Kristen Marino

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Freedom to Be Creative

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During my education – in both high school and the first half of college – I have had lots of opportunities to be creative. But even in those moments, there have almost always been clear guidelines, instructions or requirements that have, in a way, stifled my creativity.

After my sophomore year I had more freedom to choose topics and projects in which I was actually interested, but it wasn’t until I watched the documentary “Briefly” by Bassett & Partners that I realized how much the years of restrictions had affected me.

While watching the documentary, I was almost shocked to hear the various creatives talk about how flexible the creative brief was. The idea that a “great project is a brief and response that resonate but don’t agree” was so new to me because in almostScreen Shot 2017-04-16 at 4.56.45 PM all of my previous experiences, the end result should have naturally and logically followed the initial assignment.

It was also surprising that the team actually prefers clients who don’t have one campaign in mind, but rather those that have a long-term marketing or branding goal. For example, Samsung’s brief to become the “credible number two to the smartphone leader” was intriguing because it wasn’t simply requesting an advertising campaign – it wanted a strategic plan to develop its name.

This relates perfectly to the statement made by one of the creatives in the documentary. “I don’t believe in briefs,” he said. “I believe in relationships.” In other words, creating a compelling campaign is not as simple as following instructions by the client. Rather, it requires a dialogue, an honest conversation about the brand’s ultimate goals, values and priorities.

Finally, the idea that you should “use the projects you’re given as a way to start to define how you think” greatly resonated with me. All too often I view assignments as short-term requirements I must complete to receive the grade I want or to add something to my resume. But when it comes down to it, I should view assignments as creative opportunities to explore what I care about; what I might want to pursue after graduation and what type of person, thinker and professional I might want to become.

Because, for better or for worse, May 2018 is only one short year away.

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Being Creative

Seconds tick by as I stare pointedly at the blinking cursor on the blank page of my soon-to-be masterpiece. The world around me starts to fade and I feel myself being drawn in to the project at hand, imagining possibilities and carefully considering my approach.

There is nothing like the feeling of finally completing a project I’ve spent days perfecting; finish-writing-project-630x472finally printing the tangible representation of my hard work, dedication and thoughts.

Arriving at that moment, however, is no easy task.

How I begin a project will vary enormously. If I have ideas or rigid instructions, I will start by typing an outline. Then I will conduct the necessary research and update the plan as I go so that when I am ready to write I will have most of the necessary information.

However, though there are certain guidelines I still must follow, I’ve gotten to the point in my academic career where I have a good amount of freedom to write about my interests. This free reign is both a blessing and curse: it requires me to think more creatively and sometimes makes it more difficult to start assignments.

During these moments, I’ll often start researching different topic possibilities and seeing where the searches and related links sections take me. I’ll ask friends or professors for starting points or look back to previous assignments or readings I’ve completed for inspiration. This works occasionally, but many times I must look to other techniques to stimulate my creativity.

I might close my laptop and take out a pen and paper to free write and brainstorm.3b34178fb56572dc_DSC_0238.preview I might take a short walk, shower or get some coffee. Or if the deadline isn’t pressing, I might simply go to bed or switch to a different task, returning to the troubling assignment when my mind is clearer.

If none of the above options work, sometimes I’ll take a 20 minute Netflix break to relax and stimulate creative thoughts. I might also browse Pinterest, Tumblr or Twitter for interesting ideas, or watch music videos on YouTube.

Hopefully by the time I’ve tried all of these techniques, I’ve found at least one viable idea.

I’m usually more creative when I’m a) well-rested and energized, b) caffeinated, c) with others discussing possibilities, or d) so tired that my filters lower and I feel freer to brainstorm and produce ideas that might normally be too outlandish for me to develop. Those sometimes outrageous ideas can sometimes be helpful, though, because I can later scale them back and turn them into something great.

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