The faster you fill the well, the quicker it empties …

I remember fondly growing up in this once remote corner of the globe, where the only way to be inspired by the rest of the world was to actually save every penny humanly possible by working odd jobs day and night and eventually haggling a cheap one-way plane ticket to go and see it. 

Inspiration has been written and spoken about many times before, by people far wiser and worldlier than me. But because it’s so obvious and so simple, we often forget to make time, go in search of and embrace it. 

Real life experiences build your ability to solve problems laterally, look at things differently and generally challenge the status quo.  For example, my generation of thirty something’s and a bit older will remember such trivial yet harrowing experiences like landing in London, New York or similar with no 4G roaming, no Facebook, no Google Maps. Solace could only be found in buying a paper bound A-to-Z city guide and snaffling a recent copy of a heavily-used expat magazine just to ensure you made it through your first week abroad alive.

Now there’s an app for that.

Once upon a time, to watch John Hegarty talk about his beliefs and creativity, you caught a train, queued up in freezing temperatures, bought a ticket and watched him live at a D&AD event.

Now everything he’s ever said is on YouTube.

When it came to awards you waited with itchy fingers to salivate over every page of the latest D&AD annual in the only inner city art shop that stocked it, only to leave it on the shelf, as you could never afford the heavily inflated airfreight price.

Now it’s all archived online, free for all to access.

By now you might think I have some axe to grind with the internet. Not at all. I love the internet. It’s a big part of what I do for a living and is a constant source of inspiration, entertainment and enlightenment. But regardless of how good your surround sound is and how many monitors you have, the Internet is not and never will be a substitute for the inspiration you can get through real world experiences, although it is tempting to think that it can be. 

By filling your creative well with the same kind of content and digital experiences as your peers, you will have no choice but to unconsciously mimic each other in an effort to purge yourselves of sameness.

I asked Nathan James Cooper from rubbishcorp.com and Whybin\TBWA (and speaker at tonight’s Glug Auckland event) on his thoughts of digital vs. real world inspiration.

“Inspiration from your internets is good for breakfast, not so good for supper”, he says. 

Inspiration is something you must make time for and seek out in many industries, not just your own. All advertising types know there is no limit on how long or late you can work. Your job will take all of your time if you allow it. So any forward-thinking creative boss should understand the need for their staff to be creatively inspired. Lack of creating time for something that will make you better at your job is a non-argument.  

As Leo Burnett said: “Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, is still the secret of great creative people”. 

  • To hear more, Cooper is talking at creative inspiration meet-up Glug (slogan: “More Notworking than Networking”) with celebrity chef Mike Van de Elzen and Casey Eden of Neighbourly.co.nz on the theme of ‘Done is better than said’ on Thursday 16 October at 1885 Britomart at 6pm. Tickets are $10. Get yours or find out more about the event here

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