption is that they are the “do-ers” rather than the “thinkers”. I think great craftsmen are made as a marriage between technique and expression….I got obsessed by jazz at one stage in my life and I thought how a jazz man must hold so much knowledge in his head – you know, his knowledge of chromatic scales and the whole nuts and bolts of how music works - for him to shut his eyes and play. He’s not a 3 chord wonder! And for me that was really where I saw jazz at the cutting edge of craftsmanship in music in the sense that to play, to improvise like that is pure creativity and yet somehow his expression is informed by his technique. And that takes time, knowledge and practise…”
Q. How do you know when you are being effective?
A. “..The scale of some of the things I’m doing or thinking about takes a lot of time. It’s just full-on. I mean, there’s no on and off switch and have had to learn that to be effective, I have to turn off sometimes. It’s hard for me to do that, but I know I’ve got to do it. The gym is good, as is having a dog because we go for 2 hour walks. Creative people can sometimes explode with creativity. Creativity requires energy. And you need to know how to manage it. I don’t mean to control it, but to manage the sorts of things that enable you to work at your most effective and energy is a massive part of it..”
Q. What are the 3 things you do every day to make you effective personally?
A. “… Well, I think there a very big relationship between exercise and mental effectiveness so I have a really good commute to work because I come into Paddington or Queensway and I walk across or cycle over Hyde Park.
The second thing is to create bits of space where I’m not going to be invaded or I’m not being niggled. So if I know I’ve got to ring someone, before the task I protect some time to prepare. I spent years as a freelancer and one of the great mistakes was not to get dressed properly because I was at home all day. Someone came around once after I’d worked all day and I was still in my pyjamas and unshaven and he said “get a grip! How can you work properly?”. So I think you’ve got to get yourself in the zone or shape to do your job and that includes wearing the right clothes so that you feel like a professional doing a professional job.
Thirdly, I’ve got to spend some time preparing for whatever I’m going to do. I once interviewed Dave Trott at the peak of GGT when he was the number one creative director in London and he said to me, “ The biggest mistake in the ad industry is to think that chaos is creative. Chaos is not creative. Being organised is creative”.
Revamp Huddersfield in 24 hours. Mission impossible?
We’re linking up with people in arts, business, sports and science all the time and interviewing them to get their take on the art of effectiveness.
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